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How to be Free From Bitterness by Jim Wilson

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How to be Free From Bitterness by Jim Wilson Empty Thank you

Post  Jason_Seeker on Sat 04 Feb 2012, 6:50 am

Thank you for taking the time to share this insight. For me, the breakthrough came when I realized the combination sin of pride OF bitterness. I've been aware for many years that sins can combine to form new sins and I thought I knew them all but, apparently my own pride hid this from me. No wonder the Hebrew word for pride is "white mist." I have ABSOLUTELY no idea why God has kept me from this for so long. Part of the problem (I think) is that, despite making massive progress in my theological understanding, I was real real hurt at the time it was taking to progress in my spiritual advancement. When I was married, my wife had certain sins which were keeping me from progressing myself, or rather her insistence that I suffer them was and this made me feel real bitter. Now; I did pay attention to what you said about distorted perception of blame, but a spouse really can sabotage a partner's faith; and that was what was happening. The only problem was, that since we split, I have been focusing entirely on her shortcomings, and not addressing my own bitterness, which I could only do once I realized it was concomitant with pride. I think time related pride issues have a certain paradoxical nature about them. In that; the more time goes by and we do not progress in the way that we feel we ought to have done, the more puffed up we become. The more puffed up we become, the more blinded we become. This then feeds into the bitterness and the whole thing is like a Ferris Wheel. Right now I feel so much anger at the time that's been wasted I feel like I could tear up a Galaxy. I feel God is reminding me of the virtue contained within the Scripture about His ability to redeem the time. But; unless God is prepared to travel me back in time, then that is futile. Truly, I don't know what I am going to do. I have five young children that have grown up without me, and scores of women who might have become soul mates if I hadn't been trying so hard to avoid a repeat of the previous malady. Why oh why did God make me wait this long to reveal such a simple simple thing ? I feel sick...

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How to be Free From Bitterness by Jim Wilson Empty How to be Free From Bitterness by Jim Wilson

Post  Admin on Tue 21 Jun 2011, 6:11 pm

How to be Free From Bitterness
by Jim Wilson
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with
every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each
other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as
dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave
himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph. 4:31-5:2).
In our text we are instructed to get rid of all bitterness. Before we begin
discussing how and why this must be done, it is crucial to realize that the
basis for all our actions in this regard must be what Jesus Christ has done for
us on the cross. In all our actions, we are to be imitators of God.
In the Old Testament, there was a woman whose name meant Pleasant. Her name was
Naomi and she had moved from Israel to another land with her husband and sons.
But her husband had died and within the next ten years both of her sons died.
She made some comments to her recently widowed daughters-in- law about it.
Ruth 1:13b: "... it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the
Lord has gone out against me!" She was comparing in order to determine who had
the right to be more bitter.
And in Ruth 1:20-21: "So she said to them, 'Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara,
for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord
has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has
testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?' ''
Her bitterness was toward God. It was God who had taken away her husband; it was
God who had taken away her sons, and she held it against Him. Five times in
these three verses she held God accountable for her bitterness.
There are many people like this today. Not only are they bitter, they enjoy
being bitter. They somehow like it, and they feed on it. They wouldn't know what
to do if they got rid of it; they wouldn't have a purpose for living. They like
being bitter.
We know people like that in the world, and we know people like that in the
church. It is easy to recognize when somebody is bitter. You can see it in the
eyes and in the lines of the face -- even if the person is young. You can see it
in their mouth, you can see it when they're smiling or laughing. They are bitter
and you can see it. You can hear it in the tone of their voices. You can hear it
when they protest that they are not bitter. The bitterness is central and
pervades everything.
There are bitter people in the Bible besides Naomi. In fact, there are quite a
few. For example, Jonah was a bitter man. The Lord said to him, "Do you have a
right to be angry about the vine?"
"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die" (Jon. 4:9).
He thought he had a right to his anger. I like being angry. God, you are wrong
to forgive people. I don't want you to forgive people.
People enjoy holding things against other people. But our text requires us to
remove all bitterness and to maintain a tender heart.
