Do Not Be Bitter – Be Better

Do Not Be Bitter – Be Better

We all know who they are. Maybe they are a friend, a co-worker, or a family member. Even sadly, they are found amongst God’s people: the church. They walk around with hatred and anger in their hearts. They rarely smile, and their words are infused with venom. Their attitude is sour, and their demeanor is repulsive. These people suffer from a sin the Bible calls “bitterness.” It can be found in all walks of life, from the workforce to sports. It can affect everyone, and it is contagious. This time of year, we think of characters such as the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge as displaying bitterness. However, if we are not careful, bitterness can be the adjective that describes us and not just a fictional character on a TV screen.

We should also understand that bitterness is not always noticeable in a person. Some people bottle this bitterness inside and it grows until eventually it will surface. Outwardly, one might seem respectable; outwardly, they may appear responsible, but inwardly, their heart is filled with hate and bitterness. If not treated and defeated, bitterness will destroy the soul.


The Greek word for bitterness is only found in four New Testament passages (Acts 8:23; Romans 3:14; Ephesians 4:31; Hebrews 12:15), and it is defined in two ways: 1) It can refer to plants that produce inedible or poisonous fruit and 2) It can refer to the emotional state of a person who shows animosity, anger, envy resent or jealousy. Bitterness is a hostile disposition and a poisonous frame of mind that causes people to brood, scowl, and become repulsive.


Is bitterness a serious matter? Yes, bitterness is a serious matter because it is the result of sin and the guilt of sin; sin is serious because it will separate us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). An individual with a guilty conscience often becomes bitter and repulsive. Paul admonished us to remove all bitterness from our lives (Eph. 4:31). We are told when we read about Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8:4-13 that he was “poisoned by bitterness.” We could look at many more examples, but we can see that bitterness needs to be seriously considered and avoided.


The godly person has two options: either have your sins washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ or allow sin to destroy your soul. The only way to truly and wholly defeat bitterness is to destroy sin. Sin is the root problem. Sin produces guilt, and guilt produces hatred and bitterness. To defeat bitterness, you must destroy the root of the problem. A tree cannot survive without a root system. Neither can bitterness survive without the root system of sin.


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