Heaven's Arsenal: "Growing The Power of Love - By Overcoming Bitterness" (continued)
Unless we can overcome bitterness, by God's Grace, we will never be effective spiritual warriors. Bitterness undercuts all that God is working to accomplish in us.
The first step in overcoming bitterness is getting a new attitude - a godly perspective on suffering. When we have a right view of suffering, we will not fall prey to becoming bitter when others become sources of suffering in our lives. So, let's take a moment to look at suffering from a Biblical perspective that we may lose all traces of the "victim mentality", becoming more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
We first partake of Christ's sufferings before we may have the joy of full fellowship withHim or partake in His glory (2 Tim. 2:12).
“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings…” Philippians 3:10
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you... But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
Suffering isn’t an unusual experience, in the life of a Christian. The Bible tells us that all who live for God will suffer (2 Timothy 3:12). The Scriptures also assure us that “all things work together for good” in the lives of those who love God (Romans 8:28). This means that God allows suffering into our lives only when it is for a good purpose. Suffering produces several good results:
- Suffering strengthens our characters—1 Peter 5:10
- Suffering delivers us from materialism and focus our attention on what (and who) really matters —Philippians 3:8
- Suffering destroys our attraction for sinful habits. Thus, suffering is the pain which comes in order for true healing to take place—1 Peter 4:1
- Suffering is the method God uses to “choose” us as His own, as the Bible states in the following verses:
“...Many be called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:16
“...I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him…” 2 Timothy 2:12
If we fail God’s tests of suffering and do not respond to them in a submitted and Christ-centered manner, we will become embittered by these experiences rather than tasting triumph.
When fiery trials come our way, like Job of old, we have an opportunity to pass through the experience of suffering in a way that pleases and glorifies God. This is what it means to suffer with grace.
However if, instead of looking with humble submission to God, we focus our attention on the human instrument who “caused” our suffering, we will become angry and embittered towards the “offender.” When we permit the “gall” of bitterness to develop, our soul becomes poisoned (Acts 8:23). Thus, we miss out on the “good” that our Heavenly Father was attempting to accomplish through the trial. Should bitterness be allowed to persist, it is a spiritual cancer that ultimate erodes our relationship with God.
1 John 4:20-21 “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Ephesians 4:30-32 “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”