“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
The words “get rid of all bitterness” paint a picture of a surgeon cutting out a malignant growth in order to save the patient’s life. Another translation, “Looking carefully … lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble” (Hebrews 12:15), commands us to be vigilant lest a tiny seed of bitterness becomes a root that springs up and causes problems. Bitterness has many sources: an absentee or abusive parent we can’t forgive; a nasty divorce we keep reliving; the careless words of a friend who’s not even aware of their effect; a boss who passed us up for a promotion. What’s the answer? Forgive, before the problem becomes embedded in your emotions and starts feeding off your memories.
St. Paul writes: “Make a clean break … Forgive one another as quickly … as … Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). And the sooner you do it, the better! Harboring bitterness won’t change the other person, but it will change you — and not for the better. The heaviest thing you’ll ever carry is a grudge. It will make you a misery to be around because your driving desire will be to see the guilty party punished, especially when you or someone you love is the perceived victim.
What happens is this: Satan enters the picture and convinces you it’s okay to harbor resentment. After all, you’re just protecting yourself from getting hurt again, right? When that happens, you dig in, justify your position, and get comfortable living with resentment. That is, until it destroys you. But that doesn’t have to happen to you, because there’s no emotion so deeply rooted that God’s grace can’t reach down and remove it. So the word for today is — “Get rid of all bitterness.”
Heavenly Father, help me get rid of all bitterness that can gnaw and destroy me — please help to renew me and made me whole again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.