Ephesians 4:30-32 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
According to our passage, no believer has a “right” to be bitter. We are told that we are to release “all bitterness,” and that it is to be completely put away (removed) from us. This requires action on our part.
We must release the bitterness because if we don’t, it will never release us. (Often, what we do with our bitterness is only cut the tip of the weed off, but unless it is rooted out, we will never be free from it.)
One reason we refuse to release bitterness towards others is because we think it is our right. We justify within our hearts that because somebody hurt us, we have the right to allow the anger to fester within our hearts – not fully understanding that it is destroying us from the inside and will eventually prey on those around us.
One day, two men were walking through the countryside. They were on their way to another village. As they walked, they spied an old woman sitting at the edge of a river. She was upset because there was no bridge, and she could not get across on her own. The first man kindly offered, “We will carry you across if you would like.” “Thank you,” she said gratefully, accepting their help. So the two men joined hands, lifted her between them and carried her across the river. When they got to the other side, they set her down and they all went on their way.
After they had walked another mile or so, the second man began to complain. “Look at my clothes,” he said. “They are filthy from carrying that woman across the river. And my back still hurts from lifting her. I can feel it getting stiff.” The first man just smiled and nodded his head.
A few more miles up the road, the second man griped again, “My back is hurting me so badly, and it is all because we had to carry that silly woman across the river! I cannot go any farther because of the pain! Are you not hurting as well, my friend?” he asked.
To which the first man replied, “Your back hurts because you are still carrying the woman. But I set her down five miles ago.”
Bitterness and anger does seem to appease our flesh at the start, especially when we think we are “getting back at our offender,” but as the story illustrates, the longer we choose to hold on to our problems, the more hurt and pain we are only causing ourselves.
The decision to “press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of Christ Jesus,” “forgetting the past” is ours to make, or we can hold onto in many cases what was meant to only last temporary, and allow that hurt to linger far longer.
Let’s remember to treat others as we would want to be treated. After all, we reap what we sow. What if the bitterness we choose to harbor in our hearts towards others because of their mistakes, was the same bitterness that is shown toward us because of our mistakes?
It’s far better for your sake to release all bitterness. It’s just not worth it to hang onto it.
If I have one regret, it is that I should have done more. Go out there and spend time with your children.
What are we pursuing? Where do our passions lie? What are we living for?