Bitterness: What do I do with it?

Have you ever been hurt , attacked, misused, offended, abused or falsely accused by another person?  Many of us have.  Maybe the other person has wronged us greatly, sometimes unknowingly, but many times knowingly and viciously.

What do we do?

We do not forget, do we?  It is always there.  We can train our minds not to think about it or dwell on it.  That is very much like suppressing it, pushing it down.  But does it go away? No.  It keeps surfacing.  Why?  If we had truly forgiven that person, it would not keep surfacing and coming to mind with that “hurt” feeling.

That is bitterness. It has a deep root, and we think we have it all under control and suppressed out of our mind, but then it pops up its ugly head.  In the Hebrews 12, it talks about this root of bitterness: “Looking diligently…lest a root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and by it many be defiled.”  We have to watch for this and recognize it as bitterness against another person.  Bitterness that first defiles the one holding the bitterness, and then defiles many around that person.

How does it defile?  It makes us so we cannot forgive.  It does not allow us to forgive the offense and let it go.  We get to thinking that we are justified in the feelings of hurt.  It keeps us in bondage.  Forgiveness never means that what the other person did or said  was right or acceptable.  But we have no right not to forgive.  We have been forgiven by God of all our sins and trespasses. Forgiveness means that we are willing to give up our right to hold the other person accountable, and we relinquish our right to revenge.  God says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”  It is our work of faith to offer this offence up to the Lord, give it up, give it away.  It is no longer ours to own.  Then we have no right to revenge, and best of all, it cannot hurt us or keep us in bondage any longer.  The Lord takes it all.

This is surrender.  It is surrendering our will to Him, allowing Him to take care of it. Sometimes we like to feel the victim complex.  That make us feel justified that they wronged us.  Maybe they did, but forgiveness surrenders all of that.

Elizabeth Elliot said, “Anything offered up to God is a Gateway to Joy.”  Can the Lord take the “sacrifice of praise” offered up to Him, and turn it to good for us?  (Hebrews 13:15 says…”By Him (by Christ, by His forgiveness extended to us for our sin, by His grace), therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.”

Do I believe the sovereignty of God? Do all things work together for good?  Is it not true that the Lord allows these things in our lives to purify us, to draw us to Himself, and to make us more Christ-like?

Would I go so far to say that the Lord purposely had that person to offend us, so that we could learn what it means to forgive, to offer the offense to God, so He can deal with that person (if it was a purposefully vicious attack)?  Is his ultimate goal for us to be more like Christ?

What did Christ do?

He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Remember the Lord knows and hears ALL.  Go to Him, and release all of it on Him.  Guard your heart against bitterness.  Bitterness blinds us.  It blinds our minds and our thinking.
Revenge holds us captive to internal torture, and keeps us in bondage.
It will affect how we think, how we act, what we do and say, and it will affect our health.
Literally, it will destroy us.

Surrender to the Lord all bitterness. The sovereign God knows all things, and He will deal with that person. Forgiveness releases us from bondage.  If we do not forgive, that person has a vicious hold over us, and we are in bondage. Bitterness keeps us in bondage to the person who has already hurt us.

Many times that person does not even know that we have bitterness toward them, or maybe subconsciously we want revenge (want them to hurt like we hurt), when in reality, it is only hurting us.  If we do not release the bitterness to the Lord, we are saying that we want to deal with that person, and the Lord cannot/will not deal with them “the way they need to be dealt with”.  This is a lack of faith, and in reality rebellion. We must offer that hurt up to the Lord, and He can repay to that person their due better than we ever could.  He will chose His time and place to deal with them.  Our path is to surrender to Him, and be free from bondage.

Remember also…no man lives to himself.  Our bitterness will affect others around us.  Moms …our children will be affected.  It will cloud their minds and hearts to the sweetness and grace of God in their lives.  Sometimes they will take on our bitterness, but if not it will cause anxiety and emotional distress for them.  This is evident in divorce situations that are “nasty”.

Can we ever think that our suffering is for our good and for His glory?  II Corinthians 4:17, says “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”.

What is this “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”?  Becoming more Christ-like in our responses to the “light afflictions” in our life.  It is reflection the glory of the Lord to a greater degree through our suffering.  This is worth any hurt that He allows/brings into our life.  He is our “vision”.

The hymn says,

“Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy Presence my light.”

Then later lines say…

“Thou and Thou only, first in my heart;

High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.”

We sing this hymn, but do we truly mean “whatever befall”?  “Whatever befall” until someone says something that hurts my feelings?  This is not the response of a mature Christian.  Sometimes pride is the underlying sin.  I think I have a right not to be treated that way.  Christ had a right not to be crucified because He was righteous, but He surrendered it to the Father…”Nevertheless, not My will but Thine”.