Here's the question: Is it possible to be kind, compassionate, tenderhearted and
yet bitter at the same time? These are all interior attitudes.
Tenderheartedness, by definition, involves a tender heart. Bitterness is also on
the inside. But it is not possible to have two different, contradictory
attitudes on the inside.
Paul says to get rid of all bitterness and to be kind and compassionate one to
another. Therefore, the bitterness must go. But before it can be removed, it is
necessary to know what it is -- and that it is there.
It is relatively easy to see when other people are bitter. But it's not so easy
to see it in ourselves. It is therefore important to have a good understanding
of the Bible's definition of the problem.
Let us suppose that a Christian commits a sin. He tells a lie, for instance. Now
when he tells this lie, does he feel guilty or does he feel bitter? The answer
is guilty. When we sin, we feel guilty. It is straightforward. Now let us
suppose that someone told a lie about this same Christian and spread it all over
town. What does he feel now -- guilt or bitterness?
Guilt is what we feel when we sin, and bitterness is what we feel when others
sin against us. The very definition of bitterness points to the action of
another. If we had committed the offense, we would feel guilty and would know
that we had to confess and forsake our sin.
We might not confess the sin, but not because we did not know what to do. But
what do we do with the guilt of others? Bitterness is always based upon someone
else's sin -- whether real or imagined.
Consider the imaginary sin first. Many times we can be bitter toward someone for
what he said, when in reality he did not say it. We heard a false report, and
now we are bitter. We wait for an apology which he cannot offer. Shall we remain
in bitterness the rest of our lives because he never says he is sorry for
something he did not do?
Incidentally, many bitter people cannot imagine the possibility that they are
bitter over imaginary sins. As far as bitterness is concerned, the other
person's guilt is always real. For such a person trying to be free from
bitterness, it is acceptable for them to assume the real guilt of the other
person, so long as they get rid of their own bitterness.
But what about genuine sin? There are many bitter people who really were
mistreated by the offender. So how do we deal with a genuine offense?
Bitterness is based on sin that somehow relates to you. It is not concerned with
how big the sin is; it is based upon how close it is.
For instance, if some great and gross immorality occurs in Iran, Iraq, El
Salvador, or Columbia, what do we do? We read about it, but we will not feel
guilty. We read about it, but we will not feel bitter. We might be appalled or
amazed, but we do not feel guilty, and we do not feel bitter. Nevertheless, it
was an awful sin, and someone actually committed it. So it does not depend on
how great the evil is, it depends on how close the other person is to me.
Bitterness is related to those people who are close.
Who are likely candidates? The answer is simple: fathers, mothers, brothers,
sisters, husbands, wives, children, boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates,
immediate superiors, immediate subordinates, co-workers, business partners, and
maybe some other relatives -- grandparents, uncles, and others. There are even
many people who are bitter against God.
We do not get bitter towards evil outside of our own immediate contact.
Bitterness is based upon somebody else's sin who is close to us, and who did
something to us. It might be minor. It does not have to be great, it just has to
be close . Does he pick up his socks? No? Can you get bitter over that? Well,
no, but what if he does it 5,000 times?
You may think you have a right to be bitter. But the Bible does not grant anyone
the right to be bitter. The text says to get rid of all bitterness .
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up
to cause trouble and defile many (Heb. 12:15).
Here it describes bitterness as if it were a root. A root is something that is
underground and cannot be seen. But there can be visible evidence of its
presence, as when sidewalks are lifted.
Roots do other things. The fact that you cannot see roots does not mean they are
not there. Neither does it mean you will never see them. They drink in
nourishment, and they do not stay roots. Eventually they come up.
The fruit that is born bears a direct relation to the root producing it. The
roots of an apple tree provide us with apples. If there is a bitter root, it
will bear bitter fruit.
That is what this verse is saying. Beware lest any root of bitterness spring up,
cause trouble, and defile many people, which means to make many people filthy.
Have you ever seen bitterness go through a church? Bitterness can go through a
congregation like a prairie fire. It can go through the work place or a
dormitory. Why is this? Somebody decided to share. He was bitter, let the root
come to the surface and bear fruit. He shared it and many people became bitter.
