Summary: Let’s be honest: sometimes people hurt us. We get put down, run down, and trampled on. And it becomes easy to want to get revenge. And it’s even easier to become bitter. But bitterness is a disease. And if we’re not careful, this disease of bitternes
The Remedy for Bitterness
“Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it”
Harry Emerson Fosdick
(American clergyman 1878-1969)
Key Scripture: Romans 12:14-21
Icebreaker: During the Korean war a certain military unit had hired a local boy to cook and clean for them. Being a bunch of jokesters, these guys soon took advantage of the boy’s seeming naiveté’. They’d smear Vaseline on the stove handles so that when he’d turn the stove on in the morning he’d get grease all over his fingers. They’d put little water buckets over the door so he’d get soaked when he opened the door They’d even nail his shoes to the floor during the night. Day after day the young Korean took the brunt of their practical jokes without saying anything. There was no blame, no self-pity, no temper tantrums. Finally the men felt guilty about what they were doing, so they sat down with the boy and said, “Look, we know these pranks aren’t funny for you, and we’re sorry. We’re never going to take advantage of you again.” It seemed too good to be true to the houseboy.” No more sticky on stove?” he asked. “Nope.” “No more water on door.” “No.” “No more nail shoes to floor?” “Nope, never again.” “Okay” the boy said with a smile, “no more spit in soup.”
(Jeff Strite, sermoncentral.com)
Intro: Let’s be honest: sometimes people hurt us. We get put down, run down, and trampled on. And it becomes easy to want to get revenge. And it’s even easier to become bitter. But bitterness is a disease. And if we’re not careful, this disease of bitterness will creep into our hearts and ruin our lives.
-Someone said, "The more I get to know the human race, the more I love my dog." Dogs are loyal, dependable, eager to please, and quick to forgive and forget. Don’t you wish people were more like that? But sometimes no matter how hard we try to have a good relationship with someone, it doesn’t work.
-Hey, you know what? People are going to hurt you. And when people hurt us, we can respond one of two ways:
1. Get bitter.
2. Get better.
Scripture: Romans 12:14-21
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"[d]says the Lord. 20On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."[e] 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
-I want us to talk today about how to keep bitterness from ruining your life.
How to Keep Bitterness from Ruining Your Life
-Bitterness doesn’t have to control you. Paul talks about the remedy for bitterness in those verses we read just a moment ago. The remedy is a counter-cultural command that raises us to a new level of living.
1. Bless those who hurt you. (vs. 14)
Statement: The first thing you can do to keep bitterness from ruining your life is bless those who hurt you.
Scripture: Romans 12:14
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
-Now, of course, Paul wrote this to Christians who suffered sever persecution that we can’t even imagine going through ourselves. But the same principle applies for us when people hurt us.
A. Never stop praying for them.
-Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. Why? Because it’s hard to hate somebody and be nasty towards somebody you are praying FOR. And Jesus never said, “Pray ABOUT your enemies…” If I pray ABOUT my enemies, I’ll probably end up complaining about them…. Or worse, I’ll pray for God to destroy them. But Jesus said “Pray FOR your enemies…”
It’s very hard to pray FOR people who you dislike… very hard
BUT IT’S EVEN HARDER to pray FOR someone you don’t like…and then turn around and spit in their soup.
-You see – when you do this kind of prayer to God - when you pray FOR your enemies - it changes your heart. It frees you up from the bondage of your anger. And it frees you to serve God in a way that really honors Him.
B. Never stop forgiving them.
-This is hard, but Christ followers are called to something higher. Disciples of Jesus are to live at a higher standard than the rest of the world. Forgiveness is very, very hard for humans to do on their own. There are reasons not to forgive. To forgive means to absorb the pain of an offense. It means taking that pain which is insulated a little by the anger and bitterness that the pain caused, and acquitting the offense that is the cause of the pain, exposing it to the light of grace. Unmerited, perhaps undeserved, favor.