The Brutality of Bitterness

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Life, Load Bearing Truths
Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been thinking about bitterness lately.

I haven’t been thinking about it because I’m bitter, at least not at the moment.  I’ve been thinking about it because I’m writing a book on how not to miss God moving and one of the chapters (the one I’m working on right now) is about Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42.  Actually, it should probably be Martha and Mary because I’m pretty sure Martha is the older sister, but we usually turn it around because Mary is the one we all have been told we’re supposed to emulate.

And certainly Martha got herself in a little hot water with Jesus, so she’s not the ideal model.  But here’s the thing:  the more I study that passage in Luke, the more convinced I am that Martha’s big problem wasn’t busyness as we’ve so often heard.  It was bitterness.  I’ve got lots of good evidence to back up that claim and if you like, you can read an extended article about it here.  But in short, Martha didn’t get rebuked because she was busy doing things for Jesus.  She got rebuked because somehow in the midst of serving Jesus she got so bitter that she blew up, not only at her sister but at Jesus too.

That’s the thing about bitterness:  it poisons the well of our soul, leaches into everything we are and robs us of joy.  It keeps us from taking pleasure in what we get to do because we can’t stop thinking about what others aren’t doing for us. It chains us to “I can’t believe they won’t…” and keeps us from ever thinking “I get to…”

And here’s another thing I’ve learned about bitterness:  it usually starts creeping in when we begin focusing on what hasn’t be done for us rather than on Who we are doing it (whatever it is) for.

I know for a fact that’s a spiritual truth, but I think it’s a secular one as well.  Men get bitter when they focus on what they have to do for their wives rather than on the fact that they have brides to care for.  Women get bitter when they focus on what they have to do for their husbands and forget that they get to care for their knights in shining armor.

Who, rather than what…that’s the remedy for bitterness and, consequently, the first step in reclaiming joy.

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