Written by cycleguy on June 27th, 2013


My topic for this Sunday is one familiar to all of us.  Even if we say we have no bitterness toward anyone, we read about it in the news quite a bit.

A worker saunters into work and unloads a ton of ammo on fellow workers.

High school students shoot up a school.

Kids (or adults) who have been bullied once too often take their anger out on those who hurt them.

So-called “vigilante justice” is taken into the hands of one or two people.

You know the stories I am talking about.  Stories that shock us.  Stories that rile us.  Stories that garner our deepest sympathies.  Stories that even have us saying, “He/she deserved that.”  Several quotes are true about what causes events like this to occur:

“Resentful souls draw the drapes and purposely block out the sunshine.”

“Bitterness is like a cancer.  It eats upon the host.”  Maya Angelou

Hebrews 12:15 warns us: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”   The Bible knows whereof it speaks.  Bitterness is an ugly emotion that poisons the person and those who come in contact with that person.

There are two interesting stories in the Bible that involve bitterness-one good and one not so good.

The first one is here.  The story of King David giving a charge to his son, Solomon, to make sure Joab pays for his treachery is a sad commentary on David’s end.  His resentment and bitterness come seeping out in his words to Solomon.  Bitterness clings.  Bitterness hangs on.

The second one is here.  If anyone had cause for bitterness it was Joseph. Sold. Bought. Falsely accused.  Jailed. Forgotten. Finally vindicated.  Forgiving.  But this is the ultimate test.  Jacob is dead and the brothers begin to get a tad bit paranoid.  Not only has Joseph shown them forgiveness when he reveals who he is, he now shows them the ultimate trump card.  “You mean it for evil, but God meant it for good.”  I think it is safe to say Joseph had better things to do than stew over the mistreatment of his brothers.

When (not if) you are hurt deeply, it behooves us to let it go.  Forgive and move on.  But in the moving on, don’t carry it with you.  Leave it in the past where it belongs.  You cannot change what has happened.  You can only change how you react to what has happened.   Keep this old adage in mind:

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.

How are you at forgiving? Do you tend to have a bitterness problem?  Allow yourself to be set free.  I’d like to hear your thoughts.


21 Comments so far ↓

  1. Rick Dawson says:

    I change my future by how I deal with my past, which affects my present. You know some of my past; you’ll know more…but trust me when I say that God saved me from having an infamous name (if even in a small way) by making me not that interested in buying a gun to pursue those who hurt me as a child. Even writing that chills me nowadays, but it was truth.

  2. I struggle, struggle, struggle with it.

  3. Daniel says:

    Sometimes I think that my deep feelings of regret toward my past are a statement that I have never been able to forgive myself for my failures. My failures link to my actions and my inactions. I have no feelings of bitterness toward others that have wronged me though.

    The story of Joseph is one of my favorites. But he sure was a first rate jerk with his bragging and feelings of superiority when he was living at home with his father and brothers.

    • cycleguy says:

      I’m not a psychologist (help Melanie) but much of what you say seems true. Regret is often tied to the failure to forgive self. As for Joseph, you hit him between the eyes. I believe though he was humbled big time.

  4. the Old Adam says:

    I have a real problem forgiving. Especially my enemies. let alone love them.

    I’m thankful that He has forgiven those sins in me, as well.

  5. floyd says:

    I think we all struggle with this to one degree or another, but I find it fairly easy to let things go after being hurt or betrayed. Most people are acting out in fear and insecurity when they hurt others. You know the adage; “Hurting people hurt people.” It is when we think too much of ourselves that our pride gets stung, humility has a way of not ever being stung.

    I’ve often found the frustration is with myself sometimes due to letting people be in a position to burn me over and over again. While we should walk in humility that doesn’t mean we should allow ourselves to be used or abused… that doesn’t help anyone.

    Good thoughts and that always bothered me about David, he’s my favorite all human character in the Bible. Praying for you and the message.

    • cycleguy says:

      I agree Floyd. We have all struggled with this in some way. Some more than others. The “hurting people hurt people” statement is true. You have hit on something with being frustrated with ourselves. Do you have any thoughts/ideas about David’s request?

      • floyd says:

        You know over the years I’ve come to settle on the fact that he killed during peace time must have been like murder and maybe he knew his job wasn’t done as king until justice was done… I’ve really wrestled with it and if he had been bitter I don’t think God would have given him a long life. He may have really been tying up lose ends, and the tone and honor aspect he spoke to Solomon of God kind of sets that tone. I don’t envy people who serve God as leaders…

  6. Jan says:

    Whoa! Powerful post Bill and I will be sharing this……yes, I have been very bitter, have learned that forgiving brings peace, sometimes not easy, but forgiveness is a must. If we hang onto bitterness it will infect every part of our lives. Thanks Bill!!!

  7. Dave says:

    Thanks for this post, Bill. Bitterness was a main meal with the family I came to be with and later I fed it to myself. It was familiar food. Thought it was mine. God does open our eyes, though, and when I saw the bitterness and all the other awful traits, I told God I didn’t want to express those things anymore. They are going by the wayside, some not without a deep struggle. What has helped me is the realization that anything unlike God, Love, is hate, from being annoyed with dropping something on the floor, to starting a global war. So I love instead, and thank God I can bend over to pick something up.

    No sense listing everything that has plagued me at one time or another, since the carnal mind breaks every commandment while we’re in it. Put it off and we find out what we really are.

  8. Hutch says:

    I’d like to think that I am “un-offendable” but, the truth is it’s still hard to forgive people that have wronged me. Even with all the 12 steps, great teaching and the fact that I really understand forgiveness, I still have a hard time understanding that if I am offended at something someone has “done” to me, it’s not their issue but mine. I need to remember that, usually when someone “hurts” me, it’s likely a lie I am believing OR they are hurting and likely need someone to help THEM. – Thanks for this.

    • cycleguy says:

      So well put Hutch. It is not their issue but mine. It is the age old idea of taking responsibility and making a choice. Thanks for commenting.

  9. Betty Draper says:

    Seems forgiveness is an on going process. I have been bitter several times till no one wanted to be around me. It takes all the sweetness out ones life. I have found somewhere in the process of forgiving God will bring the sweetness back…then I know forgiveness has finally crowded out the bitterness from my heart.
    Life is just too short to waste it on unforgiveness. Great post brother.

  10. Bitterness and forgiveness can easily mess with our lives. I’ve learned that the key to forgiveness is to understand that forgiveness is not saying what the other person did was OK. It’s merely just saying that I’m handing the situation over to God and I’m going to let him do what’s best.

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