Acts 8:12-2512But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.13ThenSimon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.14Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:15Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:16(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,19Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.20But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.21Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.23For I perceive that thou art inthe gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.24Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to theLordfor me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.25And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
What is bitterness?What type of attitude are we discussing here?
Theword isPikrosin the Greek and literally means“sharp, piercing”.John MacArthur describes it as“a smoldering resentment, a brooding grudge-filled attitude… It is the spirit of irritability that keeps a person in perpetual animosity, making him sour and venomous“.Another commentator says bitterness is“settled hostility that poisons the whole inner man.”
Althoughit often starts with angry feeling over a specificoffenseit is more.Bitternessinvolves angry feelings that we hang on to.Angerturns into resentment as we continue to think about the offense.
Listen to the Hebrew writer:
Heb. 12: 14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which nomanshall see the Lord:15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;lestany root of bitterness springing uptrouble you, and thereby many be defiled;Notice:‘root of bitterness’ Pulling up ‘bitter weeds’
Ephesians4:31Letall bitterness, and wrath, and anger, andclamour,andevil speaking,be put away from you, with all malice:1 Samuel 1:10And she wasin bitterness of soul, andprayedunto the Lord, and wept sore.Ruth 1:20And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt verybitterly with me.
1 Samuel 15:32Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to meAgagthe king of the Amalekites. AndAgagcame unto him delicately. AndAgagsaid, Surely thebitterness of death is past.Job 7:11Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in thebitterness of my soul.
Proverbs 17:25A foolish son is a grief to his father, andbitterness to her that bare him.Ecclesiastes 7:26And I find morebitterthan death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whosopleasethGod shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken byherIsaiah 5:20Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that putbitterfor sweet, and sweet forbitter!
Matthew 26:75And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and weptbitterlyColossians3:19Husbands, love your wives, and be notbitteragainst them.James3:11Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water andbitter?James3:14But if ye havebitterenvying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
Revelation 10:10And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly wasbitter.
Cain and Abel Gen. 4:8And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass,whenthey were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abelhisbrother, and slew him.Remember God had asked:4:6So the Lord said to Cain,Why are you angry?Why?
The New Testament states plainly:
.Eph4:31-32–Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.NoticeThe opening wordinPaul’s list is rendered asbitternessin most translations.
Are we bitter sometimes?
It especially resurfaces when we are around the person who has offended us. So we avoid them. When we are around them the slightest provocation sets us off.Webecome jaded about everything that person does. We always assume the worst and attach the worst motive to everything they do.Evenwhen efforts are made to reconcile we refuse to talk or impose impossible conditionsIt works like a long-acting poison, killing the person from the inside
Joseph’s Battle with Bitterness:Manyof the bitter people we might meet areabsolutelyconvinced that their special circumstances justifiestheirattitude and anger.You may hear them say:“You do not know how bad I have been treated”.But God has an answer for that. He would point us to amannamedJoseph in O.T.Ifthere was ever a man who had a righttobe bitter, it was Joseph
Genesis37records the animosity of Joseph’s brothers and their willingness to sell him into slavery.Heends up in Egypt as a slave,butthings do not end there.Whilein Egypt, Joseph hadsuffereda number of setbacks.
When he refused the advances of his master’s wife,she accused him of trying to assault her and Josephwas thrown into prison.He is lied about and betrayed again.In prison, he helped one of his fellow inmateswho later forgot him when this inmate was released.He is betrayed again.
ThroughGod’s providential power, Joseph is given the opportunity to interpret the dream of the Pharaoh, and a great famine is averted.Josephis appointed to a very powerful position. In the preparation for the famine Joseph is put in charge of distributing the food that was stored.When strangers from a distant land come to buy food Joseph recognizes them as his own brothers.Here is Joseph, a powerful man now, withtheir very lives in his hands.What would he do?What would we do?
Genesis 45:1-15Howcould Joseph treat these guys so good after all they had done to him?Josephmusthave fought a tough battle with bitterness.ElbertHubbard, an early 20th century American writer, has observed:“The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure contemptuous treatment without resentment.”Joseph showed his greatness
Whatcan we learn from Joseph?Sometimesanger can make us lose our perspective. We inflate things in our minds and this helps justify our bitterness.Iam challenged by the wounds that Joseph suffered. Few of us have faced this degree of mistreatment.
