“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” — Hebrews 12:15, NIV
As human beings living in the world, we struggle with sin. There are many sins and not everyone struggles with the same sin. For some people, having an attitude of bitterness and resentment is a strong temptation. What is bitterness and resentment and how do we, as Christians, overcome it?
What Is Bitterness?
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” — Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV
Bitterness and resentment relate to anger. When we let anger at others or frustration at our situation fester and build up in our hearts, we can begin to develop bitterness and resentment. Often bitterness takes root when we are hurt by others or we think a situation we are put in is unjust or unfair. Bitterness starts when we cling to anger and resentment and start holding a grudge.
Instead of responding with forgiveness or love, we may let our negative emotions grow and treat others with passive-aggressive behavior, hostility or disdain. The Bible tells us to “get rid of all bitterness.” When we notice that we are beginning to hold onto bitterness, we are called to fight against anger and bitterness and choose to forgive.
Fighting Against Bitterness and Resentment
“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” — Colossians 3:8, NIV
Fighting against bitterness and resentment is no easy feat. After all, bitterness is often a result of hurtful events. At times, we may not even realize we are becoming bitter as it can sneak up on us as we are too lost in our own feelings to notice.
Sometimes the offending person may have purposely hurt us leading us to feel bitter and refusing to forgive. Other times, the person who hurt us may be oblivious to what is happening but notices the change in our behavior toward them.
As with all the struggles we may face, prayer is a good foundation for fighting against our sin. On our own we fall short, but with God’s help we can deal with our sin.
Fighting bitterness often means we have to let go. Perhaps, we must forgive others for wrongs committed against us, or stop feeling sorry for ourselves or our situation. We may have to let go of grudges or wrongs that we have held tightly.
Because bitterness often relates to strong and passionate feelings, at times we may have to take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective. We may have to let go of our pride and humble ourselves and admit we were wrong.
Choose to Forgive
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” — Ephesians 1:7, NIV
Fortunately for us, God is forgiving. When we do mess up and harbor bitterness or resentment, we can come to God and seek forgiveness. We should also repent and fight against our bitterness and resentment. It may not happen overnight, but we can overcome bitterness with the help of Christ.
Are you interested in earning a theology or ministry degree? Grand Canyon University’s College of Theology offers degree programs that help you grow your knowledge. If you would like to learn more about GCU, click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.