Somebody Else's Bitterness
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. Hebrews 12:15
Did you ever see the movie, Stepmom? It starred Ed Harris (Luke), Susan Sarandon (Jackie), and Julia Roberts (Isabel). It was about the ugliness of divorce and remarriage, especially when children are involved.
In the story, Luke divorced his wife, Jackie, and they shared custody of their two young children. Over time, Luke began a relationship with Isabel, a younger, more attractive woman. Although Isabel had nothing to do with the divorce, Jackie hated her for being “the other woman” in her ex-husband’s life. She was especially mean and cruel to her. Nothing Isabel did was ever right or met with her approval, especially when it concerned the children.
In one memorable scene, Jackie’s little boy, Ben, says to his mother, “Mommy, if you want me to hate her (Isabel), I will.” He was just trying to please … and it seemed to him that picking up his mother’s hatred for Isabel would be the ticket. Although Isabel was trying hard to be good to Ben, yet he was more than willing to hate her on behalf of his bitter, sour-spirited mommy.
HATE ON ME HATER
Did you know there are lots of people who “hate” other folks in just the same way? Although never personally wronged by the one they “hate,” they simply pick up the bitterness and hatred of their “mommy” (a.k.a. loved one) and make it their own. They become defiled by their friend’s bitterness.
The Bible warns us about bitterness. We are NOT to become like Jackie, bitter at people who have hurt us, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Furthermore, we are NOT to become like Ben, picking up the bitterness of loved ones and hating on their behalf. Listen, you are NOT being a loyal friend by picking up another’s bitterness. Rather, you are spreading strife, feeding the sin, and grieving the heart of God.
THE CHURCH’S BIGGEST SIN
I firmly believe the biggest sin in the church of Jesus Christ is the sin of bitterness. So many people in the church are bitter and unforgiving … and they are spreading their bitterness like a communicable disease to friends and family. UGH!
What is the answer? Deal God’s way with the bitterness that may have wormed its way into your own heart. Bring your hurts to God and leave them with Him. Choose to forgive those who have hurt you, whether they ask for forgiveness or not. And be a true friend to those whom you know to be bitter. Don’t hate on their behalf. Lovingly confront them with the truth of God’s Word. If they have legitimate issues, they are to go to the person who wronged them as outlined in Matthew 18.
So much trouble and strife could be avoided if we would just do what God says to do. I know it is not ever easy, but it is always right.
HONESTLY ANSWER THIS
Have you picked up another’s bitterness? Drop it right now at the foot of the cross. Pray for that one you are now bitter toward. It is impossible to stay bitter when you are earnestly praying for God’s blessings to fall upon the one who hurt you … or hurt your loved one.
Listen, God knows the score. He sees the evil and the good. He is certainly big enough to take care of those who wrong others. So trust Him and don’t fall short of His grace.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.