“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, [a]clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”
Trying to live a good life with a spirit of bitterness within is a very tiring venture. I have lived with bitterness, hate, anger, and frustration for many years. The only thing I ever got from it was more of it. It never helped me, it never won me any friends, it never caused great prosperity in my life, and it seemed to only further separate me from God.
Related Post: God, Will You Forgive Me?
But this shouldn’t come as a surprise as characteristics of those such as bitterness and rage and hate are all traits of the devil. I knew God and I prayed regularly and even read my bible; I tried, however, to live for God while harboring hate and bitterness in my heart.
I eventually learned that it was literally destroying my life. I would either go through my day angry or depressed. If I smiled, it was through sheer force. I wasn’t happy and I found no relief. Nobody wanted to be around me, and my wife and children always seemed to be walking on eggshells, as no one wanted to poke the beast.
It wasn’t until I fully surrendered to God that I found relief and true change. Just like I chose to put on these harmful attitudes each day, I had to make a choice to put on the Armor of God each day (Ephesians 6:10-17).
But God was faithful to help me. When I turned to God, and away from the devil, God gave me the strength I needed to make the changes that were necessary. When I allowed the Holy Spirit to work in my life, He did.
If you are experiencing ongoing hate and bitterness in your inner life, I encourage you to reach out to God and bring this to Him. I know that He wants you to be free from these, and I know that if you are fully surrendered to Him and out of sin, He will help. This is His Will for your life. We know that God is Love and that forgiveness is important to Him. Remember, He forgave those who crucified His Son.
What is the problem with bitterness?
Hebrews 12 points out that God can choose to withhold His grace from you when you harbor hate and bitterness in your heart. Like I mentioned above, bitterness can cause much trouble in a person, including sickness and even disease.
“looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;”
Fortunately for me, I didn’t succumb to sickness or anything of the like. I say this because people who hold grudges and have hate and bitterness in their hearts for prolonged periods are likely to get sick and weak in their bones just like someone who is led by stress and fear and worry. If given enough time, they can literally deteriorate in health even to death.
I truly believe there is a spirit of sickness that comes from Satan, himself. Not that all sickness is a spiritual attack, but in some cases, a spiritual attack may be the cause of an illness or your health deteriorating. I believe this spirit can attach to you when living with hate in your heart towards others. But God is the source of health and Life.
Scripture teaches that God never leaves you. You can have God in you and still live in sin. What happens is, you make your choice to sin and God allows you to make choices. God also allows you to suffer the consequences for your choices; good or bad. In the same way, you can live with hate and bitterness, and God will allow it. However, He will also allow the consequences with it; in this case, a spirit of sickness.
When you think of people that you know, do any of them cause you to get upset at the mention of their name? Do any past hurts come to mind when their name comes up? Do you find that you get upset and frustrated around people easily? God can help you with these things. He can literally exchange a lifestyle of anger, hate, and bitterness for a life of love, joy, and peace. The choice starts with you.
If you find your marriage is troubled by bitterness and strife, here is a very helpful resource: 7 Secrets to Fixing Your Marriage, with Mort Fertel. Mort has one of the highest success rates in helping couples to fix and restore their broken marriages.
How do I forgive, especially when they don’t deserve it?
If anyone knows anything about the power of forgiveness, Jesus does. He forgave, not out of weakness, but out of love for others. He understood the grace of the Father, and He chose to extend that grace to others through His choice.
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
You don’t have to extend the grace of God to others. You can fight with people, hold grudges, get angry and hold hate, and even become bitter with them. God won’t stop you. However, He also might not extend much more grace to you, either.
Why is this important? Because it’s God who has the final say for your life. It’s God who determines what He allows in your life, good or bad. If you make a choice to live in sin, you also make a choice to step out of the safety of God’s providence.
If you want to forgive people in your life, but just can’t seem to bring yourself to do it, or, aren’t sure how you can, I encourage you to turn to God.
