Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
Joke: A wife always had complaints about her husband’s lazy attitude and every time she gets resentful, bitter, and yell at him angrily he never fought back. She was amazed at his calmness and asked him one day, “How do you control your anger even when I stiff my bones, raise my eyebrows, and angrily speak to you?” The husband said, “When you get angry at me I clean the toilet.” The wife said, “How does that help to control your anger?” “I use your toothbrush,” said the husband.
This morning we are going to study on how to overcome bitterness and anger.
We come across people who hurt us and we often find it very difficult to forgive them. Every time their name is brought up, it still brings butterflies to our stomach, our heart rate increases, and we feel our blood pressure rising. It’s as though we were reliving the hurts just hearing the person’s name.
Ephesians 4:31-32 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
There are a lot of different kinds of people around us. We see people bitter & angry at the world because it hasn’t given them enough; angry at God because they think He hasn’t treated them fairly; angry at their spouses because marriage is not everything they expected it to be; angry at their children; angry at their neighbors; angry at their job.
WHAT MAKES US BITTER AND ANGRY?
We all have expectations from people and when someone does not meet that expectation and hurt us it causes pain in us. Pain gradually develops into anger. Anger left uncontrolled develops into resentment and resentment turns into bitterness.
All through the process we are waiting for that person to come and ask for an apology. Do you know that the word “apologize” isn’t in the Bible? What if the person does not realize that they have hurt you? Or what if they actually haven’t intentionally hurt you (but you think they have)? They’ll never apologize and you’ll be bitter and angry waiting for an apology that will never come.
Illustration: CHAG members are scattered throughout the city and in many places there are more than 2 families living in one single street and usually if we go to a house we cover all the houses in that area. Once for an emergency I had to go to one house and never visited the other houses. These houses were hurt because they felt pastor ignored them. I didn’t know they were hurt. When I found their displeasure later I asked them why they didn’t let me know that they were hurt. They said that they didn’t want to bother me but they were bitter. How could I apologize when I didn’t know I had hurt them? I apologized immediately. Now, what if I had never found out that they were hurt and never apologized? They would have been angry at me forever!
Listen, it doesn’t matter if someone has actually hurt you or not. It is what you perceive others are doing to you that cause bitterness. You think they are doing wrong, intending bad, and get hurt whereas they wouldn’t even have a hint about it.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF BITTERNESS?
How can I know if I am bitter towards someone? Bitterness remembers details!
Most of us have forgotten what good we have done to others and more importantly what good others have done to us. We don’t remember details of most events. But when we are hurt by someone, we can remember every minute detail about them! We know every word that was said, the tone, the expression, the time, place, and circumstances of the event. We know exactly what happened.
How do we remember bitterness so much in detail? Because we have reviewed it over and over a thousand times in our mind but we don’t normally review the good things like that. We remember them, and enjoy them, then we set them aside but when we are bitter over something, we can’t let go of it, and it haunts us. Some details are even exaggerated after awhile.
Illustration: We have counseled people who are going through a divorce or marital discord. They are obviously angry and bitter. But do you know there have been thousands of good times in the marriage? They wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place, if they hadn’t loved each other at one time. But something happened and they are bitter now. They can’t remember the good times. All they can remember are the things that they have been rehearsing in their minds over and over and over again, that is bitterness.
Now, bitterness isn’t based on how big the offense is but on how close the offender is to you. Murder is a big offence. We read about murders daily in papers. We might be angry, but we don’t feel any bitterness towards the murderer, why? Because we don’t know them and it hasn’t affected our life.
Those who are close to us are the likely candidates of our bitterness. The most likely candidates for bitterness are: Your husband, wife, mother, father, children, brother, sister, boss, co-workers, friends, family, relatives, and sometimes even GOD!
Joke: A man and his wife were having some problems at home. It got so bitter that they were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5 am for an early morning business flight. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and lose), he wrote on a piece of paper, “Please wake me at 5:00 am.” He left it where he knew she would find it. The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 7 am and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn’t wakened him, when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, “It is 5 am. Wake up.”
HOW TO GET RID OF BITTERNESS?