TheLongevity of the Temptation:Joseph’sfaith was tested overa long period of timein this matter.AfterJacob dies, Joseph’sbrothers fear that animosity andvengefulness stilllie sequestered in the heart of Joseph.Hereis the perfect opportunity for Joseph to get even for the evil that was done to him long ago.
.Gen. 50:15-21– Certainly Joseph could view his desire for revenge as an opportunity for justice.It is important that we are able to properly understand the principles and characteristics of the God we serve.Josephunderstood that God’s blessing and providence were not given to him to serve his own fleshly desires.
Joseph’sInitiative:We see Joseph’sinitiative in turning back the bitterness.Oneof the reasons people fail to work out their problemsandwind up becoming bitter is because no one is willing totakethe initiative to fix them.
A husband and wife have a fight; the husband feels like the wife is wrong and he’s going to be mad and they’re not speaking until she comes and apologizes.Brethren have a fuss,both feel the other is wrong and refuse to resolve the problem until the other guy takes the first step. Who made the rule that the other guy has to come to me?Jesusdid not.
If you are the offended one you should go:Matt 18:15–17“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.If we have offended someone, we go to them –Matt 5:23-24–Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.Ifwe’re going to win this battle over bitterness, we must be willing to take the lead to work things out!
Joseph’sKindness:Noticethat he doesnot simply forgivehis brother’s past offenses.He also floods them withacts of kindness. He gives them foodwhenthey deserved none.Heprotects them.Gen50:21–1 Now therefore, do not be afraid;I will provide for you and your little ones.”And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
The Bibledescribes the hatred of his brothers when he was young.Gen 37:4 –But when his brothers saw that their father lovedhim morethan all his brothers,they hated himand could notspeak peaceablyto him.Joseph’s heart was not contaminated with the envy and hatred that was evidenced in the tone of their voice. He spoke kindly to them.
.Joseph’s actions point to a true key to battling bitterness.Sometimeseven after forgiveness has been voiced tensions remain.Thatemotional tension can cause bitterness to breed.Butdoing active good for another can heal the emotional hurt.Ifthey get sick, be the first to take some food by or send a card.Ifthey need some help, be the first to volunteer.Havethem over for ameal or take them out to eat. .It will not be easy, but it is therightthing to do
Matt 5:43-45–43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;
God’s Word is True. It works!!Rom12:19-21–Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Bro. GranvilleTyler. Illustration
Paulproclaims that God’s people must not seek vengeance, but rather allow for the vengeance of God.Infact, Paul’s argument is that the individual has no right to seek justice on his own. He goes on the expressright of the government (because it is ordained of God) to execute justice. (I appeal to Caesar)Whenthe government is unable or unwilling to acquire justice, the Christian must rely upon God.
.God calls us torepay evil with good.Ourhearts must be purified of every vestige of self-justification.By absolute submissiveness we overcome evil.Thatis what Josephdid.All of the evil that was brought into his life by Satan was undone by God through the right moral choices of Joseph.He overcame evil with good.
LookatJoseph’s way of looking at what has happened.Joseph’s Perspective:Gen50:19-20 –Joseph said to them,“Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day,to save many people alive.As he reflects on what happened, hedoes not focuson the terrible things his brothers did, buton the good that came from it.He focuses onwhat God has done positively in his life. This was a choice on his part.
Most of us have been mistreated. And most of us have mistreated others.Itmay be difficult at times to see God in ourmistreatment, Attimes our most objective and beneficial critics are our enemies.Weneed to pay attention to what they say. I can benefit from theirwounds.Has some unfair criticism of your childrenmade you reevaluate your parenting?Hassome slight by others during a time of need made youmore careful to care for others during their time ofneed?.
Some difficult person can help me grow my patience.James 1:2-4–My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.I’d still be eating! (Bro. From Sheffield)
Bitterness…Let allbitterness..becast from you.Areyou being poisoned? Am I?Are we bitter???Satanis at work.Wemust be willing to act likeJesus teachesUs and like he Himself demonstrated in HisLife and Death!