I have been preaching through the book of Ephesians for about three years, on and off. I am currently at the end of chapter four right now and am to preach on bitterness tonight. Since this is an affliction that affects so many people, and by extension, so many churches, I thought I would share the portion of my sermon tonight that deals with bitterness. God bless!
In verse 31, Paul lists seven sins that are to abandoned by the children of God. Let’s take a little time to look at these sins, because they present an escalating attitude of resentment that can destroy our relationships with others.
a. Bitterness – This word refers to a “smoldering resentment; a grudge-filled attitude.” Bitterness in the heart will fill a person with perpetual animosity. The bitter person will usually be sour and often filled with resentment and spite. Bitterness is mentioned first because the other attitudes that are mentioned in this verse flow out of bitterness.
Bitterness is dangerous, because the Bible says that it can become rooted in our lives, Heb. 12:15, and it will poison all the relationships we have in our lives. Bitterness comes from a heart that is not right with God, Acts 8:21-23. It is one of the major characteristics of a person who is not saved, Rom. 3:10-14. And it often leads to destruction of faith and relationships, Heb. 12:15.
A clear example of the danger of bitterness is a man named Ahithophel. Ahithophel was David’s counselor. When Absalom rebelled against his father, Ahithophel joined the rebellion. When it became clear that David would prevail, Ahithophel went to his house and committed suicide, 2 Sam. 17:23.
The reason Ahithophel committed suicide was because he was bitter about something David had done to a member of his family many years before. Ahithophel had a son named Eliam, 2 Sam. 23:34. Eliam had a daughter named Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:3. David committed adultery with Ahithophel’s granddaughter, and Ahithophel could not forgive and get past the sin of David. His resentment turned into bitterness and it poisoned Ahithophel to the point where it caused him to turn on a friend, and to eventually commit suicide.
Bitterness, if allowed to exist in our hearts, will produce a root system that will grow until it has infiltrated and undermined every area of your life. The root of bitterness will send its tendrils into every area of your life, and eventually, it will destroy you.
- • Bitterness will make you sick physically. As you fret and worry over what you think persons or institutions have done to you, your body will respond in sickness.
- • Bitterness will harm you emotionally. The root of bitterness will entangle itself around your peace. your joy and your happiness and choke the life right out of them. It will leave you a sad, empty shell.
- • Bitterness will destroy your relationship with others. As bitterness grows, you will become a negative, critical person. Others will not want to be around you and you will eventually be left all alone.
- • Bitterness will demolish you spiritually. As you fixate on the person, persons or institutions that you feel wronged you, you will lose your focus on the Lord. The object of your worship becomes yourself and your feelings. In essence, you become your own god. There is a sense that the object of your bitterness also becomes a god in your life, because they, and not the Lord, have your attention. Bitter people destroy churches, ministries and other people’s influence.
Don’t let that happen in your life. Deal with your hurts and refute to allow them to grow into a “root of bitterness” that will choke the joy and peace out of your life. If it allowed to flourish, that “root of bitterness” will destroy you and all the relationships in your life. Bitter people are sad, hard to get along with, and ultimately, they are selfish, because they care for nothing but their own feelings. Bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit, v. 30.