Preventing And Overcoming Bitterness
by David J. Stewart | June 2002 | Updated July 2019 | Click for Background Music in a New Window
Matthew 10:30, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Please don't let bitterness destroy you. Put everything into the Lord's hands. I think a lot of people become bitter at others who have hurt them because they lack faith that God will punish the guilty. I assure you my friend, the God Who wrote the Bible sees everything, beholding the good and the evil...
Psalms 34:15; 5:21 and 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. ... For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. ... The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” God sees even the slight insults intended to ruin your day or the gospel behind your back that ruins your reputation. God sees ever word that comes from our mouth (Matthew 12:36). God even sees into the deepest part of our heart and imagination (Hebrews 4:12). Nothing is hid from the eyes of the Lord, and nothing is so insignificant that God dismisses it, for even the very hairs of our head are numbered by God (Matthew 10:30).
Most people are bitter because of envy and people pleasing. Envy is “I have to have what you have to be happy, or I have to be like you to be happy, or I have to have your family to be happy, or I have to have your home or career to be happy.” People pleasing is “I have to be liked by you to be happy.” Both envy and people pleasing are dead ends, bound to lead to bitterness. We need to focus on pleasing God alone as Revelation 4:11 says we were created for.
Think about this truth when bitterness rears its ugly head in your mind. God sees all and everyone must be held accountable on judgment day in eternity (Romans 14:10-12; 2nd Corinthians 5:9-10; 1st Thessalonians 4:6; Romans 12:19; Revelation 20:13-15). To harbor bitterness in one's heart is to be shallow-minded. Look at the bigger picture. If the person who hurt you is unsaved, they have eternal damnation ahead of them. Pray for their salvation. If the person is a Christian, the Bible says that judgment will begin with Christians in eternity. 1st Peter 4:17, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” Unlike most people, God does care about little things, even the very words that we speak. Jesus left the ninety-nine sheep to go find that one lost sheep. God cares about the INDIVIDUAL. Isn't that a precious truth! What an awesome, loving and terwonderful God!
The best revenge in life is massive success, and you can have that success in Christ Jesus! Many people are bitter over the past, frustrated about the present and worried about the future. I guarantee you that when you are bitter that it will be quickly cured if you think about what the Lord has in store for us in eternity. Think about the New World Order and how messed up this world is today, and realize that the page someone ripped out of your book is not the end of the world. God will deal with every word and deed that people commit when they die, and that's a promise from God in Romans 12:19. People become bitter because they are caught up in THE MOMENT. Colossians 3:1-2 tell us that since Jesus has risen and gone into Heaven, then our minds ought to also be focused on Heaven. What a precious Biblical truth!!!
You can overcome bitterness by focusing on Heaven and the PROMISES of God. Jesus told us in Matthew 6:20 to lay up treasures in Heaven. It's hard to be bitter when you're leading lost sinners to the Lord to be saved. If you're bitter, it's because you are thinking about the past (which we all do at times). The Bible tells us to think about Heaven, since that is where Jesus our wonderful Savior is now at bodily. Colossians 3:1-2, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” There is a sure cure for bitterness my friend. This life will soon be over, and all that will matter in eternity is what we did for God.
Every day is another opportunity to do something to serve God, to help others, to preach the gospel, to contend for the faith, to please the Lord, to stand for God against public evils (like abortion and the homosexual agenda), and to show forth God's love and truth to those around us. Won't you join me and stand for God?
Also, consider that God will hold everyone accountable in eternity for every good and bad work done upon the earth (2nd Corinthians 5:9-11). 1st Thessalonians 4:6 warns about defrauding our brother (neighbor). Romans 12:19 PROMISES that God will punish evildoers and avenge all victims of wrongdoing. Romans 14:10-12 declares that every soul shall give account to God. If someone has hurt us, then rest assure friend that God will tend to the matter.
