How to Kill Bitterness Before it Kills Your Heart

I don’t know what this says about me, but I’m a murder mystery junkie

One of my favorite pastimes is to watch shows like Dateline or 20/20, where the prosecution makes a case against the defendant. Sometimes I root for the one on trial and other times I can’t wait to see the judge and jury throw the book at the defendant. 😆

Mostly, I just want to see justice being done. I want to see the truth of the situation on trial. 

I’m especially interested in how bad the crime or crime scene was. And what were the motives that the murderer had, which cannot be explained away or minimized?

That’s where my connection to bitterness comes into play here today. 

Whenever we feel anger rising up over and over again toward someone, we’ve got a sin problem and, more than likely, a bitterness problem. And that’s when we must put our own hearts on trial, testing our motives and actions against God’s word and laws to uncover the truth. 

If we do not look at the ugly and horrific facts of our motives and actions, we will continue to commit these kinds of crimes. We will become serial sinners of the worst kind. 

Today, after a very lengthy break from sharing my own blog posts, I want to jump back in with a post that helps you know how to “mortify sin.”

In years past, the word “mortify” meant “put to death” and often referred to putting sin to death in your life. 

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

Colossian 3:5

For the sake of illustration, I want to focus on killing the sin and stronghold of bitterness, though any sin can be dealt with in this way.

I will show you some of the ways bitterness can act like a serial murderer, going on a rampage to destroy not only your heart but so much more. Your relationships, your witness for Christ, your life, and even other people’s lives. 

So we must act as the prosecutor, convicting the serial sinner within by shining the light of God and His word on our wayward hearts. 

How does this sin act like a serial murderer? What happens if we do not stop to consider how ugly and murderous our bitterness is?

Here’s a short list of what can happen and develop …

  • Causes headaches.
  • Increases anxiety.
  • High(er) blood pressure.
  • Brings abdominal pain and indigestion.
  • Weakens the immune system.
  • Causes your stress to increase the stress of others.
  • Increases temptation to self-medicate with food or abuse substances.
  • Increases your moodiness and temper flares.
  • Increases your discontentment in life.
  • Makes you more critical of everyone, including yourself.
  • Rewires your brain to be negative by default.
  • Teaches your children how to be and stay bitter.
  • Encourages your children (when they are adults) to find spouses that are critical and bitter.
  • Encourages your children to be critical and bitter toward you now or at some future point. 
  • Increases your habit of lying since you actively hide your resentments each day.
  • Lessens your faith in God.
  • Hardens your heart to God’s conviction (and hard hearts will turn into dead hearts without repentance).

When that last one happens, you’re in real trouble because your way out of bitterness becomes obscured. And no one in their right mind wants to be trapped in a prison of resentment. 

If you’ve scanned through this non-exhaustive list, my hope is that it will motivate you to put on trial your bitter heart. To convict and even kill every way in which you are hanging on to the poison of resentment. 

How to Kill Bitterness 

First: Find several Bible verses on anger and bitterness that speak to your situation and attitude. (Download my list).  

Second: Meditate on each Scripture, asking God to give you His insight into the condition of your heart. 

Third: Confess to the Lord how you have sinned based on what God’s word reveals. See the example below …

“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

Proverbs 17:9

You might confess to God something like this … 

Father, forgive me for repeatedly criticizing (name of offender). I confess that I have not promoted or shown love to (offender) in this conflict. In fact, I feel more hate than love for (offender). So, instead of acting loving toward (offender), I keep bringing up (offender’s) sin over and over—if not to them, over and over in my conversations. This is not the way You act toward me when I am clearly a sinner, rebelling against you by clinging to bitterness and pride. 

You have saved me and forgiven me of my sins, so why do I act as if my life is my own? Why do I take Your grace and forgiveness for granted, giving myself permission to remain angry and bitter toward (offender)? Forgive me, Father! Cover me in Your grace once again. 

Fourth: Release your sin and recommit to following God’s way, saying something like …

Help me, Father, to learn how to promote love even when it feels as if I have no love to give. Because You give me more than enough love to extend to (offender) if I will only turn to You, laying down every resentment at Your feet. 

And that’s what I am doing now. I surrender to You each complaint and bitter disappointment, trusting You to protect my heart from here on out. I forgive my offender because You forgive me. I also need Your help to know how to show love and forgiveness when I’m offended again. Let my default response be to reflect Your love and grace instead of anger and criticalness. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

If you feel anger soon after this rising up again against your offender, repeat these steps until your faith in God is stronger than your anger. Repeat until you feel God’s love for your offender beginning to take root and grow again.  

Also, be sure to repeatedly act on your commitment. That simply means, act loving not angry and bitter whenever you interact with your offender no matter how you feel. Even though this might initially feel disingenuous, God will work to renew your love through your repeated acts of faith and self-sacrifice. Keep going forward, my friend!

Sometimes sincerely doing this exercise is all it takes to relieve your heart of bitterness. But very often, you will need to do BOTH the prayer process AND sit down to have a hard, but respectful, “boundary” conversation with your offender. 

Stay tuned, because I will share a biblical protocol for how to proceed with a conversation like that in my next post!  

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