Triumph Over Giants From Within (6) - Bitterness
Lewis Semedes, in his book ˇ§Forgave and Forgetˇ¨, has the following story concerning events after World War II. A German officer was incarcerated for 30 years because of war crimes. He planned, upon his release at the termination of the sentence, to take his aged wife to live at a quiet wooded hillside where he could enjoy the rest of his days. At the same time, a French journalist was brimming with bitterness inside because his whole family was slaughtered on the orders of this German officer. He waited for his enemy to be released so that he could exact his revenge. Although the military tribunal did not sentence this officer to death, in the heart of the French journalist such a sentence was already pronounced. The reporter successfully roused up the hatred of certain survivors of the war, so that they agreed to secretly help him visit their retribution on this elderly couple. At noon on the day chosen, this journalist interviewed the German officer, revealing during the conversation his true identity and the tragic circumstances suffered during the war. In the process of the dialogue, the French reporter finally softened his attitude towards the old man, and told him that a group of people would be coming that night to do them harm. He convinced them to leave that danger zone with him. The old man told the journalist that they were willing to depart in his company, but on one condition, that they receive his forgiveness. The journalist was not so disposed however, and he left. That night he carried out his plan of revenge, brought others and killed that elderly couple. This reporter was willing to save his enemy, but was unwilling to forgive. Bitterness accumulated over many years was the force that drove this person to diligently research and meticulously plan his revenge. Asking him to forgive was the same as wanting him to abandon the meaning of his continued existence over those years. If bitterness has taken deep roots in the human heart, it is very difficult to eliminate. In reality, many people sometime are willing to share the saving Gospel, yet they are reluctant to forgive brother from their heart, the root of bitterness hides deep underneath.
Bitterness is like an enemy that has hidden in the forest and is not easily exposed. It is not like anger, which can readily be uncovered. Bitterness is an element of manˇ¦s secret lust. It has a period of gestation and requires time to slowly grow. A few years ago, a news item came out of America. An employee of a paper products company seemingly had an ideal family, was sound in body and mind, and had a stable life. In the morning of a normal workday, he brought two fully-loaded guns back to his company and opened fire over 30 times at close range. He killed his superior and many other colleagues, including a friend who had worked together with him for over 15 years, and then shot and killed himself. The police was at a loss to explain the motive for this murdererˇ¦s killing spree after this incident. According to their investigation, over the years his superior had promoted 2 of his colleagues but not him. His co-worker and friend of 15 years had twice admonished him for his angry attitude during driving. When the journalist for Time magazine reported this news, he placed this caption under the manˇ¦s photograph: Responsible, Respectful, Resentful. The root of bitterness hid deep within the heart of this man for many years, and when it reached the point of intolerability, it exploded together with fury and hatred into an unsalvageable state.
Against this cleverly concealed giant, bitterness, the Bible has the following teachings for us:
1. Guard well our hearts so that bitterness will have no opportunity to take root. ˇ§See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.ˇ¨ (Hebrews 12:15) Bitterness and hatred are twins; the best way to combat them is not to give them the chance to germinate. They wonˇ¦t take form if we first donˇ¦t permit them to tarry in our hearts. When people deliberately or inadvertently offend us, we must seek help from God so as not to reckon or record what the person has done. We must rely on the Lord and learn to forget. Paul admonishes us that ˇ§loveˇKkeeps no record of wrongs.ˇ¨ (1 Corinthians 13:5)
2. Learn to extinguish bitterness through an attitude of forgiveness. ˇ§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.ˇ¨ (Ephesians 4:31-32)
3. Hold fast our tongues, and donˇ¦t spew off streams of curses and bitterness to cause injury through our words. For bitter words are like deadly aimed arrows (Psalm 64:3) that will aggravate hatred in human relationships.
By: Daniel To