Photo courtesy of Jason Pruitt
Pastor Jason Pruitt, Parkway Baptist Church.

■ Jason Pruitt / Contributed

I heard a quote once about bitterness. “Bitterness is a poison you drink wishing the other person would die.” I think it’s a pretty accurate statement concerning how we deal with bitterness and disappointments.
Bitterness, in Ephesians 4:31, paves the way for wrath, anger, evil speaking, etc. So if I hold on to bitterness, then I eventually will give way to evil thoughts, which will lead to evil words.
Likewise, being kind one to another paves the way for forgiveness and being tenderhearted toward one another.
We have all come across situations where bitterness taints future relationships: “So and so said such to me and I just cannot stand her…” Then you ask when this happened. The response is something along the line of, “well, it was four years ago, but she hasn’t changed!” So a person who may otherwise be wonderful is unknowingly crucified for years for one bad moment. This is not the Christian way; we know better than that. However, it is a matter of putting into practice the art of not becoming bitter.
If you search the Bible for lessons on bitterness, you will find a variety of different verses. There are verses that mention bitterness directly, like Ephesians 4:31. Then, there are verses that allude to bitterness by mentioning not seeking out revenge. It seems that bitterness is tied to these verses because bitterness is the seed that, if watered with an unforgiving spirit, leads to vengeance, wrath, malice and other negative traits.
Recently, I was reading a verse, Matthew 10:14, that had absolutely nothing to do with bitterness, but it made me reflect on the subject. “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”
In other words, get over it. The disciples, here, were sent out by Christ to do works. Matthew 10:1 tells us that, “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”
My thought is, why would anyone want to kick these guys out of their city or house if they were doing nothing but good? Yet, they crucified our savior for the same, and He was without sin. Not everyone appreciates kindness.
So here is the gist, “shake off the dust of your feet.” We often are walking around church covered in the dust of things we refuse to let go. So and so said this. So and so did that. Pastor didn’t shake my hand. So and so ignored me. The only person trying to fuel bitterness and put a wedge between you and a Christian brother or sister is Satan.
Remember this, as told in Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
The battle is not against Susie who sits on the left side of the auditorium who supposedly gave you a glaring look. The battle is against Satan.
The problem is we forget who the real enemy is and take it out on Susie. We ignore “we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” and we let bitterness fester as we wrestle against flesh and blood.
Bitterness has destroyed many good churches. Satan uses that subtle tactic to get people to give way to wrath, strife, revenge, etc. Yet, Ephesians 4:27 says “Neither give place to the devil.”
Some people feel it is them against the world, but that is just someone walking around covered in the dust of things they refuse to let go. Bitterness has gotten the best of them.
Don’t let bitterness get the best of you.

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