Bitterness and Retaliation
Bitterness is another defilement of the spirit that can wreck a Christian. It happens when we don’t trust in the sovereign rule of God in our lives. Joseph’s story shows us how we should act. He had every reason to be bitter: unjustly thrown into a well by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused by his master’s immoral wife, but he never lost site of the fact that God was in control of all that happened to him and at the end good came of it.
He told his brothers in Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Bitterness toward God is because we think He’s being unfair. Bitterness toward people is the result of an unforgiving spirit. Someone has wronged us and we refuse to forgive them. And that makes us like the servant who having just been forgiven the debt of millions refuses to forgive a debt of a few dollars and throws his fellow servant into prison.
Retaliation is another sin of the spirit. Paul said in Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Leave it to God! We often tell our kids when they come to us about how mean and unfair someone is treating them, “You be the one who’s good. You set the example!” Well, that’s what our Father tells us too!
We need to pray daily for humility and honesty to see these sinful attitudes for what they really are and for the grace and discipline to root them out of our minds and replace them with thoughts that please God.