The author of Hebrews warns us about this. He says beware of missing the grace
of God. When you allow it, bitterness comes up and defiles many people. It makes
many people filthy.
What happens to a person if he keeps bitterness on the inside for many years?
What happens to him physically? Can he get physically sick? Suppose it is
bitterness toward some member of the family. He's kept it inside, he has not
shared it. He has not defiled many people -- he has kept it down inside. When he
keeps it inside for some years, he finally begins to hurt. He goes to the doctor
and the doctor says, "You are right, you are sick. But your sickness is not the
kind I deal with. I am going to send you to the other kind of doctor."
So he sends him to the psychiatrist, and the psychiatrist agrees. "Yes, you are
sick all right. And I know why you are sick. You are sick because of 20 years of
bitterness towards your father. You have kept it suppressed all these years and
it's just rotted out your insides. You have kept this poison within and this
acid on the inside has made you just physically ill. So what I want you to do is
I want you to go home and share it with your father. Why keep it in and get
sick? Let it out. Get everybody else sick."
So the world has two solutions. Keep the bitterness in, and make yourself sick,
or let it out and spread the sickness around. God's solution is to dig up the
root. Get rid of it. But this takes the grace of God . A man must know the Lord
Jesus Christ to be able to do this. He is the source of grace.
The world's solutions for bitterness shouldn't be used by Christians. When
Christians copy the world, they have two poor choices.
The Bible says to get rid of all bitterness. You must not keep it in and you
must not share it. Surrender it to the Father, through the Son.
But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast
about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is
earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish
ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice (James 3:14,15).
When I was a young midshipman at the Naval Academy, I thought that the pettiness
and jealousy I observed would give way to maturity. I thought the higher you got
in rank, the more mature you became, the less this sort of thing occurred. But
as I grew older I found out that the jealousy just got more intense. Bitterness
accumulates . Unless there's a solution to it, people do not get less bitter
with maturity. They get more bitter over the years. It gets worse and worse.
And if you harbor bitter envy, evil practice will result. It does not come from
heaven. It is straight from the pit and is of the devil. Every evil practice
results from this attitude. As should be obvious, we have a real problem. How do
we get rid of bitterness?
Before we can get rid of bitterness, we have to realize that we are bitter. How
can we tell if we are bitter?
One good rule of thumb is this: Bitterness remembers details . You have had
thousands of conversations in your life, most of which you have forgotten. But
this one took place five years ago, and you remember every single word, his
intonation and the inflection of every part of his voice. You know exactly what
happened -- which means you are bitter.
Someone might object and say that it is also possible to have a good memory of a
wonderful conversation. Is this possible? Yes, but not likely. Why is this?
Because memory is helped by review, review, and more review . People do not
usually mull over the wonderful things as much. But they do go over and over and
over the bad things. I have done quite a bit of counseling with people who are
in the process of getting divorced. I have known some since the time they were
married, at a happier time in their life. But at the time of the divorce they
cannot remember a single happy time. All they can remember is that which they
have gone over and over. They are bitter.
This doesn't mean there were not happy times. It just means that they have
concentrated on how right they were and how wrong the other person was. If
someone has a sharp, detailed memory for things which happened years ago when he
was a child, or a young man or woman, and that memory is at all accusative of
anyone else, then it is an indication of bitterness. And the solution for
bitterness is to get rid of it.
I had a wonderful experience one time in Dallas, Texas. I was speaking on a
Saturday night at the home of an old friend. Because I was going to be in
Dallas, I wrote notes to several people that I'd known from different parts of
the country at other times, and they showed up at this home.
My host asked me to speak on bitterness, which I did. Afterwards, a couple came
up to see me. I had known them eight years before in Pullman, Washington. The
wife came up to me and said, "We have been married for eight years. The first
year of marriage I was so bitter toward my mother that I laid it on my husband
every single day. Our first year of marriage was just awful because I kept
sharing this bitterness toward my mother with my husband."
She then told me that seven years ago I had spoken on bitterness and she had
gotten rid of hers. One day she saw another woman who was really bitter towards
her mother. She thought, "I can help that woman. I can share all the common
experiences. I went to her to share this, and I couldn't remember any of the
details. My detailed memory had gone. All I could tell her was I used to
remember things, and I do not remember them anymore." The Lord had really taken
care of her bitterness.
