Bitterness

pouting boyBitterness does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than the vessel on which it is poured. Unknown

Last month I began Jennifer Rothschild’s Bible study, Amos An Invitation to the Good Life at church. Through the coming weeks, I’ll mention thoughts gained from the study. Today I’d like us to consider what the study said about bitterness.

In the first chapter of Amos, the prophet announced God’s judgement on Israel’s surrounding nations. Edom was one of those nations.

The Edomites descended from Jacob’s brother, Esau. If we remember these brothers’ story from the book of Genesis, there was a lot of bitterness between the two. So much so, Jacob went to a foreign land to get away from his brother’s anger.

Things weren’t resolved once the two men died, either. Nope. Bitterness continued for generations. Over 430 years actually. The Edomites still brooded when they refused to grant the Israelites permission to pass through their land on the way out of Egypt.

The Edomites fought against King Solomon. They opposed King Jehoshaphat. Even Psalm 83 asks God to destroy them.

In the book of Obadiah, the Edomites rejoiced over their brothers, the Israelites’, hardship. Instead of offering help, they did a happy dance.

In the book of Amos, the Edomites are mentioned as a nation that will face God’s wrath for their unbrotherly acts.

As we consider the story of Edom, we may feel they deserve punishment for their bitterness, anger, and hate. But what about us? Are we holding onto bitterness, anger, and hate toward someone? Maybe a couple of someones?

Are we holding bitterness toward a family member, a former friend, a co-worker, fellow church member, neighbor? The list could go on, but you get the idea.

If we had an opportunity to assist the one we’re angry with in some way, would we? Or would we respond just like the Edomites, and say no?

Do we sympathize and offer encouragement when someone we hold a grudge against suffers, or do we gloat just like the Edomites did?

In Jennifer’s lesson she made this statement, which she followed with several questions.

Choosing unforgiveness and holding onto hate or bitterness against someone who sinned against me is wrong. It is just as wrong as the sin perpetrated on me. I am like Edom when I choose to hold onto bitterness and withhold sisterly love. How does that hit you?

Here are questions Jennifer asks us to consider.

Am I holding onto hate or bitterness toward someone who has wronged me?

Is it right for me to hold onto that wrong?

How does it hurt me to hold onto bitterness?

Here are scriptures she offered for reflection in relation to the above questions:

  • Mark 11:25
  • Romans 12:10
  • Ephesians 4:32
  • Hebrew 12:15
  • 1 Peter 3:8

As someone said, bitterness is like vinegar. When we hold onto that bitterness and don’t let it go, it harms us more than it harms the person we hold bitterness against.

Let’s determine to keep the root of bitterness from growing, and as much as it depends on us, live at peace. Amen?

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 Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives. Hebrews 12:15 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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