Hebrews 12:2 says…. “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  We can endure anything if we keep our eyes on “the Joy that is set before us”.  Endure does not mean grudgingly, or “white knuckling” it. Endure is recognizing that He is with us, always present, carrying the “easy yoke” (Matt. 11:28-29) and walking in the fiery furnace and lions den with us always.  Endure has our gaze on the face of our Savior. Endure with faith in his sovereignty, that He has His perfect will working in us, to work His will and reflect His glory.

Elisabeth Elliot put it this way… (referring to Jan 8th 1956):

“When I sat by my short wave radio and learned that my husband was missing, the Lord brought to mind what the prophet Isaiah said …

‘when thou passest through the waters I will be with thee’ “.  This thrust me, forced me, hurried me to God, my only Refuge.”

“Suffering is the irreplaceable medium

through which I learned the indispensable truth that

He is LORD.”  (E. Elliot)

Elisabeth Elliot says…”Think of your pain, trial, troubles as a challis, to be held up and offered up to the Lord, even in the midst of your suffering…stop what you are doing and offer it up as an act of worship……..anything offered up to God  becomes a gateway to joy.”

The results of all this will be:

(1) When you think of the person that hurt you, you will pity them and pray for them (Matt. 5:44), because you have truly forgiven them.  Hopefully you will come to love them.

(2) You will become numb to the “hurt” of the offense, because the bondage is gone.  You released it to the Lord. (Hebr. 13:15)

(3) You can begin to ask the Lord to bring “blessing” into that person’s life (I Peter 3:9b) every time it comes to mind.

(4) Ultimately, you will thank the Lord for the person, the hurt, and the result of that offense, bringing you closer to the Lord in your walk with Him, and the more Christ-like you have become.  You now reflect Him and His glory more than you ever could have without what the LORD brought into your life.  (II Cor. 3:18)

Congratulations, the Lord has just prepared you for your next trial and your next step of faith.  Praise Him.

Jim Elliot quote.

“Seems impossible that I am so near my senior year at this place, and truthfully, it hasn’t the glow about it that I rather expected. There is no such thing as attainment in this life; as soon as one arrives at a long-coveted position he only jacks up his desire another notch or so and looks for higher achievement – a process which is ultimately suspended by the intervention of death. Life is truly likened to a rising vapor, coiling, evanescent, shifting. May the Lord teach us what it means to live in terms of the end.”

“He makes His ministers a flame of fire. Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things.’ Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul – short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God’s house consumed Him. ‘Make me Thy Fuel, Flame of God.’”

“God, I pray thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.”

Reflection:

From an early age, Jim Elliot understood that followers of Christ must view their time on earth with an eternal perspective. Even as a young college student, he realized that life without God was a cycle of meaningless effort – “as soon as one arrives at a long-coveted position he only jacks up his desire another notch or so and looks for higher achievement.” Rather than chase after the world’s fleeting pleasures, Jim Elliot resolved to commit himself to God’s purposes. He followed his convictions into the mission field, and ultimately to his death. In the eyes of the world, Jim Elliot’s life was unremarkable, even tragic – he never achieved any great fame or wealth, he died very young, and he didn’t live to see the fruit of his own missionary work. But from the viewpoint of God’s kingdom, he led a life of extraordinary power and significance. Today, thousands of Christians look to Jim Elliot as a shining example of genuine faith.

Not everyone is called to be a missionary martyr in Ecuador. However, we can all aspire to receive the kind of faith that Jim Elliot had. True faith in Christ is not exclusive to special people at certain times – any person at any age can receive the gift of faith from God. Likewise, a life of faith can take many forms. John 12:26 says: “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” Serving God means following our faith into the places where he calls us to be, including our classrooms and campuses. When we make our relationship with God the first priority, we can receive direction for our lives no matter where we are. God wants us to experience joyful faith in him that is far greater than our old desires for the temporary things of this world.

Response:

“We may often spend a large amount of time praying for our immediate wants and needs. There’s nothing wrong with this – after all, God wants to bless us in every way. But today, focus on praying for a greater sense of God’s direction in your life, including your studies and professional endeavors. Ask for increased faith in God that will inspire you to follow him in the long term. As Scripture says, our Father will honor those who serve him, in this life and into eternity.”

(copied/unknown author)

John Hyde (“Praying Hyde”)

John Hyde was a missionary to India from 1892 to 1911.

Thousands of souls were won to Christ in that time.

His friends that knew him well

knew that his one great characteristic was holiness.

Prayer was his life work, and he was a great soul winner, but his soul-winning was due to his Christ-like character.  Scripture says, “Without holiness not man shall see the Lord.”  We may scripturally say without holiness no man shall be a great soul winner.  Mr. Hyde himself said in substance, “Self must not only be dead but buried out of sight, for the stench  of the unburied self-life will frighten souls away from Jesus”.  He lived the sanctified life.