People react differently when they are bitter. Some people keep it inside. You can see bitterness in the face of a bitter person. When you keep it inside it makes the person sick – physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. It can eventually kill you. So keeping bitterness inside is not good. Some people let it out. Psychologists tell to go to the person you are bitter against, and let it out. Most of us are not wise in handling this. We overreact in anger and in the process everybody gets bitter!
God has a better plan: Ephesians 4:31-32 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
The 3 essential ingredients in getting rid of hostility & anger are: be kind to one another; be compassionate towards one another; forgive one another.
1. Be kind to one another.
Titus 3:3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
Paul says that before salvation all of us (including Paul) lived a life where people hated us and we too hated them. This is the way the world behaves and we once used to behave. Now see what he says: Titus 3:4-5 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
Paul says that God was kind and merciful to us. If God reacted to us the way we react to one another, He would have washed his hands of us long ago. But instead, He reached out to save us with kindness and mercy and we are to show kindness and mercy to the ones who hurt us. We receive kindness and mercy from God and we give what we received not because they deserve it but it is our attitude because we receive freely and we give freely.
2. Be compassionate with one another
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another.
Compassion – means feel and understand what others are going through/suffer with another.
Illustration: When the Nazis occupied Poland in WW2 the troops came to a village & rounded up all the Jews there for execution. First they were forced to dig their own graves – a long shallow ditch. Then they were lined up along the ditch & machine-gunned. The impact of the bullets knocked their bodies into the ditch & the Nazis shoveled dirt on top of them. There was a 10-year-old Jewish boy with his parents in this group ready for execution. As the Nazi’s fired at this family none of the bullets hit this boy. When they fell into the ditch he fell with them, pretending to be dead splattered with the blood of his parents. The layer of dirt that was shoveled on top of him was so thin that it didn’t prevent air from getting to him, so he could still breathe.
The Nazis left, & when darkness fell several hours later this 10-year-old boy crawled his way out of the grave. With blood & dirt to his body he made his way to the nearest house & begged for help. Recognizing him as one of the Jewish boys marked for death the woman screamed at him to go away, & slammed the door on his face. He was turned away at the next house as well. In each case their fear of the Nazis overpowered any feelings of compassion they might have had.
He was tired and exhausted and spotted another house. When he approached the next family and as they opened the door he cried out, “Don’t you recognize me? I’m the Jesus you say you love.” After a pause the woman who stood in the doorway swept him into her arms & kissed him. From that day on that family cared for him as if he were one of their very own.
Understand what others are going through, be kind and compassionate.
3. Forgive one another. Forgive intentionally.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other.
I believe Paul had a reason for putting forgiveness last, because I don’t think we can really forgive somebody until we have learned to be kind & compassionate toward them.
Illustration: The wife of a non-Christian man happened to hear the gospel and gave her heart to Jesus. She had never heard of such a God before and it wasn’t long until she became a very committed Christian. When her husband learned of this he angrily confronted her not to attend a meeting again. However, eager to hear more about Jesus, she dared to go, & when her husband found out what she had done he met her on her way back from prayer, beat her so badly that he left her for dead.
But it wasn’t long until curiosity got the better of him & he went back to look for her. She was not where he had left her. But he did see signs to indicate she had crawled away. Following them he finally found her lying under a bush. Cruelly, he asked, “What is your Jesus doing for you now?” She opened her eyes, looked at him and said gently, “He is helping me to forgive you!”
Forgive intentionally the ones who hurt us.
We are a seeker generation and we seek kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. We want others to do be kind and compassionate to us. God expects us to be gives. Give and it shall be given unto you. When we give kindness, compassion, and forgiveness to others we receive the same from others. Therefore if you want kindness give, if you need compassion give compassion, and if you want forgiveness give forgiveness.
Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Bitterness makes us fall short of the grace of God. The Bible describes bitterness as a root. We can only take out bitterness completely if we take it out from its root. A root is underground. It can’t be seen but you can see its evidence – cracked foot path, big trees which are all proofs of roots. So we need to take bitterness out from its root through kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
Almost everyone here have been hurt by someone or the other knowingly or unknowing and we have the root of bitterness in us. There is no way we can enjoy of life without being merciful and quick to forgive. He knows what you think. He knows your hurts and your disappointments. Remember god has been kind to you and forgiven you, let’s be kind and forgive one another. Amen.