Bitterness

Susan Blake May 21, 2017

This is the sixth class in the fifth series of classes of the Women’s Foundation series.

This class looks at what the Bible teaches about anger, depression, despair, worry, bitterness, and self-esteem and how to deal with them. 


I. Defining and Describing Bitterness

Bitterness is a dangerous  ____________________ that not only destroys our relationships with others, but affects our relationship with God and even our own physical, mental, and emotional health.

A.  Definitions

         1.  Dictionary Definitions:

  • hard to bear
  • grievous
  • distressful
  • causing pain
  • piercing, stinging
  • characterized by intense antagonism or hostility
  • hard to admit or accept
  • resentful or cynical

2. Biblical definition:

  • an internal, ____________________ -afflicting wound (drinking poison and hoping the other person dies)
  • a  ____________________, unforgiving attitude

B.  Description - Bitterness is the  ____________________ result of unbiblical habits of dealing with hurt.

1.  Bitterness is often described as a  ____________________.  Heb 12:15

Example of the progression of a hurt into bitterness[1]:

Internal Thoughts

Cultivation of Bitterness

“I can’t believe he did that to me!”

Press the seed of hurt into the soil of your heart.

“What a jerk!  He is so self-centered.”

Cover the seed with soil.

“He never admits he’s wrong.  He always makes me clean up these messes.”

You aerate the soil around your little planted seed.

“Why did God give me such a loser for a husband?”

You water the seed.

“He’s such an idiot.”

You fertilize the hurt, and the seed starts to sprout.

“I need to get out of this marriage.  Then I won’t have to deal with this craziness.”

You weed the little sprout, and its roots grow deeper.

“He’s not going to treat me like this.  I’m out of here, and when he realized that he’s lost me he’s going to be as hurt as I am right now.”

You put the finishing touches on a greenhouse that protects your “stinkweed” and you being charging people admission to see it.

 

2.  The “hurt” is not always objective or rooted in  ____________________. 

i.  The “hurt” can be real or imagined.

ii.  The “hurt” can include being sinned against by another person or simply being offended by another person.

3.  Bitterness is described as a “deep, settled  ____________________.”[2] 

C.  Evidence of Bitterness

1. You have a hard time resolving  ____________________, because you are unwilling to forgive the person.

2. You engage in acts of  ____________________ (spiteful comments, backbiting, physical altercations)

3. You  ____________________ from the offender through the “silent treatment” or “cold shoulder.”

4.  You frequently experience  ____________________ of anger. 

5. You employ biting  ____________________ in your interactions. 

6.  Condescension and  ____________________ frequently describe your communication, since you have allowed a pattern of suspicion and distrust to build in your heart. 


7. You operate in an  ____________________ way toward the offender, becoming hypersensitive to future perceived hurts.  You are very impatient toward the offender.

8. A rising level of  ____________________ in general, especially if the offender is an authority, leads to an overall spirit of rebellion and misuse of authority.

9.  You spend a significant amount of time  ____________________ the details of the offense. 

10.  Because of the significant investment of emotional energy needed in order to maintain the grudge, the hurt person is probably suffering  ____________________ and exhaustion.

11.  The offended person is probably doubting their  ____________________. Matt 6:12, 14-15

II. Biblical forgiveness is the key to dealing with hurts. Luke 17:3-10

A. Forgiveness is granted only when someone  ____________________ against you. Matt 7:4-5

B. Sometimes the offended person is the one who has to  ____________________ forgiveness (even though this will feel awkward.)   Prov 19:11, I Peter 4:8, Luke 17:3

C. Sometimes the person who sinned against you may come to you and seek forgiveness. Matt 5:23-24  

D.  Forgiveness is  ____________________. 

E.  Forgiveness in not an emotion, but rather it is a  ____________________.  Luke 17:4

F.  Forgiveness is not the same thing as  ____________________.

G.  We are able to forgive others when we remember the great  ____________________ that we have been forgiven by God. Rom 3:23

H.  We are able to forgive when we focus on God’s  ____________________ even over the sinful choices of others. Gen 42:21, Gen 50:20

I.  There may be times when the offender will not or is not able to properly take care of his sin against you. 

III. Using the Gospel to Kill Bitterness

A.  Jesus is the perfect  ____________________ of responding to harsh treatment without growing bitter.  Isaiah 53:3, 6, Luke 23:34
 

B.  The gospel reminds us of how much we ourselves have been forgiven by God and is our  ____________________ for forgiving others.  Matthew 18:21-35

C.  Our own constant need for ongoing forgiveness as Christians motivates us to be  ____________________ to forgive when others repetitively sin against us. Matthew 18:21-22

D.  We must be ready to  ____________________ God’s grace and mercy with us when we have opportunities to forgive others. Heb 4:16, Micah 6:8

E.  We must fight temptation to take over God’s role as  ____________________.  James 4:12, Romans 12:19,  Romans 14:9-10

F.  When we are able to see that the offender is caught in sin and is  ____________________ and enslaved it is easier to have the compassion necessary to forgive. John 8:34, Prov 5:22

G.  Reminding ourselves of our own  ____________________ will help to keep us from sinning in ways that are like the person who sinned against us.   Heb 3:12-13, Prov 16:18, I Cor 10:12

IV. Learning How To Overcome Evil With Good Rom 12:17-21

A. The “enemy” is  ____________________, not the person who offended and hurt you. 

B. We are commanded to win the battle and secure victory against evil. 

C. We are told to return a  ____________________ for a cursing.   I Thess 5:15 another and for all people.

D. We will need to  ____________________ ahead to bless those who hurt us.  Rom 12:18

Recommended Resources

Jones, Robert D. Freedom From Resentment: Stopping Hurts From Turning Bitter. Greensboro, NC:  New Growth Press, 2010

Priolo, Lour. Bitterness: The Root That Pollutes. Philipsburg, NJ:  P&R Publishing, 2008

 

[1] Adapted from Bitterness: The Root That Pollutes by Lou Priolo, page 8.

[2] Freedom From Resentment: Stopping Hurts From Turning Bitter by Robert D. Jones, page 5

Susan Blake

Susan teaches parenting and home schooling classes at Faith Church. She is a ACBC certified counselor at FBCM, and is a mother of five.