Four Steps to Banishing Bitterness – iBelieve Reality: A Devotion for Girls
4 steps to banish bitterness
By: Alisha Headley
"Be careful that there is no poisonous root of bitterness that causes you anger and thereby defiles many …" (Hebrews 12:15)
Poison. The Bible calls bitterness poison. In the Old Testament, the sin of an individual or a family in Israel affected the entire nation. Israel was a covenant community. As such, it would receive a national blessing or a curse. The individual who sinned could not expect to remain anonymous, and the individual sin would have massive repercussions across the nation. Just as it was then, the metaphor of root-bearing bitterness refers to the entire tree as a whole, no longer bearing good fruit due to a single branch bearing these poisonous fruits.
Where in your life do you bear that one branch of poisonous, bitter fruit? It can seem so small to your eyes, but it can affect your whole life. Perhaps you are angry with your husband for offending you many years ago. You may think you let it go and got past the incident and yet you have a single branch of bitterness that could challenge your relationship and you are wondering why things are not getting better in your marriage.
We are all hurt. I was injured by some of the people closest to me. The way you respond to suffering determines whether that pain makes you BETTER or BITTER.
Fortunately, we have a God who shows us grace. Those who promise to forgive our sins and wrongdoings "as far as the east is from the west, that is how far they have removed our transgressions from us" – Psalm 103: 12. And he “no longer remembers our sins” (Hebrews 8:12). It's that simple. He erases all of our hurts that we inflict on him and all of our daily sins. When we reject this grace from God and do not grant this grace to others, it creates an inner environment in which bitterness can grow. We have all done wrong. It is up to us either to forgive or to ponder the wrongdoing until we let the bitterness take root.
Being bitter is a choice.
When a root of bitterness emerges, not only does it destroy your peace of mind, but it can also harm everyone around you, as the Scriptures say, "annoy you and thereby, and defile many." touched, from the one who is bitter to other relationships as mentioned in scripture. Bitterness can therefore have far-reaching, long-lasting, and self-destructive effects.
How can we get rid of this branch of bitterness we have towards someone?
1. Turn to Christ and receive his forgiveness. Once we realize we are receiving undeserved forgiveness, it helps us turn to others and more easily forgive.
2. Ask the Lord to soften your heart. To feel sorry for the one who harmed you. This may take some time, but over time your heart will soften.
3. Pray for your enemies. Yes, the person who hurt you. Scripture encourages us to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who abuse and persecute you. (Matthew 5:24)
4. Forgive. You need to receive God's forgiveness, ask the Lord to soften your heart, pray for those who hurt you, but ultimately you need to forgive that person. A very practical way to do this is to replace bitterness with love. It's especially hard to show love to the person who wronged you. But just as God loved us, we are commanded to love others.
We have all been hurt, but on the other hand, so much freedom awaits you by choosing to forgive those who wronged you instead of choosing bitterness. By cutting off the branch of bitterness, your entire tree of life will be improved without affecting you and those around you any more. I encourage you to cut it off and live with plenty of love and forgiveness. Thank you Lord for giving us this freely as an example.
Alisha Headley is a writer and public speaker with a desire to meet the everyday woman with biblical truth in her daily life. Healing from a chapter of life marked by lies that she once believed about herself, she is inspired to point women to Christ for the freedom and power to overcome those lies with the truth that lies in God's word is written. You can follow her blog by visiting her website or connect with her Facebook + instagram.
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