Bitterness: The Poison Of The Soul

Today My Soul is Cleansed of Hurt and BittnernessHEBREWS 12:15 “BITTERNESS: THE POISON OF THE SOUL”

A) Bitterness is the most dangerous of all attitudes to healthy Christian living!
* It will eat away the vitality of your spiritual life until your testimony is in shambles.
* Bitterness is the cancer of the soul, claiming millions of victims every year.
* It spreads faster than the common cold and, if unchecked, will destroy families and churches.

B) Let me give you a private test?
* Name the three persons who have hurt you most … Name the three persons whose company you
enjoy least … Name the three persons you would most enjoy watching fail in life.
* Name someone you just can’t stand or someone you wish ill against?
* The wrong answers to these questions may mean that you are a bitter person.
* The Bible warns us “Looking diligently (or beware) lest any man fail of (or fall from) the grace
of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”

C) The problem with bitterness is that you can’t hide it, nor contain it!
* It spreads like a plague until it affects everyone around you.
* Some of you may be so bitter that you can’t talk about your husband or wife …….
* Parents or children, friends or relatives, pastor or church without expressing bitterness about how
much they’ve hurt you.

D) The reality is that life is full of hurts!
* Jesus Himself warned in Luke 17:1 “It is impossible but that offences will come:”
* Life is full of hurts and it always will be!
* As long as you live, people are going to hurt you, offend you and disappoint you … But you
don’t need to be the victim of their offenses …….
* You can learn to rise above life’s disappointments.

E) Now let’s read Ephesians 4:25-32 ……. How to know if you are bitter!
* No one wants to admit they are bitter … Sometimes everyone else can tell but us!
* Let me give you another test … Let me ask you to be honest with yourself and answer a few
basic questions … Here they are:
* Does it irritate you when people don’t agree with you? … Do you think you are usually right and
others are usually wrong? … Do you find yourself giving more criticisms than compliments?
* Are you short with people? … Do you ask people “loaded” questions just to irritate them?

F) Is it difficult to talk to someone who has hurt you in the past without constantly bringing it up
again? … Do your conversations tend to turn into arguments?
* Do you feel disappointed, mistreated or betrayed? … Do you feel like God has let you down?
* Do these kind of questions make you defensive?
* Several yes answers may mean that you are probably bitter!

G) In Eph. 4:25-32, the Apostle Paul gives us five keys to overcoming bitterness …….

(1) STOP LYING AND START TELLING THE TRUTH – V.25!

A) When someone is upset, another will ask, “What’s the matter?”
* And usually the explosive response will come, “Nothing!”
* What that answer really means is, “Go away, I don’t want to talk about it.”
* Honest communication depends on honest conversation.
* Telling the truth builds bridges … Lying builds barriers.
* When people see you’re not being honest with them, they’ll stop talking to you.

(2) STOP HATING AND START LOVING – V.26-27!

A) In this passage we are warned not to stay angry, because anger destroys communication!
* Anger will lead either to aggressive or depressive behavior … It causes us to strike out at others
or to put down ourselves.
* Either way, its destructive force hurts us and those with whom we are angry.

(3) STOP STEALING AND START GIVING – V.28!

A) Stealers are takers, and selfish by nature!
* The Apostle Paul reminds us that we need to stop stealing and develop the grace of giving.
* In marriage, some people are takers by nature.
* They never learn to give, and their marriage collapses.
* Selfish people destroy communication … Unselfish people build communication by building
bridges to each other with gifts of kindness.

B) In personal relationships, ask yourself, “Am I a giver or a taker?”
* Givers tend to see the worth and importance of other people and therefore are apt to bring out
the best in others.
* Takers, on the other hand, tend to see the world solely from their own standpoint.
* They provoke others to evade, repress, or deny their innermost feelings.

(4) STOP CUTTING PEOPLE DOWN AND START BUILDING UP – V.29-30!