Another time I was teaching a four-week course on marriage. I had put a notice
in the paper and did not know who would show up. A woman came who had been
referred to the class by a doctor. She came in and I can honestly say that I
have never seen anybody more bitter in appearance in my life. She had forty
years of accumulated bitterness. She got rid of it that night and made an
appointment to see me the next day at the bookstore where I worked. She came in
the store, and I did not know who she was. She looked so different . I had just
met her the night before, but she was clean inside now.
What is the problem? Why is it we do not get rid of bitterness? If I tell a lie,
I can confess it and be forgiven. In order to get rid of it I have to bring it
back to my own heart. We need to bring the realization of bitterness back to our
own hearts. Instead, the temptation is to look at the offender. Look what he
did. That is the nature of bitterness. In order to get rid of it, I need to
recognize it is my problem before I can confess and forsake it.
But you say, "I am not bitter. I just get hurt easily." But the symptoms of
getting hurt are very close to the symptoms of resentment.
Do you know what instant resentment is? You might say. "It is not bitterness --
it is just hurt feelings." But there is a close
relationship between being hurt and being resentful. Someone gets hurt and he
gets resentful. There is another very close connection between resentment and
bitterness. Resentment turns into a deep bitterness.
Bitterness is just resentment that has been held on to. It has become rancid and
rotten. It is kept in and it gets worse. The links in the chain continue. There
is a connection between bitterness and hatred, and a very clear biblical
identification between hatred and murder. What I am saying is that hurt can lead
to murder. Some might object that this teaching is too strong. But the strength
of it is from the Bible.
What we want to do is make it apparent how sinful bitterness is . The bitter
person must first recognize that he is bitter, and secondly, that it is a gross
evil. Again, the reason people do not deal with this sin is that they think it
is the other person's sin. The devil says, "Well, when he quits lying, or he
quits doing this or that, or when he says he's sorry, then you will feel
better."
But suppose he does not quit? Suppose he never quits? Are you going to be bitter
the rest of your life because someone else insists on being in sin? That does
not make any sense at all. You may say, "I will forgive him when he says he is
sorry, but not until then. I have a right to my bitterness until then. When he
says he is sorry, I will forgive him and everything will be fine." You keep this
wall of bitterness up, and one day he comes to you and he says, "I'm sorry." Can
you now forgive him? No, because bitterness doesn't forgive. In order to forgive
this person when he says he is sorry you have to be ready before he says he is
sorry. And if you are ready to forgive him before he says he is sorry, then it
doesn't depend on whether he says he is sorry or not. In other words, you get
rid of bitterness unilaterally. It does not matter what the other person does.
Earlier the point was made that bitterness seems to stem from the other person's
sin -- real or imagined. That is only how it appears. In reality bitterness is a
sin that stands alone. The bitter person decides to be bitter independently of
the offender.
But you say, "No, he sinned against me, and when he says he is sorry everything
will be fine." But this is not true.
I've known situations where an apology was offered and the person is still
bitter. Suppose the offender is dead and cannot apologize. I know people who are
extremely bitter and the bitterness is toward their parents who died years ago.
But the bitterness has not died. Bitterness is the sin of the bitter person
alone, unrelated to anybody else.
One time I went to the Walla Walla State Penitentiary to spend the day with the
inmates. It was around Christmas. I spent about six hours there. During the
afternoon, I was in maximum security, talking about and teaching evangelism.
This one fellow asked about reaching the really hard-core criminals. I thought
he was really interested in such evangelism and talked to him about it. Then I
spent time in minimum security, protective custody and other places. In the
evening I was back in maximum security, and thought I'd talk on this subject of
bitterness. I figured there were probably some bitter people there.
This same fellow who asked about evangelism in the afternoon asked me another
question. He said, "How can you get rid of bitterness towards somebody who beat
up your three-year-old son unmercifully? " So I told him how, and then I said,
"You know, when you get rid of your bitterness you can help this person so that
he won't beat up other little kids."
