“Victory Over Bitterness”

November 15, 2016

Front yard oak 11/10/16
The large oak in front of our home is at its peak in autumn color

“Victory Over Bitterness”

Message Summary: Praise God for the redeeming, reconciling, regenerative and restorative work of Christ! Today I urge any of you dealing with bitterness to nip it at its root. Bitterness is nipped when we practice forgiveness. Certainly, you’ve been hurt; some of you in horrendously painful ways. But Christ continues to redeem, reconcile, regenerate and restore! Today please turn to Him.

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“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31). “See to it that …no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15).

PersimmonsLast week I mentioned that the persimmon is my least favorite fruit. I have a faint memory of it having a bad taste when I was young. I rarely see persimmons and was not even sure what they looked like before Jesse gave me a couple of them last week. I told him about my unpleasant memory of the persimmon. “The key is that they must be very ripe”, Jesse explained.  Now in his nineties, Jesse advised me that they must be really, really ripe to avoid the bad taste many describe as bitter and sour, even creating a puffiness in their mouths. Before ripening, persimmons usually have a “chalky” or bitter taste.

Have you eaten something and said, “It left a bitter taste in my mouth” such as I experienced with the taste of an underripened persimmon. Well, today let us consider an even worse experience; having a bitter attitude in our hearts.

I recall an interaction I had with a man many years ago. I sensed his hard, grizzled face had a story but he was not very talkative.  Over months of brief greetings I tried to break through the hard shell.  He told me he was a Vietnam vet but little else.  One week I was passing out small witness cards with this message, along with the daily Scripture verse, “When you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere” (attributed to Andy Rooney).

For some reason, likely prompted by the Holy Spirit, I handed him the card and said, “I sense this message is for you”. I hadn’t planned to say that, it just came out as I greeted him. Although my comment could have offended him he studied the quote and quietly nodded in agreement. I continued to see the man for some time and he seemed a bit more open but our paths stopped crossing and I really don’t know the outcome. Prayerfully a seed was planted.

Hebrews 12:15Bitterness can result from an unrelenting hostility or resentment you hold on to when you are hurt, offended or even disappointed by someone or by a tragic event. Sometimes bitterness can even be directed toward God. The hurt germinates in our heart and is characterized by an unforgiving spirit and generally negative, critical attitude. Bitterness and resentment are sinful attitudes that are self-defeating. Bitterness will impact your conscious and unconscious thoughts and actions. As one writer states, “Bitterness is unforgiveness fermented.” Allowed to fester, it will destroy and kill.

But so many people deal with bitterness, even Christians. In fact the daily Scripture portions are addressed to believers.  Bitterness indeed “causes trouble and defiles many”, primarily to the one harboring it but many others as well. Consider how one bitter family member can affect others.

Chuck SwindollChuck Swindoll writes, “Self-pity…. cuddle and nurse it as an infant and you’ll have on your hands in a brief period of time a beast, a monster, a raging, coarse brute that will spread the poison of bitterness and paranoia throughout your system.”

I am so thankful for the redeeming, reconciling, regenerative and restorative work of Christ! Today I urge any of you dealing with bitterness to nip it at its root. Bitterness is nipped when we practice forgiveness. Certainly, you’ve been hurt; some of you in horrendously painful ways. But Christ continues to redeem, reconcile, regenerate and restore! Today please turn to Him.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help me to realize that bitterness results from my accommodation to deep seated anger for unfortunate circumstances usually beyond my control. When I choose to harbor anger and an unforgiving spirit I do the greatest harm to myself rather than my offender. The pain and grief related to my heartache grows into a poisonous vine that begins to entwine itself around my heart. Instead of seeing the abundant blessings that You shower upon me daily and the countless times You’ve forgiven me for my sinful behavior, I focus on the raging storms that have left destruction and debris along my path. Father, You want me to turn away from my bitter rage and choose to safely abide under Your wings of protection. Help me to find refuge in You instead of cultivating my pain. Only You can bring healing and restoration for my soul. Help me to release my bitterness and embrace Your balm of healing. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

  • Holding onto bitterness or anger is like drinking poison and expecting your offender to die.
  • Forgiveness – Forgiveness is a decision to release yourself from anger, resentment, hate or the urge for revenge despite the injury you suffered.
  • Forgiveness is letting go of hope for a different past.  Dr. Richard Dobbins

Persimmons: I, Brooksyne, finally coerced Stephen and a co-worker to try the ripened persimmon that I had cut up. All three of us agree that it is an excellent fruit. It’s a reminder that some experiences in the past that leave a lingering negative thought due to a bad first impression is often worth revisiting since a different impression or outcome may come about. This can be true of relationships as well.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Forgiveness”  Video  Matthew West

“The Root of Bitterness”  Video  A sermon by A. W. Tozer

Finally today:

Brian Conrad 11/15/16
The last several days we have seen some progress on our summer deck project which had been stalled due to lack of labor. Although I have been trying to do as much as I can as a DIY project I have needed some help. I met Brian Conrad in one of the companies we serve as chaplains and he is presently between jobs so he’s come over to assist me. Brian has an interesting background. He was in prison for 10 years and was released this last January. While in prison he was involved in the prison chapel services and worked with a chaplain friend of mine, Frank Lewis. Brian is now seeking to stay on the “straight and narrow”.

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