Bitter Free


How do you react to grumbling and criticisms? Do you react in the same negative spirit? Do you feel the need for revenge and payback? I personally think it is a test of character when others slander and are judgmental of us. Character is not only how we act but how we react to people who hurt us – especially those we call brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have been in situations in my life and ministry when I literally felt my heart descend into a dark and bitter place because of how others treated me. But The Lord has taught me and has given me tools to keep me from bitterness. I tweeted about this sometime ago:

So what’s up with this verse? How can this verse help deal with the hurt and pain that come from the people we  love and gladly serve. In this post I share two simple ideas to help keep us from a place of bitterness. Samuel said,

“As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you. I will teach you the good and right way.

We’re called to two things in this verse:

  • Commit to pray for those who hurt us
  • Commit to teach those who hurt us

The hardest thing to do is to pray for people who don’t like you, could care less about you and are mean-spirited toward you. It’s even more difficult to preach or teach to these same people without being bitter toward them in your sermons. Our calling is to pray for the people of God, and not punish them for their sins toward us. We easily fall into sin when we fail to do the first thing – commit to prayer. You will never fulfill the second part of this calling if you fail to obey the first. A lot of pastors use their preaching as pay back to mean-spirited church folk. I have done that before and it is wrong.

The point here is not to teach them in a sermon, but to live out the gospel’s power through godly character:

  • Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
  • Be angry and sin not
  • Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath
  • give no opportunity to the devil
  • Let the peace of Christ rule your heart
  • cast all your anxieties and care upon Jesus – He cares
  • Do good to those who hate you
  • Put on love, compassion, meekness, kindness, humility and patience
  • Turn the other cheek when they revile you
  • Go the extra mile when they could care less about you.
  • Forgive those who hurt you

You make things worse by trying to scold them in your teaching. God has provided a better way – heartfelt and sustained prayer, relentless and courageous love. They are not necessarily easy to pull off, but once you step out in faith, God meets you at the point of your need. I urge you to pray hard for those who hurt you until the love of Jesus comes bursting out of your heart. When that happens, it will be easier to feed them when they are hungry or give them something to drink when they are thirsty, look them in the eye and say I love, hug them, smile at them and love on them. That’s how you stay bitter free.

16 responses to “Bitter Free

  1. Pingback: It’s difficult to pray for our enemies | Churchmouse Campanologist·

  2. very good Walter! Lord knows I’ve ridden on the bitter train in my life, and I have given the devil some room…. Job was a good example for me….no matter what the devil threw at him, he sinned not, and therefore, the devil got nothing for his efforts and God rewarded him didn’t he?

  3. Great tips…I have this scripture posted on my wall as an ever present reminder: “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the laps of fools ~Ecclesiastes 7:9~

    Blessings
    JC

  4. “Preaching for the congregation rather than at them is a big differentiator in how a sermon is received.
    The pastor who understands his role as a shepherd cannot help but love the flock. This begins with how he addresses the sheep in the sermon. Throw rocks at the wolves. Provide truth for the congregation like a weekly feast of the Word.”
    -thom s. Rainer

  5. Thanks Walter! I have been fighting off bitterness as I have been forced to deal with marriage being thrown away by my best friend. It is far from easy but by keeping my focus on God, I’m making it through one day at a time. Patrick

  6. Walt,
    Thank you.
    I’m not a pastor, but in my ministry, my teaching heart is born from an encouraging heart. So when that heart is walked upon, ignored, treated badly {as it has been several times in the last year} it feels pain.

    But I’ve prayed for them, tried to go to them {to no avail usually}, and loved them anyway. That’s the seed I choose to plant.

    Your message here is another affirmation that He will bless that effort. Thank you.

    Heather

  7. Your message not only touched my heart, but is timely in message. God bless you Pastor for your faith and guidance. Some days it is hard to love someone who refuses an outreached hand of friendship or ignores an act of kindness.
    On another note, many people decide to stay away from church because of the people you describe, the venom they spread while hiding under the disguise of Christianity makes it easier to stay away than experience the same pain in church they deal with every day at home, in the neighborhood and workplace. Church should be a place of refuge from the troubles of life, a place of renewal and strength.
    God works in many ways through us as messengers by what we do and say – and so does the devil.

  8. I love this. I learned a long time ago that if I didn’t care for someone (or vice versa) the best thing I could do for both myself and them is pray for them because once you start praying for a person it becomes a lot easier to love them and show them grace.

  9. This is purely good news! I have been thinking along these lines for almost two weeks until this morning I shared with my Whatsaap group. It takes hatred to hate, and it also takes love to love. You cannot stay in love zone and still be hating. That is totally impossible. To hate or hold bitterness against someone, one has to move out of the positive zone of love to a negative zone of hate. Each zone has its own consequences!!
    This form of change, whether casual or permanent limits the flow of love increase, in and out of our life. Perfect health turns into sickness, joy turns into sorrow and anger in an environment of bitterness and hatred. As hard as it is to walk in love towards those who do not deserve, we should pray in honesty to God concerning our struggle for people we hate or those who hate us without reason, for strength and grace. Renewed strength creates a platform to effortlessly intercede for those who hurts us. I love your point which states; “Do good to those who hate you”. Some form of intentional goodness, whether small or big will surely calm the storms of confusion and hatred. We can surprise those who hate us with a gift. Thanks Walter for sharing. Shalom!!

    McDaniels
    http://www.graceology.org

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