Summary: What is bitterness? Where does it come from? What should Christians do about bitterness. Paul tells us.
"Put Away Bitterness"
Intro: Recently I was pulling out of a parking space in Leah’s DoodleBug. I was beside a bus so I had to pull half way out to see is anything was coming. A car was driving down the lane, far too fast and had to swerve to miss me. I signaled my apology but the passenger rolled down the window, hung half way out, so she could point her finger at me and scream vulgarities.
Have you noticed people are becoming increasingly bitter? And perhaps there is no other venue in which they express that their bitterness as easily as in driving. Road rage is real and growing.
Today I want to address BITTERNESS, which our text says is "to be put away from you".
Have you ever known someone who was BITTER?
Maybe BITTER at GOD ... blaming God for the bad things that has happened to them.
Maybe BITTER at a MATE ... blaming them for what they had done to them... perhaps ending a marriage in divorce ... bitter at a PARENT ... a CHILD
Maybe BITTER at an EMPLOYER ... because they didn't get the promotion they thought they deserved.
Maybe YOU are bitter ... maybe you know someone who is ... maybe you are on the RECEIVING end of BITTERNESS.
Let's take a look and see what BITTERNESS really is.
1. WHAT MAKES A PERSON BITTER?
Answer: Perceived Sin
When we THINK someone has sinned against us, we get angry ... which can turn to bitterness.
We wait for an APOLOGY ... if it doesn't come ... we become BITTER against that person.
Bitterness is not anger! Anger is an emotion; bitterness is a spirit.
Emotions come and go; a spirit stays ... it moves in and brings its furniture with it.
Bitterness is an evil spirit that moves in and kicks the sweet, gentle spirit to the curb.
The sweet spirit had its house, your heart and mind, decorated with furniture like kindness, good works, forgiveness, mercy and peace.
But bitterness kicks sweet spirit out and throws out the furniture too. Then it brings in furniture like spite, envy, jealousy, spiteful words, spiteful deeds.
And your heart and mind are a mess.
In that state, you can not
Receive things from the Holy Spirit
Live a life that pleases God
Grow in service
And this spirit of bitterness has spread like a cancer through our society.
We have come to where we think it is our right to be bitter.
If someone pulls out in front of me, and I have to tap my brakes ... I have the right to blast them with the horn.
If someone turns into my lane and I think it was too quick ... I have the right to shoot them the bird.
If our kid doesn't make the team or the squad; we have a god-given right to use profanity.
Most drivers see the horn as something they are to use to punish other drivers for their stupidity.
Where does this anger and bitterness come from?
Why did we not see it until the 90's?
We got angry .... But society was not a BITTER.
Experts tell us this societal bitterness comes from frustration over loss of control.
Government, courts, employers and everyone else are taking away our power and our ability to make choices. That creates anger and nowhere to put it, so
we become bitter.
I think that is hogwash. We have more free time and more freedoms today than our parents.
What has happened is that we have become increasingly un-Christian and un-churched.
Without that spiritual life and spiritual strength, we have lost the ability to deal with anger in the right way.
That anger has seethed and festered underneath the surface and become BITTERNESS ... a spirit, a life-style, a mindset.
With that bitterness festering underneath, and no Spiritual inhibitors ... our emotions are like a powder keg, or load of nitro glycerin ... unstable and ready to blow at the least little thing.
And because "What one generation does in moderation; the next does to excess" the moral inhibition against such shows of anger have been removed and we are moving more and more in the direction of explosion.
So ... what does that have to do with church, God and a sermon?
What can we do about bitterness?
1. UNDERSTAND WHERE IT COMES FROM.
What causes it? PERCEIVED WRONG!!
When we think someone has wronged us we get angry. If we can't do something with the anger, it grows to become bitterness.
2. KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
How can you tell if someone is BITTER? Bitterness remembers details!
Most of what you have done, or what was done to you, you have forgotten a long time ago ... you don't remember details of most events. BUT ... when you