“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”
Ephesians 4:31 NLT
A smile on my face does not equal a smile in my heart. Sadly, I have allowed others to upset me and formed an opinion which then clouds not simply my take on them, but also obscures my friendship with God. However justified I might feel about the attitude I’ve adopted, it remains wrong with God.
What I find challenging about scripture is the clarity and simplicity of its demands: ‘Get rid of’, or ‘put away’, as another translation puts it, suggests something as simple as taking off a jacket. If I nurture the wound of bitterness in my heart, then almost every action of another can deepen that wound. A wound that fails to heal is potentially fatal. When bitterness festers, it becomes established within my heart; I am hardly living. It’s all-consuming.
The phrase ‘get rid of’ or ‘put away’ has many meanings. For example, my bitterness I can put away, but like the jacket mentioned above, while it’s in the wardrobe it can all too easily be taken out every time I want to wear it. It has not been dealt with, merely stored.
At the other end of the extreme, ‘get rid of’ or ‘put away’ can mean to place in prison or remove from everyday life completely. This is perhaps a better approach, for my attitude is already judged and found guilty by God and is to be removed from my everyday experience. It is not entirely beyond my reach, yet it is in a process of reform, the highest objective of imprisonment.
In American parlance ‘put away’ can mean to kill, and this is the best outcome for me when I have literally removed all life from my bitterness and anger and no longer feel any desire to speak ill or act inappropriately to the source of such bitterness.
Slowly God has brought me to a place where I recognise and acknowledge this and have found the grace to move forward.
Are there any areas of lingering bitterness in your heart?
Lord, help myself and anyone struggling with bitterness to walk the path of forgiveness.