According to Hebrews 12:15, bitterness is a “root attitude” of the heart that grows where there is a shortage of grace. Roots grow downward, going deeper and getting more deeply embedded. The root of bitterness also causes other sins to grow upward and outward, “causing trouble” and “defiling many” other people. But how do we kill this root?
One of my favorite yard “tools” is Roundup, the liquid weed and grass killer that gets into the plant’s internal “circulatory system,” going deep down to kill the very root—for good. Consider the following list as Biblical Roundup for the Bitter Soul.
- Daily remind yourself that your sin against God, which has already been forgiven in Christ, is greater than anyone else’s sin against you and that your new standard for forgiving others is how much God has forgiven you (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13).
- Consciously put away every form of bitterness and refuse to take up offenses for the hurts of others (Eph 4:31).
- Confess to God that your bitterness has surrendered ground to Satan, giving him a place in your life (Eph 4:26-27).
- Remember that no injury you have experienced, or ever will experience, can compare to the injury received by Christ who prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
- Forgive from your heart those who have hurt you, real or imagined, intentional or unintentional (Matt 18:35).
- Consciously remember Joseph (Gen 50:20). Remind yourself of the truth that if you are a believer then God is always working behind the scenes for your good to conform you to the image of Christ (Rom 8:28-29).
- Never seek revenge or make people pay for their sin (Rom. 12:19). Jesus already paid for it completely (1 Pet 3:18).
- Remember that God’s anger against you, and your sin, has been propitiated by Christ (Rom 3:25; 1 Jn 2:1-2). Therefore, you have no biblical right to harbor anger toward another.
- Humble yourself and ask forgiveness from those against whom you’ve been bitter (Matt 5:23-24).
- Bless those who hurt you; overcome evil with good (Rom 12:19-21).
- Pursue love for one another, which covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8).
- Actively choose not to remember the wrongs that others have committed against you. Actively choosing not to remember is different than forgetting. In Jeremiah 31:34, God says he will “remember no more” the sins of his people. This is not memory failure or forgetfulness. This is God’s conscious choice to no longer hold our sins against us. We must do the same with the sins of others.
- Destroy “lists of sins” committed against you, mental lists or actual, written lists (1 Cor 13:5).
- Make peace with others, as much as is in your power (Rom 12:18). If a person from whom you’ve asked for forgiveness refuses to do so, but chooses instead to remain your enemy, then love them and pray for them while you continue to obey God and guard your own heart from bitterness (Matt 5:44).
- Trust God to judge righteously (1 Pet 2:23).