Summary: Bitterness is a dangerous thing in the life of the Christian that simply needs to be let go of.
“Let Go Of Bitterness”
In Southeast Asia many years ago someone developed an ingenious method to catch monkeys alive and unharmed. The “Monkey Trap” which was developed was very simple; the hunter would take a pot with a wide bottom and narrow opening and bury the pot in the ground to where the opening of the pot was just above the ground. In the pot the hunter would place pieces of fruit, nuts or meat on skewers. The heat of the day would cause the odor of the treats to attract monkeys to the delectable monkey treats. The monkey smells the treats and reaches down into the narrow opening of the pot to grab hold of the treat, as the monkey attempts to extract the treat from the pot; the monkey finds that their fist full of food will not fit through the narrow opening. The monkey excited and frustrated will scream as he continues to hold on to his food and attempts to remove it from the pot. This is a sign for the hunter to walk over to the monkey and throw a net over to capture it. Even as the monkey sees the hunter approaching instead of letting go of the food the monkey holds on to the food tighter and tries even harder to dislodge it’s arm and fist of food from the pot.
Of course you and I realize that to escape from the monkey hunter, the monkey simply had to let go of the food and it would have easily been able to remove its arm from the pot and run for its freedom! All the monkey had to do was LET GO!
What is it that you are holding onto that is putting you in danger? Over the next few weeks I want to talk about letting go. Some things are hard to let go of. Once you’ve touched an electric fence it’s hard to let go. It is hard for West Virginia fans to let go of a coach that spurned them for the University of Michigan. It’s hard for some people to let go of what they see as priceless junk, we call them “pack rats”. It is hard for some to let go of the past. For me the most difficult thing to let go of is feelings of resentment and bitterness.
In my Christian walk, the concept of forgiveness has been the most difficult concept to accept and put into practice. All my life I have held on to anger and bitterness for things that have happened throughout my life. There is not a person here who has not been deeply wounded by someone else’s actions. Many times those wounds fester and turn into bitterness. If you, like me have ever wrestled with bitterness towards someone then you know how negative of a thing it is and of how it can totally take over your life.
This sermon has been the most difficult sermon for me to prepare, and frankly I don’t want to preach it, but I am compelled to. As I prepare for a sermon of letting go of bitterness I cannot help but to allow memories and thoughts to creep into my head from my past. I said that bitterness has always been a struggle for me, perhaps it would be better said that bitterness has always been easy for me. Even to this day I wrestle with strong feelings of bitterness because of things in my past.
Although, many people in life had much worse childhoods than I had I did not have a rosy childhood. My whole upbringing was full of anger and fighting. I remember times of being filled with such rage towards my mother and father for how they treated me that it would swell. I do not tell you this for sympathy or for pity; my past has made me who I am. My past is not a crutch that I will lean on and use as an excuse for every mistake and character flaw I possess. However, because of my past bitterness has been a big part of my life.
My Dad was in the picture for most of my early childhood, but most of my memories of him are negative. My Dad is a severe alcoholic. I do not remember many days when he was not totally drunk. Now he is paying for some of those decisions as he is in severe condition with cirrhosis of the liver. Often times the alcohol got the best of him and changed his personality. When he would be drunk it would always lead to a fight between him and my mother and often times to violence turned towards me. Of course the longer that took place the more my hatred grew for my father. I honestly got to the point where my life was consumed with hatred for him because of his constant abuse. A few weeks ago I got a call that my Dad was in the hospital. As it turns out he has cirrhosis of the liver. He is literally been drinking himself to death. As I got the news of it many emotions were brought out. I was angry at things he was and things he wasn’t. In twenty-six years of life I never heard my Dad say, “I love you” or “I’m proud of you”. I don’t have any fond memories with him. He never took me hunting or fishing. He never played ball with me. The closest he came to that was when he took me to my baseball games and instead of watching his son and cheering me on, he would leave and get drunk during the game. I was angry that I had none of those memories with my father that many children have. I didn’t know what it was like to have a father who cared. That anger though turned into sorrow. I was sad for him. It is sad to know that someone can live their whole life distancing themselves from others and choose to not be involved in their family’s life. I felt a huge weight upon my heart, and that was the weight of bitterness. I thought I had forgiven him, but I hadn’t.