Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

11/18/2018 P.M.

 

Overcoming Resentment & Bitterness

Acts 8.4-25

 

Tonight we examine the problem of RESENTMENT & BITTERNESS... And how we can overcome it.

 

Imagine that a man comes wanting to shake hands... And strike up a conversation…. Even a friendship. The only problem is that he is dragging a dead, rotten carcass of a dog behind him. He says... I know he stinks... But he’s with me day and night… I just can’t let him go...Would you like to help me pet him?

 

None of us would carry around a dead dog... But many of us drag around something just as smelly… Just as offensive...

Resentment and bitterness.

• Holding a grudge...

• Allowing bitterness to live... even reign & rule our life...ruining OUR  life.

 

This is ruining our lives... And is certainly keeping us from enjoying life.

 

You read the classic novel... MOBY DICK?  The great white whale had crippled Captain Ahab... And from that point on... He became obsessed with destroying Moby Dick. His whole life revolved around his resentment and bitterness. It tainted everything he did.  His bitterness twisted him into a cruel and hateful person.

 

As one reads the book... It becomes plain that the real victim of Ahab’s hatred was Ahab himself. His obsession made him a most unhappy man… Is this us?... Is this us?

 

The story is told of two writers who were bitter rivals. They were attending the same book signing party...

 

•One said to the other... I read your new book and liked it... Who wrote it for you?

 

•The other replied... I'm glad you liked the book... Who read it to you?

 

Bitterness... We’ve all seen it... We’ve all heard it... We’ve all harbored it at times... Perhaps some of us are dealing with bitterness even tonight.

 

Resentment and Bitterness are terrible things...

Together they add up to sin!!

Access a worship bulletin and let’s see what we can learn...

 

Our subject is somewhat difficult to define.

 

Webster says... Bitterness is an attitude of.... unfriendliness... Resentment... animosity... Due to a hurt.

 

It goes like this...

• We are hurt by... Somebody... Something... Even God...

• Someone achieves the success or is blessed in a way we feel like we deserve...We pout!

• We perceive that life is unfair to us...

• So... That hurt causes us to be angry...

Not controlled... Our anger leads us to be resentful toward that...Somebody... Something... Even God.

• If not controlled... The end result of... Hurt... Anger... Resentment... is bitterness.

 

Listen...If we fail to overcome our resentment and animosity... We will become bitter people. Bitterness is a malignant form of resentment and animosity that results in our becoming... Harsh... Hateful... Ugly... Unpleasant... Unfriendly... Unforgiving... People.

 

In Scripture...We see the ugliness of Resentment & Bitterness in Cain.

He became angry with God because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected his.  This anger burned until these feelings led to Cain’s killing his brother.  We know from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that the sin was not the murder... But Cain’s...Uncontrolled... Misplaced... Anger.

 

We see how twisted resentment and bitterness can be in this narrative... Because it was not Abel’s fault that God accepted his sacrifice... Cain’s anger was misdirected... His anger should have been direct toward himself!  He perceived his brother to be the cause of his hurt... So he killed him.

Resentment and bitterness lead to sin.

 

In Acts chapter eight... The narrative is about Simon the sorcerer.

According to verse 9... He astonished the people of Samaria claiming to be someone great. Everyone said of him... This man is the great power of God. But the truth is, his power didn't come from God. He was merely one who tricked people into believing he had supernatural abilities.

 

When Philip came preaching in Samaria... Simon was among those who believed... And was baptized. Verse 13 tells us that Simon was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

 

In verse 18 & 19 Simon asked if he could purchase this miraculous ability with money. Peter rebuked Simon saying... Repent of your wickedness, and pray to God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness.

 

It wasn't just that Simon wanted to do something the Apostles could do. 

• You see... Anger… Jealousy… Envy… Animosity…Was at work in his heart...

• There was resentment.

• Resulting in bitterness

And we know that this condition was a sin because it called for repentance... Prayer... And forgiveness.

