Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017


“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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.” (Eph. 4:30-32)

Bitterness, although not a physical sickness, is probably the most debilitating, enervating disease in existence. It continually saps the joy from life like a parasite draining blood from an otherwise normal organism.

To aid in the diagnosis of this disease, let me tell you some of its symptoms.

Bitter people normally use the word “bitter” either in defense or admission when the tender area is brought to their attention. A person says, “I’m not bitter!” or perhaps “Of course I’m bitter!” The non-bitter person doesn’t usually use the word.

Bitterness remembers details with great clarity. You have probably had thousands of conversations with people, most of which you have now forgotten. But there is one conversation that occurred several years ago, every word of which you remember with strong displeasure. Memories such as this are symptomatic of bitterness.

Physical illness may also be a symptom of bitterness. Although it is a disease of the soul and not of the body, bitterness can cause physical sickness if kept inside.

Bitterness is always accusatory, whether or not it is ever verbally expressed. It always bases itself upon someone else’s wrong, whether that wrong is real or imagined. Bitterness starts as a resentment that is permitted and prolonged rather than dealt with (1 John 1:8-9). Soon the resentment begins to turn rancid. Slowly it matures, putting down roots into the mind and soul of its host until finally what began as resentment has grown into bitterness. Normally it is felt toward people closest to you, e.g., your husband, wife, brother, sister, parents, roommate, even perhaps your own children. Often it is a major cause of other kinds of sin, including gossip and murder.

The most insidious aspect of bitterness is its ability to disguise itself. It hides inside and grows like a malignant cancer sending down roots that sap all joy out of the life of the one whose joy should be full. The one who is bitter may not even be aware of it. It is for this reason that I am submitting these thoughts to you.

Bitterness—like lying, stealing, or murder—is a sin which needs to be forgiven and can and will be forgiven by God when confessed to Him. The difficulty is in admitting a wrong that you think is someone else’s wrong. Bitterness must be confessed as if you are the only one at fault. It must be brought to the cross, to the Savior, where the punishment due it was endured and paid for in full. If the bitterness comes back after confession, confess it again and again and again until it does not come back again. And you will find the joy He promised restored.

If you would like to read more on this subject, you can download a free copy of How to Be Free from Bitterness here.

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