If something is a matter big enough for one to be bitter about, then it is a matter which God must address on judgment day in eternity. If God cares about the birds and feeds them, and He certainly does, then you can rest assure that God sees your pain and sorrow too. The Bible says that God even keeps count of the number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30). Luke 12:7, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” God is a mysterious Being, beyond our human grasp to understand His ways or thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Everybody has been hurt by others, and this is important to consider, that is, we are not alone. We are not the only one's who have been deeply hurt in life. Some people choose to go through life complaining that they are victims. You cannot drive forward while continually looking out your rear-view mirror. You need to drive forward and look forward, while trusting God to guide you (Proverbs 3:5-7). An army cannot move forward by marching backwards. Put your past, no matter how dreadful and miserable, into God's hands. Romans 8:1,32-34 are precious Scriptures which remind us that we are forgiven in Christ and that no man has a right to condemn anyone (James 4:12; 5:9). James 5:9, “Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.”
Romans 8:32 proclaims that God Who freely gave us His Son has also promised to freely give us all things in eternity. Of course, this promise only applies to born-again Christians who trust in Christ Jesus for salvation. If you don't repent toward God by faith in Christ Jesus to be forgiven of your sins, then you won't go to Heaven when you die.
The word "bitterness" in the New Testament means "clutter." That is very interesting! Clutter? Yes, that is what bitterness is, clutter. So many people have ill feelings and anger still "cluttering" their hearts from years ago. To fret and anguish over past embarrassing moments, painful memories and horrible experiences that cannot be changed or eradicated by any means is a common problem with human beings. It is emotional clutter, baggage. Let go, let God!
We all contend with bitterness at times, but some more than others. The key is to learn to sing in the rain, because the rain will never stop coming down on your parade. If you can't learn to find peace and happiness in the storms of life, then you'll never be happy. So many older people are bitter, miserable and angry at the world. It's because they have nothing to look forward to, being ignorant of God's promises (or else they refuse to believe the Bible). Our joy rests in the PROMISES OF GOD in the Bible.
Psalm 150:6 declares for all creatures that have breath to “Praise ye the Lord.” Life is going to run over you like a steam-roller at times, robbing every remaining bastion of happiness you have. Look to the PROMISES of God's Word for peace in this world of tribulation.
Jesus said in John 16:22 that when He returns one day, it will be a time of happiness, and “YOUR JOY NO MAN TAKETH FROM YOU.” Jesus acknowledged that it is people who often rob us of our joy. It is people who hurt people. As one web visitor told me, “People equal pain.” The Bible warns us in 2nd Timothy 3:1-7 how rotten and evil humanity would become in the Last Days, and we are certainly living in those times of woeful apostasy. Lying has become a mainstay of the mainstream newsmedia. People are committing the most vile and heinous of sins these days and attempting to justify all of it with lame excuses.
Abortion, pornography, divorce and homosexuality are all legal in the U.S., being backed by a boat load of lies and deceptions. There's no way that such an immoral society can survive. This is why God has given America over to a Police State. We are getting what we deserve in America, and the time of sorrows is just beginning. Jesus said in Matthew 24:12 that people would grow cold in the Last Days because of unpunished evil (iniquity).
There's been a lot of crazy things in the news over the past few years and recently, about people being arrested for growing a garden on their own property, or for not watering their brown lawn (a 70-year old woman was arrested, handcuffed and put in jail for not watering her grass), or for hanging out a POW/MIA flag (no more patriotism), or for allowing kids to wait in front of their house for the school-bus, or for going soul-winning in public. Then I realized one day that in EVERY CASE, it was neighbors calling the police on their neighbors. Yes, the police have become out of control in America (many are intolerant abusive thugs with punk attitudes); but it's the insane public that is causing this, neighbor rising up against neighbor, brother suing brother, sister hating sister, and children turning in their parents for disciplining them. America has turned into an intolerant hellhole. It is easy to become bitter in these times that we're living.
Many people are bitter at God because of bad things that have happened to them. God knows that I have a ton of reasons to become bitter toward many people and for many reasons, but I focus on the shortness of life (which means the closeness of Heaven), the Biblical promise that God will avenge us of all evils against us (Romans 12:19; Ecclesiastes 12:14) and the forgiving Savior Who paid for my many sins and saved me. The way to avoid becoming bitter is to stay close to the Lord Jesus, setting our affection on things above as Colossians 3:1-3 teaches...