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When you go to God with a humble heart and ask Him for help with true sincerity, He can then start to work in your life. You can bring this person and situation to God in prayer. Also, pray for the one who hurt you, Jesus tells us to love and pray for our enemies in Matthew 5:44.
God can see right through you, so there is no fooling Him. Sometimes He has to allow you to fall to a low in your life before true humility and submission to Him is possible. A spirit of hate and bitterness is closely accompanied by a spirit of pride.
God can’t do much if you have pride in your life. However, once you let go of pride by allowing forgiveness to someone who doesn’t necessarily deserve it, God will restore you and set you free from the jail you end up in when you hold unforgiveness in your heart.
If you think about it, the other person may not even think about the situation, but when you refuse to forgive, you often replay the situation and things you’d do differently in your mind over and over and over, you are attached and stuck to the situation. There is freedom when you forgive them, you are letting yourself out of the self-made jail.
I know it is hard to go to someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness and let them off the hook, but there is instant freedom in this process. The whole matter is soon forgotten, whereas, holding a grudge without forgiving a person only results in an ongoing battle in your soul.
How do I love someone who’s hurt me?
To show love to someone doesn’t mean that you need to spend a bunch of time with them and make them feel good. What it does mean is that even though they hurt you, you are still willing to put those hurts aside and help them.
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, [a]hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”
This can be very difficult to do. I understand that the last thing you want to do is to help someone that hasn’t been good to you or who you know will likely walk all over you again. Jesus isn’t telling you that you have to spend time with people who are hurtful or mean; He’s saying that you must be willing to help them and show kindness to them.
So, how do you do this?
First, you must look at the character of God. God knows of the evil and corruption in this world, and if there was ever anyone who could simply put an end to a person’s life, it would be God. But He extends grace and mercy and forgiveness. He wants you to choose Him and to live in eternity with Him. So, for this reason, He offers many chances.
One Scripture reads; “How many times should I forgive my brother? Jesus answered, Seven times seventy (Matthew 18:22).” This shows the love of Jesus and He is willing to extend this to you. How many mistakes have you made throughout life? How many times have you sinned? What if Jesus said, “That’s it; I’ve had enough from you!”
Second, you must see people as God’s children and creation. God created all of the people in the world. He has a plan for everyone. Not everyone understands this, and many might argue that there isn’t a plan for them. But God knows there is; they just haven’t surrendered to God long enough to find out.
When you look at people as God’s creation and see the potential in them instead of the evil deeds they commit, then you can forgive them and love them easier. Jesus sees the potential in people, and this includes you. When Jesus looks at you, He sees the creation of the Father, and He knows that you have a purpose.
When you show love to your enemies, you teach them about love, and you give them a chance to turn to love. If you throw hate and bitterness back at them, it can only escalate. Again, pride can be difficult, but if you are willing to put pride aside and show love to those who wrong you, God the Father will lift you up and heal your wounds.
Bitterness is difficult to live with. It can bring a person to ruins. God tells us to turn away from hate and bitterness because He knows that it forms a terrible root within. God is about love and forgiveness. He understands that sin easily corrupts, but He also understands that with Him, we have the power to put anger and hate and bitterness and pride out of our lives.
Holding grudges and not forgiving is a quick way to fall under God’s judgment. If you want God to be fair with you, you must be fair with others. God is clear in the bible that if you don’t forgive others, He won’t forgive you (Matthew 6:15).
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Love is the way to Life. Through love for others, God will show His love to you. God’s not saying that you won’t experience hateful people in life, but instead, to not let them steal your joy. If someone wrongs you, look for the divinity of God in them; look at them as God’s creation who is trapped by the snares of the devil. Instead of cursing them and hating them, pray for them. Pray for them with true sincerity, to have blessing and success, freedom and victory in their lives. Then you can be sure that God will want the same for you.
If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, you can follow this link (Prayer for Salvation) to find out how. Also, if you need prayer for your life or your family, feel free to fill out a private prayer request in the provided prayer box in this article. My wife and I would love to pray for you.