2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
My friend, if you are struggling with overcoming bitterness, I am presenting this series just for you. Read through the scriptures and applications. If you want to go through them all at once, that is fine, or you can come back and read a little at a time. But here is where we begin.
- Sweet friend: God knows you and he knows what you have suffered. He has been with you every moment since conception. He is the Righteous Judge who will deal with anyone who has wounded his precious child.
Psalm 139 says: O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know my every thought when far away. Every moment you know where I am. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night– but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
- God knows everything about you and yet, he commands you to avoid bitterness. In Ephesians we read:
26“In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold….. 29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…. Ephesians 4:26-32
3. Now, you know that God knows everything about you (1)and he commands you to avoid bitterness (2). Our third stone is this: You CAN do anything that is right. God empowers us to do what is right. His grace is always sufficient, no matter how difficult the task. We read in Corinthians:
13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
1. Now, you know that God knows everything about you (1)and he commands you to avoid bitterness (2). You can do anything good that God commands (3) and Now we are going to talk about HOW to overcome bitterness. We must realize that forgiveness is an action, not an emotion. To forgive or to hold onto bitterness is a matter of choosing one over the other. A command from the Lord is not a suggestion. Commands are orders issued by our Lord to obey, whether we agree or understand, or not, and we know that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do anything he commands.
If you are having a hard time wrestling with forgiving another person, ask God to show you his own forgiveness of your sins. Neither you, nor the person who sinned against you are without sins. The more you see how deeply the Lord has loved and forgiven you, the easier it becomes to forgive others.
When I first became a Christian, I could see so clearly my own sinful ways. They were constantly on my mind as the Holy Spirit did a transforming work in my life. I remember thinking that I could not wait until these sinful habits and patterns were completely broken, so that I could get on with enjoying life. But what I realized is this: God is continually working on helping me realize, then overcome additional areas of sin in my own life. Just when I think I have overcome an area of sin, like a true gentleman, he whispers…..”what about this one?”, or “just one more, Malia.” I think back to this journey I have been on and I realized that God is such a GENTLE man. He would NOT show me the complete depravity of my own soul all at once because he knows I would simply be crushed under the weight of my own sinful behavior.
Instead, little by little he whispers them to me in my quiet time. I find that the longer I have lived trying to please this merciful father, the further I really am from perfection. It gets easier and easier to forgive as I walk this road.
For more about Overcoming Bitterness, see part 2. We also have an Audio CD on this topic.