I’ve been preaching at myself, and thought I’d share my sermon notes.
How is bitterness defined?
Merriam-Webster.com defines bitterness as: a deep-seated ill will.
Words related to bitterness: resentment, feud, vendetta, score, hatred, loathing, estrangement, annihilation, conflict, strain, tension, spitefulness, venom…
The very act of reading those words make muscles tense.
Bitterness has the same effect.
It’s a familiar burden that always comes with a price. The cost is joy.
Bitterness typically begins with justification. I was mistreated and wronged, and I have the right to be angry. I begin to list all the reasons why I should feel angry. I disconnect, isolate, fume, or gossip, and I grab my pen and my record-keeping book.
Now, I don’t actually have a notebook or a yellow pad that I keep record on, because I don’t need paper or pens. I’ve got my memory and it keeps perfect score.
In my mid-thirties, I learned about living with boundaries (better late than never). I found it to be healthy and necessary, and set out to have some. Over time I came to realize that I was sometimes misusing them. It was not ever intentional. I discovered that when I finally had the power of a boundary, as an amateur, I had the tendency to go to the extreme…erecting barricades to keep my offenders out.
You might also guess that I have a “flight” issue as well.
I would so much rather run away or build a fortress around me, than to ever feel vulnerable or unsafe.
The real deal here is that although I am often a flight risk, with trust issues, I’m also a grown-up who is now safe. A grown-up with options and choices.
It’s been a learning process, of which I’m am still the student.
1 Corinthians 13: 5 says:
“Love does not keep a record of wrongs.”
rejoices in truth
bears all things
Reading over these words, I notice that it’s inferring that love requires action. Love always requires an action.
When faced with the offender, to be patient or kind is to actively chose to regard the other over yourself.
To understand there is often a back-story, and they may have spoken or acted out of their own pain.
To rejoice in truth. To seek it out, to speak it, or to be willing to listen to truth.
To believe that all people are worthy of the cross, and a candidate for forgiveness, just like me.
To hope for repentance, connection, and restoration.
To be willing to endure some suffering, because I’m not a featherweight.
It has been said that we find out what is truly inside a person, when they are tipped over or broken.
I do not want to be filled with bitterness, anger, or any of the things related to bitterness.
I am still learning how to love others well, and truly see them through God’s eyes.
I want mercy to flow out of my forgiven heart.
I want grace to spill out of my imperfections.
I want hope to wash over every person I live with, work with, serve with, and meet.
I want love to cover a multitude of sins…because His blood covered mine.
The ultimate example of LOVE went to the Cross, and made it possible for me to LIVE forgiven.
Bitterness cannot reside in a heart of love.
Side note: There are situations when a boundary must be put up. No one should be abused, harmed, or threatened. That is another conversation that needs to be had with a professional counselor or pastor.