Colossians 3:1-4, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
Bitterness is a thing of the earth. People get bitter because they lack faith that God will keep His promise to avenge us. Another important way to overcome and avoid becoming bitter is to live for OTHERS, looking for ways to help others. The Bible teaches in Romans to OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD. Romans 12:21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I noticed that my neighbor's grass was getting tall (about 2 1/2 feet high). They don't live in the home, so it's unoccupied. I don't even own a lawn-mower because my landlord takes care of the grass. So I went to Home Depot and bought a lawn trimmer just so I could cut my neighbor's grass. I don't even know who owns the property, but I know that Jesus died on the cross for them and they are created in God's image. So I went over and cut their grass. I felt like a million bucks. Life is about pleasing the Lord (Revelation 4:11), which can only be done by living for OTHERS (Philippians 2:4-5, 20-21). Every time I go shopping I see that people leave their shopping carts in the parking lot. I always return my cart to the store.
Take Care of Your Health to Avoid Bitterness
I sincerely write my articles to help others in the Lord, not to make a name for myself or impress anybody. I want you to be the best you can be for God. Something that really helps me is to eat healthy meals. If you have a Vietnamese restaurant near you, try it. I go to a local place and order their Vietnamese Beef Salad, and it makes me feel great after I eat that type of food! The fried salad has lettuce, tomato, onions, beef and a light vinegar base to it. I also order Fresh Lumpia. It has chicken and shrimp, shredded cucumbers, a lettuce leaf and comes in a rice paper wrap. It comes with Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce. What a great and healthy meal! The other day I ordered Won Ton Soup with homemade wontons. Thank you Lord! My point is that when I eat better I feel better. And that is important to your overall mood and how you feel. A lot of people get angry and irritated all the time because they're obese and unhealthy.
Eat more salads! Drink water most of the time. Don't let depression cause you to become obese and diabetic. Take control of your health. I greatly admire Pastor Jack Hyles, who never gave up, helping people in the ministry up until the very end...
“My crowd's either dead, retired or fallen! My crowd's not preaching and pastoring anymore.” —SOURCE: Pastor Jack Hyles, a life-changing quote from the classic sermon titled: “Slipery When Wet!”
You need to take care of your health for YOU, no one else! You cannot help others for Christ if you are miserable in your body. If you are obese, lose 30-40 pounds of weight and you'll feel much better. It all starts with having a right attitude and eating better. Don't eat big meals before you go to sleep at night. Don't eat past 6 p.m., because you'll gain more weight if you do. Eat your biggest meal early in the day, so you can burn it off. God made the human body to maintain a temperature of 98.6 F, which helps you lose weight. If you eat less, your body WILL BURN EXTRA FAT to maintain a temperature of 98.5 F, and you'll lose weight slowly. That is encouraging to know! Drink colder water, which requires more calories for your body to heat your body back up. Keep your air conditioner a bit colder. These are little tricks I use to maintain my weight. I love drinking lots of pure mineral water, which increases the body's metabolism.
It is hard to be spiritual when you are in pain! I redirect my frustrations and negative thoughts into my website ministry and soulwinning, focusing on the many promises of God in the inspired Words of God. The Bible is our spiritual food. Make sure you are eating healthy food in the King James Bible, and not eating the processed junk food of the modern corrupt Bible perversions!
Don't Let Life Turn You Bitter
Dear reader, please don't let life turn you bitter! Don't quit on God because man fails you. So many Christians are bitter in the churches today, holding a grudge, angry over the past, hellbent on taking revenge against those who have hurt them, and unforgiving of the fallen and those who've made mistakes. I warn you, don't hold a grudge, because God will hold it against you if you do! James 5:8-9, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.”
