* Removing bitterness from your life
It is refreshing to see Esau’s change of heart when the two brothers meet again. The bitterness over losing his birthright and blessing seems gone. Instead, Esau was content with what he had. Jacob even exclaimed how great it was to see his brother obviously pleased with him.
Life can bring us some bad situations. We can feel cheated, as Esau did, but we don’t have to remain bitter. We can remove bitterness from our lives by honestly expressing our feelings to God, forgiving those who have wronged us, and being content with what we have. (NLT)
Genesis 33:1-11 – Then, in the distance, Jacob saw Esau coming with his four hundred men. Jacob now arranged his family into a column, with his two concubines and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed low seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him affectionately and kissed him. Both of them were in tears.
Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you? “These are the children god has graciously given to me,” Jacob replied. Then the concubines came forward with their children and bowed low before him. Next Leah came with her children, and they bowed down. Finally, Rachel and Joseph came and made their bows.
“And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?” Esau asked. Jacob replied, “They are gifts, my lord, to ensure your goodwill.” “Brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered. “Keep what you have.”
“No, please accept them,” Jacob said, “for what a relief it is to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the smile of God! Please take my gifts, for god has been very generous to me. I have more than enough.” Jacob continued to insist, so Esau finally accepted them.
* Don’t mix despair with bitterness
Naomi had felt bitter, but her faith in God was still alive, and she praised God for Boaz’s kindness to Ruth. In her sorrows, she still trusted God and acknowledged his goodness. We may feel bitter about a situation, but we must never despair. Today is always a new opportunity for experiencing God’s care. (NLT)
Ruth 2:19-20 – “So much!” Naomi exclaimed. “Where did you gather all this grain today? Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”
So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man whose field she had worked. And she said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”
“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”
* Bitterness can build to an obsession
Hatred and bitterness are like weeds with long roots that grow in the heart and corrupt all of life. Haman was so consumed with hatred toward Mordecai that he could not even enjoy the honor of being invited to Esther’s party. Hebrews 12:15 warns us to “watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison.” Don’t let hatred and its resulting bitterness build in your heart. Like Haman, you will find it backfiring against you. If the mere mention of someone’s name provokes you to anger, confess your bitterness as sin. Ignoring bitterness, hiding it from others, or making superficial changes in behavior is not enough. If bitterness isn’t completely removed, it will grow back making matters worse. (NLT)
Esther 5:9 – What a happy man Haman was as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, he was furious.
* Forgiveness changes bitterness to joy
In the story of the lost son, the father’s response is contrasted with the older brother’s. The father forgave because he was filled with love. The son refused to forgive because he was bitter about the injustice of it all. His resentment rendered him just as lost to the father’s love as his younger brother had been. Don’t let anything keep you from forgiving others. If you are refusing to forgive people, you are missing a wonderful opportunity to experience joy and share it with others. Make your joy grow: Forgive somebody who has hurt you. (NLT)
Luke 15:30 – [Jesus said] “Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the finest calf we have.’
* Turning bitterness to opportunity
Being imprisoned would cause many people to become bitter or to give up, but Paul saw it as one more opportunity to spread the Good News of Christ. Paul realized that his current circumstances weren’t as important as what he did with them. Turning a bad situation into a good one, he reached out to the Roman soldiers who made up the palace guard and encouraged those Christians who were afraid of persecution. We may not be in prison, but we still have plenty of opportunities to be discouraged—times of indecision, financial burdens, family conflict, church conflict, or the loss of our jobs. How we act in such situations will reflect what we believe. Like Paul, look for ways to demonstrate your faith even in bad situations. Whether or not the situation improves, your faith will grow stronger. (NLT)
Philippians 1:12-14 – And I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ.
* Danger of bitterness
Like a small root that grows into a great tree, bitterness springs up in our hearts and overshadows even our deepest Christian relationships. A “bitter root” comes when we allow disappointment to grow into resentment, or when we nurse grudges over past hurts. Bitterness brings with it jealousy, dissension, and immorality. When the Holy Spirit fills us, however, he can heal the hurt that causes bitterness. (NLT)
Hebrews 12:15 – Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on the special favor of God. Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison.
* – John echoes Jesus’ teaching that whoever hates another person is a murderer at heart. Christianity is a religion of the heart; outward compliance alone is not enough. Bitterness against someone who has wronged y9ou is an evil cancer within you and will eventually destroy you. Don’t let a “bitter root” grow in you or your church. (NLT)
1 John 3:15 – Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.
* Poor often affected by bitterness
When James speaks about the poor, he is talking about those who have no money and also about those whose simple values are despised by much of our affluent society. Perhaps the “poor” people prefer serving to managing, human relationships to financial security, peace to power. This does not mean that the poor will automatically go to heaven and the rich to hell. Poor people, however, are usually more aware of their powerlessness. Thus, it is often easier for them to acknowledge their need for salvation. One of the greatest barriers to salvation for the rich is pride. For the poor, bitterness can often bar the way to acceptance of salvation. (NLT)
James 2:5 – Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the kingdom God promised to those who love him?
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