“The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.” Proverbs 14:10
Bitterness is often caused by painful memories. It means to be angry, to bear wounds in the heart, or to feel unhappy or malicious because of unfair treatment. The mistreatment is often experienced from a loved one like a parent, husband, wife or a trusted friend.
Though bitterness is rooted in the emotions, it is not a psychological problem. Bitterness is a spiritual problem. Therefore, it can only be dealt with by the power of Christ.
Bitterness can hide in your heart for many years and you’ll never be aware of it. It is often hideous and likes to express itself with self-justifying reasons or explanations.
How Bitterness Manifests
One of the primary ways that bitterness shows itself is through anger. Bitterness itself simply means hidden hurts, wounds or anger.
You’ll think there’s no bitterness in your heart until you come across someone who hurt you deeply some years back. Then you notice that instead of feeling joyful and excited, you feel angry and resentful toward that person.
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3 Reasons Why Bitterness Is Not Good for You
It creates a wide gulf between you and God.
God, in His Word, commands us to forgive those who hurt us and to bless them. This is because God dwells only in a pure heart. He certainly knows that bitterness defiles the heart and spirit of man, making the heart unfit to accommodate God’s presence and holiness. Bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit of God and he doesn’t dwell in such environments!
Ephesians 4:30-31 states, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” (emphasis added)
It gives Satan an opportunity to accuse you and hinder your prayers and blessings.
The devil is a crafty enemy. He will often look out for the tiniest reasons or excuses to accuse you before God and hinder your prayers. You must deprive him of such opportunities! Second Corinthians 2:11 tells us, “…lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices”.
It robs you of good health, a sound mind and God’s favor.
Bitterness is poisonous to your entire system. Harboring bitterness opens the door to sicknesses and diseases. You open yourself to demon spirits that can influence you to make wrong choices! Simon, a new believer, lost a great opportunity to be blessed by God’s anointed servant, Apostle Peter, because of bitterness. Acts 8:22-23 tells us, “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” (emphasis added)
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How to Eradicate Bitterness
It is important that you uproot bitterness from your heart and life.
Hebrews 12:15 states, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (emphasis added)
Uprooting bitterness from your life automatically deals with anger. It removes certain troubles from your life.
These four steps will show you how to eradicate bitterness.
Ask the Holy Spirit of God to search your heart and show you any root (causes) of bitterness in your heart.
This is an important step to take because it is possible that past hurts and bad experiences have created bitterness in your heart without your own awareness. The heart is deep, and no man can really know all the contents of his heart except the Spirit of God who searches it. Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties.”
As the Spirit of God searches your heart and reveals the hurts, emotional pains, hidden anger and past disappointments, determine to let them go!
Pray earnestly, asking God to uproot them all. If you ask him, he’ll surely help you. Your heart was designed to be a dwelling place of the Living God. That’s why the devil causes people to hurt you. He doesn’t want your heart to be a fitting dwelling place of God, knowing fully well that God only dwells in a heart free from bitterness and anger. That’s why you must be deliberate about it.
Be bold to forgive.
A powerful instrument to help you eradicate bitterness is forgiveness. You must forgive the people who were directly involved, whether parent, child, spouse or a trusted friend. You’ll also have to forgive yourself for any role you played in any particular situation that brought bitterness into your heart.
Forgiveness has great benefits. You can’t buy them with money. For instance, you can have peace of mind, joy, better health, and improved relationships. Forgiveness can bring healing. It can bring great deliverances from serious problems. That is why Scripture commands you to forgive. (See Matthew 18:21-35).
Let the love of God fill your heart.
Remember we live in a broken world filled with broken people. Besides, some of the people who might have hurt you so much might not have done it deliberately. It might be as a result of what their own loved ones did to them in the past. There are fathers who embitter their wives and children because their own fathers did the same thing to them.
Ask God to fill your heart with His unconditional love. He will grant you the ability to love even those might have hurt you in the past. Yes, you can love again! Jesus will enable you by His mighty power to love that friend who betrayed your trust or to love the husband who cheated on you. Remember, love is so strong that it never fails. Love is stronger than bitterness and anger, but to experience the power of love, you must determine to allow God’s love to fill your heart.
As you take these few steps, expect a change in your heart and life!
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Angela Lowe, MS. Ed., LPC
Angela Lowe is a licensed Professional Counselor, trained Biblical Counselor and certified Holistic Health Coach. Her kingdom mandate is to restore God’s counsel to transform lives, marriages, and churches worldwide.