The father of Christian fundamentalism in America is considered Pastor J. Frank Norris (1877-1952). During the early nineteenth century, Brother Norris was pastor of the largest Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in America. Dr. Norris had many critics and enemies, which caused him to become bitter as a man. Dr. Jack Hyles states concerning Pastor Norris:
“I watched people start shooting at J. Frank Norris. Now, I watched him get bitter—and it's hard not to, when he's giving his life for the cause of Christ, and people start shooting at him—And by the way, it's always the religious people that do the shooting! It's never the secular crowd, it's always religious people that do the shooting! But I watched him get bitter, in his last years. And I watched him. He did not live as long as I have lived. He died about the age of 70, I think. But J. Frank Norris died a bitter man!” —SOURCE: Pastor Jack Hyles, a life-changing quote from the classic sermon titled: “Slipery When Wet!”
I noticed something very interesting in the preceding quote from Dr. Hyles. Anybody who is familiar with the story (which Pastor Hyles talks about in the preceding sermon), there are many similarities between the lives of Pastors' Jack Hyles and J. Frank Norris. To mention but a few: they both grew up poor, had drunkards for fathers, were sickly as boys, were both rejected by clergy peers, had the same heartaches in life, shared similar ministries, and amazingly, died at the SAME EXACT AGE OF 74! Dr. Hyles thought that he had lived longer the Brother Norris, as the preceding quote evidences, but they both died at age 74! Go figure!
I am thankful for that information from Pastor Hyles, because it encourages me that even great men of God are still human beings. J. Frank Norris was the faithful Pastor Jack Hyles of his day, an awesome preacher who uncompromisingly preached against sin and won thousands of souls to Jesus Christ!
“As you get older life becomes more complicated!” —SOURCE: Pastor Jack Hyles, a life-changing quote from the classic sermon titled: “Slipery When Wet!”
In criticizing a critic , you can easily become a critic! Don't hate the haters! Don't fight the fighters! The Bible tells us to love our enemies, and bless those who curse us! Watch out when people criticize and mistreat you, because you're the one who is on slippery ground. As we grow older, and health problems increase, and our children break our heart, increasingly tired and weary, more easily offended, and family members and friends betray us, and our spouse divorces us, and our life falls apart—it is very easy to become bitter, angry, resentful, more vocal and sharp with our words, and irritable about everything! I can relate to all of that!!! As Dr. Jack Hyles wisely says, life gets more slippery! I highly recommend listening to the preceding timeless sermon titled, “SLIPPERY WHEN WET!”
We've got to learn to trust upon the Lord, and lean not upon our own human understanding. Proverbs 3:5-7, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” Oftentimes, it is the sincerest people who become bitter later on, because they were sincere. They expected things to work out a certain way, but when they didn't, they became bitter at God, others and life. You don't have to become a causality!
In the Old Testament, the prophet Jonah became bitter. God had told Jonah to go preach the Gospel to the lost sinners in the city of Nineveh, which is the capital of the nation Assyria. Jonah fled and ran to Tarsus instead. You know the story. He got on a ship and long story short, was throw overboard by the ship's crew and then eaten by a whale. God was with Jonah and rescued him three days later, which is a type of Jesus being in Hell (the Paradise side of Hades) for three days and nights). When Jonah was vomited out on dry ground by the great fish, he ran so fast that he made a three day journey in just ONE DAY! When Jonah preached, the people repented an got right with God. Jonah became bitter, angry because he wanted the Ninevites to be destroyed for their sins!
Jonah 4:9-11, “And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”
Jonah wanted 60,000 people dead! The prophet was likely angry that he had just suffered a traumatizing ordeal, and yet the wicked people to whom he was sent repented, so they won't suffer at all. Whatever the reason, Jonah became bitter! We need to be careful not to become bitter, when we suffer in life, and others seem to have it easy. It is easy to become bitter at people who have a happy marriage, a paid home, loyal children and real friends; when our spouse divorces us, our adult children selfishly go their own way and forget about us, we lose our home in the divorce, and friends have been more of a burden than a blessing. Yet, God is always faithful.
Let Go, Let God!
Life is short friend and we ALL have to answer to God at the judgment someday. We must begin to realize that 10,000 years from now, none of this now will matter. Whatever pain someone has caused you in your life will come back on them if they have sinned against you. I KNOW God will hold people accountable for every unkind word spoken. Even our words matter to God, who designs every snowflake differently from each other. We read in the Scriptures that God will hold us accountable for “every idle word” (Matthew 12:36). How much more then, will God hold people accountable for lies, broken promises, violence, theft, self-righteousness, arrogant pride, et cetera?