 

Then there’s the older brother of the Prodigal son…About a boy who broke his father's heart by going off to live in the far country of sin... There he wasted his father’s inheritance in rebellious... Sinful living.

 

He lost everything... And he ended up working in a pigpen feeding swine. Knowing that he didn’t deserve his Father’s forgiveness... He thought he might take him back as a servant. But when he got home... Instead he found... Acceptance... Forgiveness... Rejoicing.

 

But there was one who was unwilling to celebrate... Listen to the narrative... Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. `Your brother has come,' he replied, `and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father,`Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

 

On the outside this older brother was everything a father could want a son to be... RIGHT?

But inside he was filled with...

Anger…

• Envy…

jealousy...

RESENTMENT...

Animosity...

He is a classic example of bitterness

 

Indeed... It's easy for us to give in to bitterness... If we feel we’ve been victimized in some way.

 

Perhaps we think we have the right to be resentful.

• So go ahead and grumble.

• Get angry at other people who got what you didn't.

• Go ahead and sulk.

• After all... The whole world is against us.

• Take every opportunity to accuse others of wrong doing.

• Keep a list... Make sure we don't forget anything from anyone!!

• Spend a lot of time whining about how unfair life is.

• Complain about how nobody listens to us... Nobody cares about us... Nobody treats us right.

• Go ahead and become a bitter person because you have the right to.

 

It's tempting at times to give in to bitterness... But I can tell you this... If we decide to be bitter... Don't plan on being happy...  Because the two are mutually exclusive.

 

Here it is church... A bitter heart will make every minute of life miserable... You can count on it!

 

The good news tonight is this... We have a choice.

• We can choose... Like so many do... To concentrate on our hurts.

• Or we can choose to put away our hurts... Before they become hates.

• We can choose to forgive those who have wronged us.

• We can learn to rejoice in the good fortunes of others... Even if we're neglected in the process.

 

Now... Let's note some New Testament Passages that name

Resentment and bitterness a sin.

 

Ephesians 4.30-32... Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

 

Paul is talking here about putting off the old man & putting on a new man.

 

• You see... There are certain attitudes that have no place in our hearts... As God’s children...One of these is bitterness.

 

• A bitter heart grieves the Holy Spirit because it is filled with envy and anger.

 

• Bitterness prompts us to be unthankful... With a heart of ingratitude...Thanksgiving and bitterness are mutually exclusive.

 

• A resentful heart is one that’s going to speak bad... Ugly... Evil... Of and toward others.

 

Notice what Paul says we need to replace bitterness with...  Get rid of bitterness and replace it with... (WHAT?)... Kindness and forgiveness.

 

Hebrews 12.14-15... Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.

 

• This passage lets us know in no uncertain terms that bitterness always causes trouble.

• This passage tells us that bitterness causes relationary problems.

• Bitterness causes a person to turn his back on the grace of God..

 

These two verses plainly teach that we cannot have a right relationship with God and others while pursuing… Envy… Jealousy… Resentment… Toward a brother... How we treat another is how we treat God.

 

James 3.13-14... Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-centeredness in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.

 

• James says that bitterness is connected with envy & SELFISHNESS.

• Bitterness grows rapidly in a heart that is focused on self.

• Bitterness comes when we feel we don't get what we deserve.

 

You see... Bitterness is frequently the result of OUR wanting something that someone else has... In fact that is what envy is.

 

Colossians 3.19...Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.

 

In Paul’s day... Women were second class citizens with almost no rights under law. They were frequently mistreated by their husbands and other men in the community. But Paul made it clear that spiritually speaking... Men and women stand on an equal level before God... There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

There probably were some men who didn't like this idea of equality... And who needed Paul’s reminder to not be bitter toward theIr wives just because God saw and held them spiritually equal.

 

Now... With these thoughts in mind...

OK... What are some other ways to overcome bitterness?

 

First... We must remember that it is a lie that says all mankind are equal.

Yes...