He said, "No, this guy cannot be helped."
I said, "Sure, he can."
"No, no."
"Why not?"
"He is not with us any more."
This inmate had murdered him. He had murdered him because of what he had done to
his three-year-old son -- that's why he was in prison. But even though he had
killed the man, he was still bitter . In other words, expressing it did not get
rid of it.
When somebody else says he is sorry, it does not get rid of our bitterness. The
only thing that gets rid of it is confession before God because of the Lord
Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. This is the only solution .
We must not keep it and we must not share it with others. There is only one
thing to do and that is to confess it as a great and evil sin. We must be as
persistent in the confession as necessary.
Once I was speaking at Monterey, California, at the U.S. Naval Post-Graduate
School. There was a man there who had a great reputation as a Bible teacher. He
was a line officer in the Navy, but he had been passed over for the command of a
submarine. He did not have command of a submarine and he was bitter. I spoke on
confession of sin and bitterness, and he was really wiped out. He came and saw
me and got rid of this bitterness. The next morning, his wife said to me, "I've
got a new husband." He had been bitter toward the Navy. But it was his sin, not
the Navy's.
Amy Carmichael has a note in her little book If . "For a cup brimful of sweet
water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted. " If
it is full of sweet water and is jolted, what will come out of the cup? Sweet
water. If you gave it a harder jolt, what's going to happen? More sweet water.
If someone is filled with sweet water and someone else gives him a jolt, what
will come out? Sweet water. Jolts do not turn sweet water into bitter water.
That is done by something else.
Jolts only bring out of the container what's already in the container. If you're
filled with sweetness and light, and you get jolted, you're going to spill
sweetness and light. If you're filled with honey, the honey will come out. If
vinegar comes out, what does that prove? It shows what was already in the
container. In other words, much bitterness is not based upon what the other
person did at all. It is the result of what we do and are.
Many years ago, I was working in our bedroom at my desk. My wife, Bessie, was
reading in bed. Whatever I was doing wasn't going well. Bessie said something to
me and I turned around and let her have it. It was something unChristian. She
looked at me in amazement and got up and left the room. I sat there thinking,
"She should not have said it. Look what she said. Look, look, look." I did that
for around 10 minutes, maybe longer. I was bitter toward Bessie, but all she did
was jolt the cup. What was in the cup came out of the cup.
If I had been filled with sweetness and light, it would not have made any
difference. I sat there and thought about what she did. I knew better, because I
had already learned this truth about bitterness. Still, I thought about her
"sin" because there is enjoyment in accusing the other person. Some people do
this for years.
I sat there for a while and then got up and went over to my side of the bed, got
on my knees and said, "Lord, I was the only one at fault. It was my bitterness
and my sin. I am confessing it, forsaking it, and please forgive me."
I got up off my knees and said, "But look what she said." I got back on my
knees.
"God, I'm sorry for what I did. I accept the responsibility. It was my sin and
mine only."
I got up off my knees and said, "God, you and I know who is really at fault." I
knelt back down. I stayed on my knees for 45 minutes until I could get up and
not say, "Look what she said."
I do not remember now what she said, and I do not remember what I was doing at
the desk. I do not remember the details. The only thing I remember now is
getting up. But I also know that if I had not taken care of the bitterness I
would know to this day exactly what she had said . That is the nature of
bitterness.
In order to get rid of it, I have to see that it is evil and that it is my sin
and my sin only. I do not get rid of it through the other person saying he is
sorry. I do not get rid of it if the other person quits or dies. I do not get
rid of it any other way except calling it sin against the holy God, confessing
it and receiving forgiveness.
The difficulty is in getting my eyes off the other person's sin. But just the
fact that I think it is his problem shows that it is not. If it were his
problem, and I was filled with sweetness and light, and not bitter, then I would
be concerned about the other person.
I could say, "That poor guy! Look what he did. If I did something like that, I
would feel awful. He must really feel awful. I think I will go help him." But if
that is not my response then I am bitter, and it is my sin, not his.
I believe that this sin is a major hindrance to revival in this country. When
Christians start confessing their sins, they will be able to forgive the sins of
others.
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