The Cure for Bitterness

“Love is not…resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

A Christian may struggle with tough questions without sinking into deep-seated bitterness. But once bitterness gets a foothold, it’s hard to remove it. Bitterness does not usually take hold of a person overnight. It chips away and tries to make its case over time. It then makes a closing argument and finally tempts us to resentment. Once we resent something, or someone, we refuse to see any good in them at all. Everything they do falls short, and we attribute even good things they do to selfish motives. Bitterness clouds both our vision and judgment. But we cannot harbor bitterness and love at the same time.

Fortunately, God grants us relief from bitterness and resentment by pointing us to “a better way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). The better way leads us back to our foundations, we need to love as Jesus loves. Love carries a power unknown to the world. For example, love drives our fear:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

In fact, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). This means it prevents sins, forgives sins, and leads us to act like Jesus would. It wields a power that knows no equal. God pours out His love into our hearts at salvation (Romans 5:5), and throughout life God wants us to love more and more (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10). God wants us “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).

We need this power to neutralize the venomous power of bitterness that snaps at our feet and would love to lodge in our hearts. No wonder we’re commanded to keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21). When God fills our hearts with His love, we abound in compassion, not resentment (Colossians 3:12).

When tempted to resent or lash out, remember our calling as pilgrims in a strange place. Then recall the example of Christ, who “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return” (1 Peter 2:23). God will soften our hearts, and lead us to wait on Him. One day, sooner or later, God will right the wrongs we suffer in this life. But we leave the timing with Him. Until then, let’s ponder this verse:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

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