What Does The Bible Say About Bitterness_

What Does The Bible Say About Bitterness?

If we’re not careful, we can easily become bitter. Our past is often the source of bitterness. We experienced something harmful and can’t seem to forget it. Then we end up with feelings of bitterness towards the people who caused us pain, even if it’s our family and friends, We can also become bitter towards God, even if He isn’t the one to blame.

It’s common for us to blame God for the bad things that happen in the world, and take credit ourselves for the good things. We think people are helping the world, and God is causing harm and destruction.

The dictionary defines bitterness in two ways.

The first is a sour taste and a lack of sweetness. I’m sure you’ve bitten into a piece of bitter fruit that you were expecting to be sweet. We can also describe bitter people as having a lack of sweetness or kindness towards others.

The second definition is anger, disappointment, and resentment caused by being treated unfairly.

Even if we feel justified in our bitterness, it causes more harm in our life. Bitterness doesn’t solve the problem or fix the unfair treatment. Oftentimes, the bitterness makes the original problem worse instead of better.

7 things that the Bible says about bitterness

  1. We can become bitter when other people are treating us wrongly.
  2. We become bitter when we blame God for hardships in life.
  3. Bitterness is a poison that destroys good things in our life.
  4. Bitterness usually shows up in the words we speak.
  5. Our bitterness can turn other people away from God.
  6. Bitterness is a root that will grow if we don’t deal with it.
  7. We can get rid of bitterness through God’s grace and forgiveness.
"They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.”
Exodus 1:14 NLT

This first verse is talking about how the Egyptians treated the Israelites. They took advantage of them and forced them into slavery. The harsh labor made the Israelites bitter. At the same time, it wasn’t enough to cause them to rebel. Even after Moses led them our of Egyptian slavery, they complain and ask to go back.

Hebrews 10:22

Bitterness isn’t enjoyable, but it’s a trap because the situation usually isn’t bad enough to cause us to make a change. 

If we experience bitterness at work or in a relationship, it can continue to grow because the pain of change is greater than the discomfort of bitterness. 

We become bitter when we blame God

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter."
Ruth 1:20 NIV
“As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter,”
Job 27:2 NIV

Here we can see two instances of people blaming God for making their life bitter. There’s no doubt that Naomi and Job both experienced severe hardships. 

Naomi lost her husband and both of her sons. Job lost all of his children and his livestock. They dealt with pain that most people can’t begin to imagine. And they both blame God for their loss.

John 10:10

Was it God who caused their family members to die? Did God make their life bitter?

I don’t believe so. Jesus said that He came to give life and life abundantly, not to cause death and loss. Instead, Jesus tells us that the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He is the one we should be blaming for the tragedies that we experience, not God.

The devil only has three goals in life: stealing, killing, and destroying. His fingerprints were on Naomi and Job’s lives, not God’s.

We need to understand that God’s will is that we would have life. He came to give us life, but the devil is trying to steal it from us to turn us away from God. 

Bitterness is a poisonous root that produces bad fruit

“For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
Acts 8:23 NKJV
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
Romans 3:14 NIV / Quoted from Psalm 10:7
"Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
Hebrews 12:15 NLT

These verses about bitterness show us that bitterness is like poison. As I mentioned earlier, we often believe that our bitter feelings are justified because of the hurt that we experienced. The reality is that bitterness curses and poisons our life even more. Hebrews describes it like a root. If we don’t get rid of it, the bitter root grows and we’re going to end up with bitter, unenjoyable fruit in our life.

Instead of bringing health and restoration, bitterness causes more damage. Proverbs 18:21 says that we have the power of life in death in our tongue. And James 3:4-5 describes our tongue like the rudder of a ship, controlling which direction is goes in. When our mouth is filled with bitterness, it’s like a poison that’s killing things that God wants to bring to life. We need to be aware of the words that are coming out of our mouth and recognize that what we say is having a significant impact on our life. 

We often let words slip out without giving them second thought. We speak out of emotion and say things that we don’t really mean. If you don’t take control over the words coming out of your mouth, you can end up somewhere you never intended. 

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you."
James 1:19-21 NIV

How can we get rid of bitterness?

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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.”
Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV

Here, Paul tells the Ephesians to get rid of bitterness. He wouldn’t tell them to do that if it wasn’t possible and important. We need to recognize that there’s bitterness within us and we need to get rid of it. We can do that with the help of the Holy Spirit which is why Paul says to not grieve Him, He is our helper. We also need to start being kind and compassionate to people.

Bitter people are often mean and don’t want to sacrifice anything to help others. 

When we ask God to get rid of bitterness, He is able and willing to help us rip out the roots of bitterness that have grown in our hearts. Then, we need to replace it with something better.

If we get rid of something, the void will be filled by something else and we get to decide what that is.

Paul suggests that we fill that void with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. When we replace bitterness with better things, we will live a more enjoyable life, having better friendships and relationships with people and with God. 

Pray and ask God if there is anyone that you’re bitter towards. This can happen without even realizing it. A tiny incident can plant a tiny seed of bitterness that grows over time.

If someone hurt you, you don’t need to become their best friend, but you do need to forgive them and ask God to forgive you for harboring resentment towards them. The truth is, the bitterness you’re feeling is causing more problems in your life. It’s not producing anything good, so it’s best to get rid of it, even if that process is uncomfortable. 

Ephesians 4:32

The Bible makes it clear that we shouldn’t live with bitterness. God wants us to live free from its poison, and He wants to help us replace bitterness with health and life.

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