Summary: One more message inspired by "Why Churches Die" by Dr. Caner and Dr. Brunson
#7 – The Toxin of Bitterness (Jealousy)
* Most of us (that is, NORMAL people) are afraid of snakes. The reason a person’s first reactions to a snake is generally fear has a Biblical and practical reason. The Biblical reason is born in Genesis when God put enmity because the snake and woman & her descendants (that would be us). The practical reason has to do with snake bites and their venom.
* Different snakes possess different kinds of venoms, cytotoxin, hemotoxin, and neurotoxin. The Cytotoxin has a localized action at the site of the bite. The hemotoxin affects the heart and cardiovascular system while the neurotoxin impacts the nervous system and the brain. A poisonous snake bite is always a serious matter and should be treated as such because whatever kind of venom the snake has, he injects it into your bloodstream where the toxin has the ability to reach every part of your body.
* For the last 7 weeks we have been looking at diseases and conditions which afflict God’s people and church. Tonight let’s consider a toxin, which can get in the bloodstream of a church fellowship to very quickly destroy what it has taken a long time to develop. Please turn to Hebrews 12.
* Did you get that? “See to it that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it (the bitterness), defiling many.”
* You ready for a story? I read this so you don’t think I’m making it up (Page 93-95 – Why Churches Die) Bitterness is indeed a serious thing. It is a poison, a deadly toxin, and probably could be classified as a compound toxin as it affects like all three of the toxins I’ve mentioned.
* It may not be over potato salad, it might be the color of the carpet, over a pew, a parking space, a Sunday school room, or any of 100’s of other equally unimportant issues. But it seems that today (inside the church family) that many have been hurt and may carry this root deep inside.
1) THE CAUSE – What could cause a person who knows the goodness of God to become bitter? I’ll suggest that bitterness grows out of 2 seeds; jealousy and vengeance. Consider the truth that bitterness from jealousy grows out of a deeply hardened heart. The jealous person believes others to be more blessed than him. They feel abandoned and overlooked by God. Others have received what SHOULD HAVE been theirs. Even though this attitude violates the commandment which says, “Don’t covet”, they are willing to harbor that feeling and let it grow. Consider these; a friend gets the car you’re really wanting. Can you rejoice for him? If your friend gets the job that you wanted? What do you feel? (Not say, but feel). If you have a friend who seems to get weekly answers to prayer and you don’t, what does it do in you? How about this; what if it’s not a friend, what if it’s someone you don’t like and good things happen to them? That small reservation, feeling, & sensation is the “root of bitterness”.
2) The Characteristics – Bitterness is progressive. Watch the progression: it begins with either a hurt (vengeance) or jealousy (covetousness) and progresses to Bitterness. The bible tells us that bitterness is a root and roots, by nature, reach far and wide and deep. It is the root system below ground which controls the kind of bush and fruit above ground. You cannot have good fruit without a good root and the root of bitterness makes everything unpalatable. Think about it this way; when you drink ice tea you might be one who squeezes a little lemon in the glass. In the same way a little leaven impacts the entire loaf so does a little lemon impact the entire container of tea. If not all of it, almost every drop will now possess the aftertaste of the lemon. When bitterness takes root in a life, it affects everything which touches that life. It’s like taking a gallon of spoiled milk from the refrigerator and trying to get a good glass of milk from the container, it just doesn’t happen. Bitterness is a spreading toxin. And Bitterness gives birth to cynicism. After remaining bitter for years (over something which you can’t remember), you progress into a cynical person.
3) The Costs – To make this simple, just consider 3 ways it impacts you. First, it affects your inlook, that is, who you really are. Several things are likely to happen; first will be that thought that God has abandoned you. You’ll pray but you’ll have difficulty hearing HIS voice. Next, you might begin to think no one else cares about you, so you’ll respond by either becoming an extravert or an introvert. Either way, it will be to overcome what you feel is some deficiency and yet, cannot seem to put your finger on it. The deepest pit for looking inside is to have a “godlike” complex (I’m right and everyone else’s is missing it). It also affects your outlook, this means you may think no one likes or cares about you, but now you don’t really care if they care. Generally, this is a defense mechanism which screams of an unforgiving heart. That initial hurt or insult is just too huge to turn loose of and so it eats at you and your relationship. When we refuse to forgive, it hurts no one but ourselves and it pulls us into a cycle of hurt, hate, heart break, bitterness, and cynicism. It also affects your uplook. With all this going on in your soul, spiritual growth will be dwarfed; walking in the spirit will only become wishful thinking. Hearing from God will be in the past.