His life’s desires were:

  • a closer walk with the Lord through prayer
  • live a life of holiness
  • reach the lost at any cost

Hyde discovered the power of intercessory prayer, and the results were staggering.  He proved that prayer was an evangelical force in India: by faith he claimed one soul a day, then two, then four.  Through his intercessory prayer, God was able to work in remarkable ways in conventions, churches, and personal lives.  It is no surprise that he was often called “The Apostle of Prayer”.

A Prayer Written by Elisabeth Elliot:

“Lord, I offer up today…

all that I am, all that I have,

all that I do and all that I suffer,

for it to be yours today, and yours forever.

Give me grace Lord, to do all that I know of your Holy will,

purify my heart,

sanctify my thinking,

correct my desires.

Teach me in all of today’s work … trouble ….and Joy,

to respond with honest praise,

simple trust and

instant obedience.

That my life may be in truth a living sacrifice

…by the power of your Holy Spirit,

and in the Name of your Son Jesus Christ,

my Master and my All.”             AMEN

(Elisabeth Elliot loved the dedication of Bette Stam, a martyred American missionary in China.  Bette was an inspiration to Elisabeth.)

Jim Elliot, Martyred for Jesus Christ in 1956

 The following are excerpts from the Journal of Jim Elliot:

 Introduction:

Psalm 42

11 Chron. 15:8…repair the altar of the Lord;   verse 12:  “seek the Lord…with all your heart…”;  verse 15;  “sought Him with their whole desire”, and “He was found by them.  And the Lord gave them rest…”.

Psalm 57:7   “My heart is fixed”;   verse 11: “Be Thou exhaulted…”

Psalm 63   (Verse 7 …“rejoicing in the shadow of His wings.)

Psalm 37

 Jim Elliot:

Committed myself to God….a sacrifice as Isaac…Accept me…

Anything else….if He should consume it…not laying a hand on it to retrieve it for myself.  If Thou should call me to resign what most I prize, it never was mine. I only yield what was Thine.   Thy will be done.         (Joshua 5 & 6)

Devoted things to God as a burnt offering….

Fix my heart wholly Lord to follow Thee….in no detail to touch what is not mine.

The cross is final.

His withholding has served to intensify my desire for Him.  The hungrier one is, the greater the appreciation for food.  He has given me a hunger for Him.  He Only…. promises water to the thirsty….satiation to the “unsatisfied” (not dissatisfied), filling those famished for righteousness.  He has, by concealing Himself, longings that can only be satisfied when Psalm 17:15 is realized.

He holds us from each other, that He might draw us to Himself. Draw me, Lord.

Isa.8:17

11 Chron.20:12b … “Our eyes are upon Thee.”  I will run after Thee.   I seek His will only…alone.

“Lord, saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame for Thee.”

( “Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.” …Amy Carmichael)

The “rest” of faith…is fact, especially the resurrection of Christ.

 If our faith rests on things we hope God is going to do for us temporarily in this world only, that kind of faith is bound to be shaken.

 Even flowers need to be in the dark…apart from light for a time.

Jim’s Covenant  with God:

….glorify Himself to the uttermost in me …or

….slay me

By His grace I shall not have His second best.

He heard me…a life of sacrificial Sonship.

 He cannot fail me.

Trust Him…He will not lead His child into situations he cannot bear…he becomes our “way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

 I must bear “spirit-fruit” where I am.  Do I expect Him to change this…….?  This is my opportunity designed by a sovereign God for me to bear fruit for Him.

 Conclusion:

 What is it in my life   ….for which I cannot trust Him?   ….for which I am not trusting Him?

(Excerpt from the hymn…. “All for Jesus”)

“Oh, what wonder! How amazing!

 Jesus, glorious King of Kings,

 Deigns to call me His beloved,

 Lets me rest beneath His wings.”        (Excerpt from “All for Jesus”)

Hell

….God has the power to send all to hell;
….Everyone deserves hell;
….God is under no obligation to keep the sinner out of hell.

“Hell is not the choice of God; Hell is the choice of man who rejects God.”

“Religions and/or religious leaders came to make bad men good,

but Jesus Christ came to make dead men …alive.”

Ravi Zacharis

 

 

 

 

 

H. A. Ironside said:

Christ is a substitute for everything, but nothing is a substitute for Christ.

No one who really wants to count for God can afford to play at Christianity.

If lips and life do not agree, the testimony will not amount to much.

Time is given us to use in view of eternity.

No one ever lost out by excessive devotion to Christ.

Christianity is Christ!

The Word Of God

Many years ago, a man named Robert Chapman gave Christians a
powerful reminder of our privilege and responsibility as stewards of  God’s Word.

He wrote, speaking of the Word of God:

“This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation,

the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.

Its doctrines are holy, its precepts binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.

It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, and the soldier’s sword.

It should fill the memory, test the heart, and guide the feet.

Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.

It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who will trifle with its sacred contents.

Christ is its grand subject, our good is its design, and the glory of God is its end.”