Summary: Three things that will bring a bitterness makeover are: stop nursing the injury, focus on the forgiveness of God, and dispel the hurt by returning grace.
A. Let’s start with a question: do we really want an extreme makeover of our lives and hearts?
1. That’s what we have been taking about for the last month in our sermons.
2. We have been learning that the Bible promises that God can help us change.
3. We don’t have to stay the same, we don’t have to stay stuck in our destructive patterns that harm us and others.
4. God is like the loving father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, He waits for us to get up from our mud pit and come home to Him.
5. And when we come to Him, He will run to us.
6. As we have said, He will provide the way, but we must provide the will.
7. Last week we learned that for change to take place we have to think for a change.
8. When we change our thinking, replacing Satan’s lies with God’s truths, then we will experience life change.
B. There was a cute story told in Reader’s Digest about a man who was returning the movies he rented from Blockbuster.
1. As he got out of his car and approached the store, he watched a man being apprehended by Police just outside the Blockbuster.
2. The police jumped on him, cuffed him, and put him in the back of the police car.
3. The customer approached a police officer and asked him what was going on.
4. The officer replied with a serious look and tone: “When Blockbuster says that the movies must be returned on time, they mean it!”
C. The truth of the matter is: it can be frustrating trying to deal with past due matters.
1. Some of us here today have been deeply wounded because someone failed to give us what we were due.
2. Maybe we were due an explanation. Maybe we were due an apology. Or maybe it was respect, or faithfulness, or a promise kept.
3. Perhaps someone owes us something that is way past due.
4. If that is the case, then we are now susceptible to an attitude from an internal terrorist called justifiable resentment.
5. And if we don’t deal with that threat by resisting it and dispelling it, then it will warp our spirits and harden our hearts.
D. For some of us a bitterness makeover is long over due.
1. God wants to help us to be better rather than to be bitter.
2. I can’t say anything to that person who hurt you today, but I can talk to you and I can tell you what God wants you to know.
3. So, here is what God wants us to know: If we want to look and be like Jesus, then we must allow Him to help us mend our resentful hearts.
4. As followers of Jesus we are not responsible for the things that are done to us, but we are responsible for how we respond to them.
5. That’s why Paul wrote to the Ephesians saying, “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 other form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:30-32)
E. There are several reasons that letting go is better than being bitter.
1. First of all, bitterness is a poison that chiefly harms the carrier of it.
2. I’ve chosen the image of a crumbling sandcastle for the background image in today’s powerpoint slides, because it depicts the crumbling effect of bitterness.
3. Bitterness is like an internal cancer or termites that destroy us from within (I didn’t think you would want to look at pictures of cancer cells or termites for the background of the slides).
4. Actress Susan Saint James is the wife of Dick Ebersol, who is the senior advisor of NBC Universal Sports and NBC Olympics.
a. Ebersol was seriously injured when his plane crashed in Colorado over Thanksgiving weekend 2004.
b. Susan and Dick's youngest child, 14-year-old Teddy, died in that crash along with two crew members.
c. Susan appeared on the Today show and had this to say, “I tell my kids, ‘Having resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other guy dies.’ Having resentments now, it's just gonna kill us.”
5. Doctors will tell you that what eats you is more dangerous to your health than what you eat.
6. Dr. Herbert Benson, Head of Mind Body Institute and host of the Harvard Summit said, ”There is a physiology to forgiveness, and when you do not forgive it will chew you up.”
7. Newsweek carried an article by Neil Crouse a researcher from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in which he said, “People who forgive easily tend to enjoy greater psychological wellbeing and have less depression, than people who hold grudges.”