Heaven's Arsenal: "Growing The Power of Love - By Overcoming Bitterness" (continued)
As was discussed in Part 9 of this series, 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.
So how can we keep the root of bitterness from developing in our souls? The best way is - prevention. It is better to prayerfully prevent ourselves from becoming bitter in the first place, than to fight to overcome it once its there.
Preventing bitterness from developing requires us to suffer with Grace. When that church member says that gossipy thing about us that undercuts our reputations, we need to suffer through that with Grace. When that difficult neighbor oversteps their bounds, we need to respond to the trial with Grace, rather than bitterness. And so on...
So the big question is: How can we suffer with Grace, instead of becoming bitter?
To suffer with grace rather than becoming embittered, we need to respond to trials by using the acronym G.R.E.A.T. The letters for the acronym G.R.E.A.T. stand for steps that we may take which are Grace-filled responses to situations of suffering. Using G.R.E.A.T. keeps us from becoming bitter. So, here are the steps to a G.R.E.A.T. response:
G — Give Thanks
- The Bible tells us plainly that whether we’re in a happy or difficult situation, we are to still thank God for the GOOD He is accomplishing in this trial.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18— In every thing give thanks for this is the will of God… concerning you.
- Thanking God for the trial doesn’t mean we are thanking God for evil. It means that we have full faith in God’s promise to never allow anything to come our way unless He is using it for good. We are enabled to thank God for the benefits He is using this trial to produce.
- While giving thanks to God at the first onset of a trial is an act of will, true rejoicing is a spiritual response.
- In order to truly rejoice for the good which God is accomplishing in a trial, we must prayerfully identify its benefits. When we can identify the benefits God is bestowing in our suffering, we can really rejoice, rendering heartfelt praise to our Heavenly King.
- One of the biggest blessings hidden within each instance of suffering is God’s work to polish and perfect our characters (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Romans 8:18— ―For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
- When our Saviour faced trials, like the temptations in the wilderness, He responded by quoting appropriate Scripture. Claiming Scripture is a powerful way to build faith, enabling us to continue to suffer with grace, fully submitted to God.
- Romans 10:17— ...Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
- When we accept the trial, thank God, rejoice for the benefits He is accomplishing through it, and claim Scripture; we have the right attitude to appeal to God. It is appropriate to cry out to God to remove a trial. But, we should ask Him to remove it WHEN He has finished accomplishing the good He intended.
- Remain submitted to God, as you pray:
Heavenly Father, I am grateful to You that You have chosen me in this furnace of affliction. I do not wish to reject Your choosing process. Therefore, I ask You to strengthen me to endure this trial in a way that brings glory to Your Name. And I give You my permission to keep me in this trial, just as long as You have something good to accomplish by it. But, as soon as Your good work is finished, I ask You to remove this affliction and deliver me from this suffering, for Your Name’s sake. In Jesus’s Name I ask this, Amen.
- Psalm 107:13— Then they cried unto God in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.
- God wants us to respond to trials in a way that even benefits the lives of those who have oppressed us. This response is opposite to our natural hearts.
- Matthew 5:44 ―Love your enemies (with our heart and spirit), bless them that curse you (with our mouth) , do good to them that hate you (with our actions), and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
- Not only does it glorify God when we are kind and loving toward our “offenders,” but also God has promised to give a special reward to those who return good for evil.
- 1 Peter 3:8-9 ―Finally… be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.