Perhaps, the aftermath of a church fuss brings no greater evil than the bitterness in the hearts of some of those involved. Often times it matters not whether a brother was contending for the right or the wrong, he lets Satan fill his heart with bitterness against his foes. As long as this condition exists reconciliation is impossible.
Bitterness is a cancer of the soul, which eats away all that is high and holy. Paul admonished the Ephesians: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:31,32). When one has been deeply hurt, if he broods over it long, he is apt to become embittered. Some times his bitterness extends beyond the one who injured him, to society as a whole. This is a worse sin than the injury he received. Therefore, Paul said, “Let all bitterness...be put away from you.”
Bitterness is one of the hazards which we have to guard against while engaging in a hard battle for the truth. Especially is this true when the struggle is within the church. As lon as brethren bring in their innovations, or insist on living in sin, these battles have to be fought. But when we are slandered, persecuted, and mistreated because we stood for that which is right, we must not allow ourselves to become bitter against anyone. Bitterness is so deceitful it is often mistaken by its victim for zeal for the truth. It has a way of making its victim think he is contending for the faith, when in actuality he is slandering his brother for whom Christ died. Just mention his opponent’s name, and the one possessed with bitterness will spray you with a deluge of verbal venom.
Bitterness will cause one to lie; (Rom. 3:13,14); it will even cause one to lie against the truth according to Jas. 3:14. Why? Because the one possessed with bitterness cannot see the truth in all of its beauty for he looks at it through jaundiced eyes.
Many great men, preachers of power, and faithful saints of God have been destroyed because they let Satan fill thier hearts with bitterness, and they refused to put it away as the Scripture instructed them to do. Asa, a great king, let bitterness mar an almost perfect life. (2 Chron. 16:12). Don’t let this happen to you; I must guard against it too.
Bitterness can be put away. God doesn’t require the impossible of His children. Jesus said: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44). The man who does this will put away all bitterness, for it cannot live in a heart that is filled with love.
Walter N. Henderson in Reminders.
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