How much more will God hold those people accountable that persecute and harass God's Child? The Bible says it would be better to have a big rock tied around your neck and be cast to the depths of the ocean, then to offend one of God's children (Matthew 18:6). God will avenge ALL. We will give account of "every word" on judgment day (Matthew 12:36).
We live in a fallen, imperfect world where bad things happen as a part of life (John 16:33). Television is a lie—suffering and unhappy endings are reality! Learning and comprehending certain truths will help us overcome the most bitter feelings, and allow us to move on with our lives for God. We must view life from eternity's perspective. We must view THE BIG PICTURE of what's going on in the world. Life is short with no guarantee of tomorrow, Proverbs 27:1. Someday, all tears will be wiped away forever, no more pain, no sorrow, no misery, no sickness, no death (Revelation 21:4). What a day that will be! Let these truths sink into your heart. Make sure you are a saved, born-again believer.
The way to overcome bitterness is to get so busy serving God that you don't have time to look back and worry about yesterday's sorrows. If you understand the New World Order and what is happening today in the world, then all of our other problems will be dwarfed in comparison.
Is there clutter in your heart? I'll feelings, that come and go from day to day? Does the past cause you to have nightmares at night? Do you live in the unrealistic world of... I should of, I would of, I could of? Hind-sight is 20/20 my friend. There is always something you thought you could have done to make things better. Only God knows the things that would have happened, if the things that happened hadn't happened.
You can't change the past, only learn from it. You can't do anything about water under the bridge, so you must change what you can change—YOURSELF. Get close to God! Start earning rewards in Heaven by praying, fasting, loving your enemies, and telling other folks about the Lord Jesus Christ and how to be saved. Start living for God and loving everyone with kindness and respect. Start saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Join an Independent Baptist Church that goes soul-winning. Don't let the devil defeat you, get even! Do some major damage to Satan's plans by winning people over from hell to Jesus Christ. When the Devil kicks me in the butt, I kick the Devil in the groin!
Search your heart for the truth of the matter, put it into God's hands and let the past go. Cling to Jesus as your best friend and never let Him go. The past is gone forever and it cannot be re-lived. What's done is done. What's said is said. it's been said that, “Yesterday is a cashed check, tomorrow is a promissory note; but we have cash to spend today.” In other words, yesterday's money is gone, and tomorrow's money may not be ours (because we may die); but we have TODAY and we can use it for God or Satan, for good or bad, doing constructive or destructive works. I'd hate to spend my life driving a beer truck, destroying people's lives as a newspaper editor, or robbing people as a Wall Street banker. I'd rather collect garbage for a living, going up and down the alleys of a large city; than to be wealthy from lying, cheating, bilking and hurting people in any number of highly crooked and dishonest professions today.
I couldn't write a book about bitterness, which is really just hurt feelings over something from the past. That's what we're talking about. If you've been cheated out of several thousands of dollars, so have I. If you've been betrayed by loved ones, so have I. If you've been publicly embarrassed, abused and forced into a situation of overwhelming mental anguish and inexplicable emotional turmoil and deep pain, I have been there on numerous occasions (and for prolonged periods of time, even lasting years).
I've had people say the cruelest things to me. I've been spit upon at work, had a hammer thrown at me, my work uniforms stolen, my car stolen and demolished, personal belongings stolen, my home broken into, my garage burglarized, harassed for my Christian faith, et cetera. If you've considered suicide, I've been there too. I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed with inexplicable mental duress, pain and panic. I know utter loneliness.
Albeit, I also know what God's miraculous sustaining grace and power are. I know that God loves me and doesn't want me to harm myself due to circumstances. “AND IT CAME TO PASS” is a common phrase mentioned 336 times throughout the Old Testament in the Bible. Amen! This too shall pass my friend. No matter how difficult and trying your situation, this too shall pass.
"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him" —Job 13:15
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