How Can We Fight Bitterness?

Last week we defined bitterness and outlined what the Bible says about it. Moving forward, we look at how we can fight bitterness. Having a bitter attitude does not bring glory to God. So what are we to do with the angry emotions and pressures that persist despite our best efforts to put the offense out of our minds? No one is able to just “will away” bitter feelings on demand. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are 6 principles mentioned in Andy Mineo’s song “Bitter” that can help us extinguish the flames of bitterness.

1. TRUST IN JESUS

Mineo mentions God’s grace in his life: “Jesus forgave me and washed away my sins when I didn’t deserve it.”

Before we can even think about extinguishing bitterness in our lives, we must be reconciled to God. We were born in sin and our sin separates us from God. The only way we can be reconciled to God and saved from our sin is by trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Romans 5:10, 10:10). Christ’s sacrifice on the cross supplies spiritual life for anyone who calls on His name for salvation. A right relationship with God leads to right relationships with others.

2. CONFESS YOUR BITTERNESS & REPENT

Mineo confesses his bitterness:

“I got some bitterness I wanna get up off me. Where should I start? Well, I feel like I’d be sorta’ frontin’ to say when my father calls, I dont hit the ignore button.”

Ignoring our bitterness, hiding it from others, or making superficial changes in behavior will only lead to more problems. Confess your bitterness as sin to God. Confess to those who hold you accountable. Once we have recognized we have bitterness in our hearts, the biblical response is to repent. Repentance is a change in attitude that leads to a change in behavior. Turning from our sin and turning toward God. Prayerfully, the next points will aid you in repentance.

3. MEDITATE ON JESUS’ EXAMPLE

Mineo looks to Jesus’ example:

“There’s power in such amazing love like when Jesus forgave the ones that pinned him up on that cross as he was hanging from it”

Jesus’ death on the cross is the most profound example of forgiveness and also provides a model for overcoming bitterness. Jesus not only cancelled the debt we owe to God, He also willingly took on Himself the consequences of our sin: death itself. Instead of being bitter towards us, God forgives those who trust and believe in Jesus (John 3:16).

Consider 1 Peter 2:21-23: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” Jesus did not respond with bitterness, but instead forgave the ones who nailed Him to the cross.

4. FORGIVE

Mineo realizes he needs to follow Jesus’ example, and forgive:

“If I got unforgiveness in my heart, then there really ain’t no room for love”

“But I know my sins removed since Jesus came, with no reason to forgive me but He did so I do the same”

The presence of bitterness indicates that the deep work of forgiveness has not been accomplished. We have been commanded to forgive “just as Christ also forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). “Just as” means that our forgiveness should follow Christ’s model. When you forgive another person just as God forgave you, you willingly take on yourself the consequences of that person’s sin against you. That’s what Jesus did for us. It means more than requiring the offender to pay no consequences, it requires us to accept the consequences ourselves. When we forgive as Jesus does, we have a beautiful opportunity to taste what Jesus experienced in forgiving. This makes us more like Him, which should be our goal. Forgiveness understood this way has enormous potential for cleansing bitterness. We will hurt when someone rejects or disrespects us, but the Lord’s love and purpose for us enable us to forgive and continue giving love, mercy, and grace no matter how little we receive it. Extending forgiveness brings immense freedom from bitterness.

Pause to consider these avenues for battling bitterness. How does this apply to your life? We will be back next week to continue unpacking the different ways to deal with bitterness.

 

 

Prince graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor of science in Computer Engineering and currently works full-time as a software engineer. He lives in Dallas, TX, with his wife Carol. Prince’s singular passion in life is to show the magnitude of Christ’s value in everything he does.