Dealing with Bitterness

Livin ForgivenIt is a simple but sometimes forgotten truth that the greatest enemy to present joy and high hopes is the cultivation of bitterness.  Robert Menzies

 Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do you struggle with bitterness?  I do.  Here’s what I have found:

 Two truths about Bitterness:  

1. Bitterness has a dangerous root.  See to it that…no bitter root grows upHeb. 12:15

See to it that no bitter root grows up.  How does a bitter root start?  A bitter root grows in  the soil of a wounded heart.   Someone betrays you, and instead of handling it scripturally, you absorb the hurt, because that’s what roots do.  A bitter root grows in the soil of a hurt that hasn’t been dealt with properly.  Bitter roots, they absorb the hurts, they store it and then they start to grow. Bitterness grows in my heart when I absorb a hurt instead of deal with it spiritually.

2. Bitterness produces a poisonous fruit.  …(a)  bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Heb 12:14-15

Whenever a bitter root grows up, many people, including you, will be corrupted by its poison.  A bitter person is like a rotten apple that affects all the apples around it.  Have you ever noticed this?  At work one bitter person can totally change the climate of the office.  The same is true with families.  One bitter family member can destroy the holidays.  One bitter family member can totally disrupt the unity and love in a family.  You can see it with teenagers.  You can take a group of great kids, drop in the middle of this group one bitter, angry, rebellious person.  All of a sudden, the whole group can to trend in a wrong direction.  This happens in church too. Bitterness, it produces a very poisonous fruit.  Personally I don’t want to poison the people around me with bitterness.

With Whom Are You Bitter?    Is it a parent, spouse, sibling, employer, church member or friend?

The beginning of healing is revealing.  Think of that person and acknowledge the hurt that was done.

Two Ways to kill the root of bitterness:

 1.     Get Rid of it.

 Get rid of all bitterness Eph 4:31

What do you do with a rotten apple?  I throw it out. It goes in the garbage immediately. No reason to keep a rotten apple in the house.  Why would we keep bitterness in our heart?  We need to get rid of it.  Don’t ignore it, forget it or down play it! Acknowledge the hurt, then choose to do the next step.

2.      Forgiveness.

 Get rid of all bitterness… forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph 4:31-32

How do you kill the root of bitterness?  You kill it with forgiveness. 

 There’s a story about two monks that will help illustrate.  Their tradition was that they were never to touch a woman, not a handshake, not a hug.  These two monks were on a journey, and they came up to a river.  And it had been raining, and the river had flooded and it was higher than normal, and on the side of river, at the bank, there was this woman in a beautiful wedding gown, and she was crying.  And the monks approached and said, “Ma’am, Can we help you?”  And she said, “It’s my wedding day and I need to get across the river, but I’m afraid if I do, it will ruin my hand-made gown, and I don’t know what to do.”  And the monks had a dilemma.  “We can’t touch … how can we help her?”  And finally, the first monk just thought, “You know what?  I think that God would honor this.”  He said, “Ma’am, could I help you across?”  And she said, “Would you?”  And he said, “I absolutely would,” and so he lifted her up in a very appropriate way and he grabbed her in his arms and he carried her above the water and took her across to the other side, and she just, with tears of joy said, “I’m so grateful,” and she gave him a great big hug.  And she left, and he waded back across the river.  And the second monk was there going, “How dare you.  How, how could you betray our tradition and touch a woman?”  And he was like, “I thought that was what I was supposed to do,” and so the two, they journeyed on.  And the next day, the second monk, he was still angry about it.  “ just don’t know how you could have done that,” and the following day the second monk was still just distraught.  He was beside himself.  And finally, the first monk said, “With all due respect, I sat the woman down two days ago, and you’re still carrying her in your heart.”

 So many people today still carrying what God wanted you to set down so long ago.  Forgiveness is letting go.

For some of you, it will be a choice and God will give you the ability to make a decision to forgive and you do.  For some of you though, it will be more of a process, it will still take God, but it is a process. We will look more at this process in a future post.

How are we to forgive?   …just as in Christ God forgave you Eph 4:32

  How has God forgiven you?”  For me, I’ve been a liar, a cheat, a thief, a drunk, lazy, disobedient, and lustful, the list could go on!  Christ has forgiven me of all this. He has forgiven you of your list when your trust Him.  That’s the good news!  Now he wants me to forgive people that I have on my list.  Christ wants you to forgive those who have hurt you.

I realize I have a choice. I can be bitter, or I can be better (through forgiveness). Will you make the choice to kill the root of bitterness?


 For more about the series, “Livin’ Forgiven”  go to


About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
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