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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading
Today we begin reading in the book of Philippians and we will continue our short series on eradicating bitterness. As it says in Philippians 1:6 - Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the Day of Yahshua Christ."
One vital part of that "good work" which Yahweh is doing in each of us is removing every root of bitterness.
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."
Yahshua gave us seven keys to conquering bitterness, which are contained in seven of His Commands. Exercising these keys (by His Grace) is wearing the Helmet and Breastplate effectively against becoming bitter.
So what are the seven keys to conquering bitterness? Yesterday, I only discussed the first key. Today, we'll continue starting with the second key, which is "Be a Servant of all". Again, these keys (when appearing in the list) may seem strange and unrelated to overcoming bitterness, but bear with me as I will explain how living by these Commands of Messiah is effective against the soul-poison of bitterness:
Key #2: Be a Servant of All
The Command of Christ regarding being servants is found in Matthew 23:11-12. How does this apply to bitterness? Consider the following example:
A husband was bitter at his wife for failing to carry out his instruction. When he heard that husbands should not be bitter towards their wives (1 Peter 3:7). He became convicted and forgave her. But, she didn’t change. She continued to offend him in this area. Soon he was bitter at her again – his forgiveness was not working!
Expectations destroy relationships. They are like bars of a prison that we put around those whom we expect to serve us. Expectations are also bars of a prison of bitterness that put around ourselves when others fail to fulfill our expectations. We are not able to fully love someone as long as we have unfulfilled expectations of them. Genuine love focusing on giving to the needs of others. Expectations focus on getting what we think we need for ourselves.
•True service is “hoping for nothing again” Luke 6:35
•Expectations must be given to God, as we told in Psalm 62:5 “My soul wait thou ONLY UPON YAHWEH; for my expectation is of HIM.”
Key #3: Deny Yourself
Yahshua requires all those who want to follow Him to deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Him (Mark 8:34). Denying ourselves is renouncing the wrong desires of our souls, such as indulgence in bitterness.
When Yahshua said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My Sake shall find it,” (Matthew 16:26), He used the Greek word pseuche for life. This word has the same meaning as the word “SOUL”. It is in our soul that the battle takes place between our flesh and our spirit. If we lose the battle in our souls, we will experience anger, guilt, lust, bitterness, greed, fear, and envy.
The word “deny” (in Matthew 16:25) is translated from the Greek word aparneomai. It involves a voluntary putting away, to remove from oneself, to refuse, disown, decline, or withdraw from fellowship.
When we relate this to our souls – the meaning of the word life – we find that this means we are to deny our souls the “right” to become bitter by not allowing our minds, wills or emotions to run in an embittering vein.
Key #4: Love Your Neighbors
The next key to overcoming bitterness is found in Christ's Command to love our neighbors. This injunction involves loving people, even when they wrong you.
Love for Yahweh and others is the essence of all the Law, because “love worketh no ill to his neighbor” Romans 13:8-10.
With this command there is absolutely no grounds for bitterness, because Yahshua laid down His Life for us when we were His enemies. Loving all others is how we conquer the source of bitterness.
But learning to love others, especially those who do wrong to us, is much harder to put in practice than it is to write about on paper! Peter gave us a spiritual "ladder" for Christian character development. In that ladder, love is the final rung - which is only fully accomplished when the earlier rungs are first addressed:
One of the most powerful steps in loving and gaining a forgiving spirit toward our offenders is going the extra mile for them. This means that we are to voluntarily invest something of our time, talents, or resources into the life of our offender, for where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also (Matthew 6:21).
In Christ’s day, the Roman soldiers could command a male twelve years old or older to carry his military pack for one mile in any direction. Many Jews resented this. To them, it was just one more way the dictatorial Roman empire dominated them. But, Christ taught that rather than just going the required one mile, His followers were to go two (Matthew 5:38-40). This command goes dipolar opposite to our natural response to injustice! But the Bible warns that our natural responses are usually wrong (Proverbs 14:12).
But, in the principle of going the extra mile, we reclaim our joy in Yahweh, and truly overcome the last vestiges of bitterness! It is also not until we go the “second mile” so-to-speak, that we have opportunities to witness to our offenders. Thus, we should pray and seek the Father’s insights as to how we can invest some voluntary “treasure” in the lives of our offenders. And as we do so, we find a window of Heaven opens flooding us with divine grace to triumph amid the suffering.