A) Some people excel at cutting down everything and everybody!
* This passage warns that such negative communication grieves the Spirit of God!

(5) STOP OVERREACTING AND START ACTING LIKE A CHRISTIAN – V.31-32!

A) Here the great apostle warns us not to handle our problems like pagans!
* Don’t blow up … That only makes things worse!

B) Notice the chain reaction in v.31 …….
* We start with bitterness, which soon leads to wrath and anger.
* That, in turn, leads to clamor (two or more people yelling at each other), which takes us on to evil
speaking (literally blasphemy or slander) …….
* And finally to malice (a deliberate attempt to do someone bodily injury).

C) Such behavior is not of God!
* It’s a worldly response to problems, yes … But not the Christian response.
* Such overreactions drive people away from us and destroy communication.

(6) STOP RETALIATING AND START FORGIVING – V.32!

A) Turn to Matt. 18:21-35 and notice the parable of the unforgiving servant!
* Though forgiven a $10,000 talent debt (equivalent to $10 million), he vindictively held a 100
pence debt (less than $1) against his fellow servant and came under the wrath of judgment.

B) True Christians are known by their forgiving spirit!
* Our Lord further told His disciples that if someone offended them seven times a day and repented
each time, they should forgive him.
* To which the apostles said, “Lord, increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5)

C) Selfish and insecure people get angry quickly!
* Selfish and insecure people are easily offended.
* They often try to compensate for this by trying to make people think they are more important
than anyone else.

D) They can never figure out why God’s world does not revolve around them and their plans,
therefore, they suppose that God doesn’t really care for them!
* They become easily upset when things do not go their way.
* They never see themselves as God actually sees them.

E) In order to learn to forgive others effectively, we must ultimately see ourselves for what we
really are … Unprofitable servants, yet unconditionally loved by God!
* Only then are we in a proper position for God to work in our lives.

F) Let me talk to you for a moment as a pastor!
* One of the challenges of a ministry like ours is that everybody can’t have their own way.
* It’s easy for people to get hurt because they didn’t get asked to sing or speak.
* Someone else got the position or the promotion that you wanted.
* Maybe, you can’t help being hurt, but that is no excuse for becoming bitter … That’s your fault!

G) Forgiveness is the key!
* In our selfishness, we muster a host of excuses for not forgiving.  * These include:
* Revenge (I enjoy hating him) … Anger (I’m too upset to forgive)
* Jealousy (I can’t let him do this) … Fear (I’ll be hurt again)

H) Pride (I was right; he was wrong) … Emotion (I don’t feel like forgiving)
* Self-righteousness (He doesn’t deserve it) … Guilt (I can’t even forgive myself)
* Suffering (I’m just too hurt to forgive) … Worry (What if he doesn’t understand?)

I) The ultimate excuse is, “I can’t forgive,” … Which really means I won’t forgive!
* You can do anything that is right … God always empowers us to do what’s right.
* His grace is always sufficient, no matter how difficult the task.

J) Let me give you this, and I’m done …….

(7) RELEASE THE POWER OF GOD IN YOUR LIFE!

A) The Scripture clearly states that wrong attitudes grieve the Holy Spirit and hamper God’s
work in our lives … Therefore, we are told in v.31-32 …….

B) Often we fail to see our own responsibility in dealing with bitterness!
* We must put away all wrong feelings that stem from bitterness.
* The chain reaction of bitterness eventually leads to open and public conflict, which hurts others
and damages the cause of Christ.

C) We must learn to forgive others just as completely and totally as God has forgiven us!
* The powerful, positive principle of forgiveness will unlock your embittered spirit and set the
power of God free in your soul.
* It will make you kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving … It will make you Christ-like!

D) Jesus died for your sins so that you could be forgiven!
* If you don’t know Him as your Savior, you can come to Him right now.
* If you know Christ as your Savior, but you have let your hurt turn to bitterness, ask God to
forgive you and set you free!

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