How to Avoid Bitterness in Your Life
Praying for Avoiding Bitterness
Are you ready for some troubles? Will you be taken off guard when troubles hit home? When unexpectedly you loose your health, loose your wealth, loose a family member, loose your mobility, loose your independence…or any other of a million unexpected losses we all face each day.
God's Word challenges each of us to get ready and stay ready - Troublesome times are coming!
We are looking at how to disciple our children through prayer and the Scriptures and now we are focusing on preparing our children for troubles they inevitable will face. God's Word teaches us how to see our children avoiding bitterness when they go through deep and painful trials. Troubles are one of the surest things in life. As Job said, “Man is born for adversity as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5.7) From birth life is an uphill climb against physical obstacles, socio-economic prejudices, relational jealousies, academic challenges and spiritual adversities. From the challenges of relating to people to the physical exertions of everyday life there is nothing easy about daily existence.
But as life goes on and we pick up speed we soon find that there is never enough time when we need it, never quite enough money to pay for all we want, and then comes not enough strength to do what is always coming at us. But then the worst part comes upon us, our health begins to erode, our bodies begin to show their frailties and we experience many different types of pain and discomforts.
“When God permits suffering to come to our lives, there are several ways we can deal with it. Some people become bitter and blame God for robbing them of freedom and pleasure. Others just “give up” and fail to get any blessing out of the experience because they will not put any courage into the experience. Still others grit their teeth and put on a brave front, determined to “endure to the very end.” While this is a courageous response, it usually drains them of the strength needed for daily living; and after a time, they may collapse.”
Remember, God wants troubles to push us towards Him. He wants to refine us, purge us, build us up, and overflow our lives with blessings. And all that only comes through TRIALS! So troubles are coming and without any disasters or tragedies -- just life is very hard. Most people do not make it through life without long or short seasons of anger and bitterness at someone or something. Knowing that, it is of utmost priority that we prepare our children to avoid bitterness in the trials that WILL COME.
So how do we prepare our children for emotional, spiritual, and physical troubles? The answer is of course in God's Word. Prayer is the key to raising, nurturing, and launching children that please the Lord is learning how to pray for our children. The Apostles said, “We will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” As parents are we doing the same? Are we praying and ministering the Word to our children and grandchildren? How do we do that? We are in our seventh week of exploring how to give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word and this is what we have found:
We Must Pray for Reality in Their Spiritual Life:
We Must Pray for Integrity in Their Personal Life:
Why would we pray for our children to never resist trials and become embittered by them? Because God uses trials as one of His three very special tools to shape our lives into Christlikeness. The other two tools are God's Word and prayer. We love the Word and prayer but we don’t like the trials.
If we resist the troubles and trials of life, becoming angry at our circumstances and those who hurt us, we miss one of the greatest tools God uses in our lives. And if we stay angry about life and unforgiving of those who hurt us there is a dangerous weed that begins to choke our lives called bitterness. So this morning we need to embrace our ministry of praying that trials never embitter us or our children.
Paul writes to the church at Ephesus that bitterness travels in bad company. He notes the evil companions that hang out with the attitude of bitterness. We should be praying that we and our families beware of bitterness and all his evil buddies. So, to focus our hearts, open with me to Ephesians 4:30-32.
Here is what we should be praying that those we love and want to please the Lord – avoid in their lives.
1. Bitterness is like a smoldering fire. The Greeks defined this word as long-standing resentment, and as the person who refuses to be reconciled. So many of us have a way of nursing our wrath to keep it warm, of brooding over the insults and the injuries we have received. This brooding grudge–filled attitude of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8:23 and Esau in Heb. 12:15 is characteristic of pagans and not Christ's children. It is the spirit of irritability that keeps a person in continual acrimony, making him tart and poisonous, Every Christian might well pray that God would teach him how to forget like God taught Joseph in Genesis 41.51-52.
2. Wrath is the outbreaks of passion and has to do with wild rage, the passion of the moment. The Greeks defined wrath as the kind of anger like the flame which comes from straw; it quickly blazes up and just as quickly subsides.
3. Anger is long-lived anger, a more internal smoldering, a subtle and deep feeling. Unlike wrath they described it as anger which has become habitual. To the Christian the burst of temper and the long-lived anger are both alike forbidden.
4. Clamor is the shout or outcry of strife and reflects the public outburst that reveals loss of control.
5. Slander (from which we get blasphemy) is the ongoing defamation of someone that rises from a bitter heart.
6. Malice is the general term for evil that is the root of all vices. All of these, he says, must be
What was the solution? Paul gets very practical, he says put away from you. The word the Spirit guides him to pen is a word that is used for taking off clothes (cf. Acts 7:58; 1 Pet. 2:1). Just as after a long day of hard labor the workman takes off his dirty work clothes, so we as believers must discard the filthy, tattered rags of their old life. Paul may be reflecting one of the applications of baptism in the early church. Those being baptized would lay aside their old outer clothes before their baptism and be given a new white robe afterwards.
So God is saying bitterness and its buddies are part of the old life, so put aside these rags of our old life. When there is an accident the rescue people come and quickly clean up the stained pavement. When there is contamination of an area the crews quickly isolate and rid the area of the dangerous materials. So bitterness and its buddies must be avoided or its poison will spread. Then he tells us to put on our new clothes of kindness. The Greeks defined this quality as the disposition of mind which thinks as much of its neighbor’s affairs as it does of its own. Kindness has learned the secret of looking outwards all the time, and not inwards. He tells us to forgive others as God forgave us. So, in one sentence, Paul lays down the law of personal relationships—that we should treat others as Jesus Christ has treated us.
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