• All men may be created equal in God’s sight...

• All are made in His image...

• All have souls worth saving eternally...

But not all are... born... Live... Or DIE... equally... Look around you!!!!... This is a lie from Satan.

 

As long as we hold this to be true, life will likely be disappointing and less than we want.

There is no way to create equality in this world...

• Democracy promised it... But failed to establish it.

• Communism tried... But failed even more miserably..

 

Satan will sustain bitterness forever in the hearts of those who buy into the lie that we have been wronged... If we don’t get to have all and everything someone else has.

 

Understand tonight that all men are... not born... live... Or die... equally.

 

Indeed... Sometimes Life is unfair...So we must accept it!... Get used to it... And make the most of it... Or become bitter.

 

Secondly... We need to Count our blessings.

When angry over the good fortune of others compared to our own apparent good luck...We need to remember what great blessings are ours.

 

The older brother had forgotten that all his father had belonged to him. Daddy had to remind him of this...Yet it seemed that he did not internalize his good fortune.

 

Ladies... Have you ever felt resentful because...

• The kids have the mumps...

• The car is broke-down...

• The washing machine overflowed...

• The meatloaf boiled-over in the oven...

• And your husband called saying... He would be late because he was going to the deer woods after work.

 

God has a preventive attitude for us... Give thanks in all circumstances.

 

In this case... Perhaps this lady could be thankful that...

• She has otherwise healthy kids... That it’s only the mumps.

• She has a car...

• She has a washing machine...

• Food on the table...

• And a husband that has a good job.

 

When resentful thoughts start to come... We must stop and count our blessings.

 

You see... The older brother was bitter because he focused on what he didn't have to the point that he forgot what he did have... Are some of us doing this?

 

Thirdly... We can rid ourselves of bitterness by sharing with & SERVING others.

Remember

KARL MENNINGER... Was once asked... What he would do if he knew that he was dying?... He said... I would find someone else in a worse condition than myself and I would serve them.

 

Again this is Bible... Serving others is the greatest attribute of Christ-likeness.

 

• God was a servant... He served us by giving His only begotten Son.

 

• Jesus was a servant... He did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the very nature of a SERVANT….Dying on a cross for us.

 

• Greatness in the Kingdom of God is described by Jesus in terms of SERVING OTHERS... Becoming the servant of all.

 

Church... The question becomes...

• Do we want to be like God?

• Do we want to be like Jesus?

• Do we want to be great in the Kingdom?

• Do we want to overcome bitterness?

Then WE MUST learn to LOSE OURSELVES IN sharing & SERVING OTHERS.

 

Then finally... Forgiveness is often the key to overcoming bitterness.

If you forgive men their sin... Your Father will forgive you... But if you do not forgive men their sin... Your Father will not forgive our sins.

 

Church... God promises to bless our forgiving others.

If others have wronged us... And this is the reason for our bitterness...

• FORGIVE THEM...

• Just LET IT GO...

• Get over it!

Forgiveness cleans the slate... It gives us... A fresh start... A new beginning... This is God’s way to deal with... Envy… Hurt... Anger... Resentment... Bitterness.

 

Forgiveness... ALWAYS... ALWAYS... Makes life’s journey more enjoyable... ALWAYS!!

 

Listen to the wisdom found in this poem...

 

As children bring their broken toys,

With tears for us to mend.

I brought my broken dreams to God,

Because He was my friend.

But then instead of leaving Him,

In peace to work alone,

I hung around and tried to help,

with ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,

“How could you be so slow”?

“My child”... He said... “What could I do?

You never did let go!!”

 

Tonight... Get rid of BITTERNESS... Crucify the old man... And put on the new... By Faith... Repentance... And New Testament Baptism.

 

Tonight... Let us each... Confess our faults... And then enjoy the release from the unhappiness of bitterness & resentment.

 

Come Enjoy the Journey... Let go of Resentment & bitterness...

Answer His invitation now... As we stand and sing.