Can you remember the last time you had to take a test? How about this…can you remember the last time you were tested? How did you do? We’re trekking through a series entitled: THE TEN TESTS OF ABRAHAM. It’s pretty easy to see that Abraham finds himself in some situations that could make him bitter in a short order. This is definitely one of the options we have when we find ourselves in a test: “Will I allow this to make me bitter or better?” (Choose wisely, Grasshopper)
Bitterness is that unresolved, unforgiven anger and resentment. It is the result of anger changing from an experience to a belief. Bitterness is seething and constant. Bitter people carry the same burdens as angry people, but to a greater extent.
Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison. Hebrews 12:15
Bitterness does not affect only you; it affects everyone with whom you come into contact. You’ve probably known people like this who, when you get around them, their bitterness and resentment spills over onto you.
Perhaps you struggle with the same thing. Sometimes people who have lost a child to illness or accident blame God for their loss. “God, how could you take my beloved child from me? Don’t You know how much I loved him? How could You do this to me?”
An abandoned spouse may become bitter as they wonder: “God, don’t You see how much I am struggling to raise these kids while he/she is out living the high life? How can you let him get away with this? I am the one who was faithful, and now I am the one who is miserable while he/she has it made! Don’t you care about me? Why aren’t you punishing them?”
The honest businessman sees a crooked businessman prospering while he flounders. “God, how can You stand by and let this happen? I am an honest businessman, and my business is failing! How can You let him get way with such thievery? I have a wife and kids to feed, God; why are you doing this to me?”
The childless couple is bitter when they see families with several children and they cannot seem to have even one. “God, why don’t You let us have even one child when these other people have so many! It isn’t fair that we can’t have even one child to love while so many are being aborted and abandoned! God, why are You doing this to us?”
You become bitter out of a belief that God will not punish the people who hurt you, that God does not hear your plea, or that He does not care about your plight. Since God is apparently not going to intervene in your circumstances, you stand in as judge, jury, and executioner in the lives of other people.
It becomes a circular pattern. The more you dwell on what has been done to you, the injustice you have suffered, or the loss you have incurred, the deeper goes the root of bitterness. You already know that carrying around a load of bitterness is exhausting.
Bitterness hardens your heart on the inside and your features on the outside. It also defiles those around you because it is contagious.
This Sunday, we’ll be looking at the 3rd Test of Abraham. It’s got all of the perfect ingredients for him to become resentful and bitter. What will he choose? I can’t wait to tell you about when we get together. Why not invite someone to join you this weekend for some inspiration and a meaningful deposit of some truth and hope?
I close with a great quote from Max Lucado. He nails it: “Resentment is when you allow what’s eating you to eat you up. Revenge is the raging fire that consumes the arsonist. Bitterness is the trap that snares the hunter. And mercy is the choice that sets them all free.”
See you Sunday!