Something that is commonly advised in Christian circles is to not allow bitterness to take root. This, I believe, at least partially comes from Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. It is good, practical advice anyway, but to know that it is a biblical truth and the warning that comes along with it, is compelling and reason enough for you and I to pay quick attention. Many say that bitterness is like a weed that can overgrow and choke out anything that is growing and beautiful and producing fruit. (Also a biblical thought, see the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13.)
But, today I am visualizing Bitterness with a capital “B”, he is a monster. He is literally Satan’s tool, or as John Bevere describes him, he is the Bait of Satan. He is offense and hurt that takes that name: Bitterness.
Bitterness is an ugly monster. It has a tendency to grow big if we don’t slaughter it with some serious work. We have a very real enemy and he wants us to feed our Bitterness instead of slaying it. If he can keep us distracted with anger, frustration, confusion and bitterness, then we won’t be actively seeking out others to tell about Jesus. So, in essence, when you don’t deal with your Bitterness Monster, you help out Satan. I don’t know about you, but I would guess that you don’t want to do that! Neither do I! We are supposed to resist the enemy and his schemes.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
1 Peter 5:8-9
Bitterness has the power to completely overtake you, affecting your relationships, your emotions, your thought life, your sanity, your health, and if not dealt with, eventually your character! Bitterness left un-checked can divide families, friends, co-workers and churches.
Bitterness is also not simply black and white; either I have it or I don’t have it kind of issue. It is much more complicated than that. We can slaughter it and think it is gone, only to have it rear it’s ugly head again days, months, or even years after putting it to rest. No, this is something that requires regular attention because it is rooted in our insecurities and previous hurts, it feeds off our past pain! And as you and I know, new pain is often magnified by past pain, so sometimes we have to slay this monster over and over and over again.
Today I am doing a Bitterness assessment on myself and I thought I would invite you to join me.
First, I will let you know how I came to the conclusion that it’s time to assess. I’ve been overwhelmed and frustrated. That is unusual for me because I actually just returned from a beautiful, relaxing vacation. Tim and I had seven full days of connection, just the two of us and it was truly wonderful. I really love being with him, he is my favorite person. So, I came home refreshed, or so I thought. Within a day of coming back home, I was an anxious ball of stress. And within a few days, I was a total mess. This was my first indication that something was off.
Over time and through my relationship with Christ, I have learned that when I get anxious, I need to look inward and ask myself some questions to determine what is going on. I begin by asking myself these questions:
- Am I spending adequate time with the Lord? Probably every time, but at least almost every time I’m struggling with anxiety, this is an area where I have slacked a bit.
- In my quiet time with God, am I zoning out or am I actually retaining what I’m reading?
- When I am alone and it is quiet, what am I thinking about? Am I hurt and thinking through that hurt over and over again? Who am I thinking about? Who am I mad at?
- Am I feeling insecure? If so, about what?
- Am I praying? Am I talking to God about what is eating at me?
- Is there anything that I need to repent? Have I messed up? Do I need to apologize to God or anyone else?
Most of the time I quickly realize after asking these questions that 1.) I need to get over myself and 2.) I still need Jesus in a major way. And that, my friends, is good to know!
But, knowing is only half the battle. And quite literally, we are in a battle (Ephesians 6:12)!! To know is good, but then it is time to take some serious action.
While it is a good illustration to imagine pulling the weeds of bitterness, today I like the idea of pulling out a sword and chopping off Bitterness’s ugly, foaming at the mouth, red-eyed, mean, hateful HEAD! It’s a monster and today I am a
warrior Warrior Princess (duh) and it is no match against me because Jesus is fighting with me and through me and for me! Today I literally fight by making the choice to repent and apologize for messing up, I forgive, I spend more deliberate time with the Lord, praying and telling Him about who I’ve been upset with, and asking Him to take my burdens. Today, I fight by remembering that my relationship with Christ is my priority. And today that monster is dead, laying in a pool of blood and if he tries to rise up again tomorrow, or in a couple of weeks, or in a few months or years, I only pray that I remember to let Jesus fight for me again!
Please take a minute to ask yourself the same questions. Have you dealt with your monster recently? If you haven’t, I beg you to deal with it. Please. For the sake of your relationships, your church, your sanity and health: Do it now. If you need some help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Pastor or Christian Mentor. Or, if you’d like, you can contact me: I am a monster slayer…I’ve killed many in my day, I’d love to help you kill yours.