Bitterness and The Christian Soul

by Matt LaMaster September 13, 2015

“There is a world of difference between pundits and prophets.” - Mark Sayers*

Our culture disciples its innocents in disillusionment. “Always ask ‘why?’” we tell our children. We celebrate an ethos of critique, where we are encouraged to put everything on trial. We always stand opposed. We actually celebrate this punk rock “Fight against the man!” attitude. But the funny thing about the “oppositional posture,” as Sayers calls it, is that this stance requires that which it demonizes to exist. For if you are always critical, then you need something to critique. And when your championed cause succeeds, when you have halted every initiative or defeated all your enemies, you are left… alone.

The Bible calls this bitterness. Bitterness is a profoundly nervous self-consciousness. It needs to put others down, bitterness needs others to look away. It is a constant diverting of attention away from oneself so nobody will observe fault within. Bitterness never invites critique… it only gives it. It always points to darkness in the room, but never shines the light on itself.

Are you bitter? Do you catch yourself only giving critique and never giving compliments? Do you find yourself reacting strongly to confrontation but all too willing to enact it yourself? Do you need to insert yourself into every conversation with a “truth-telling” bomb?

Friend, bitterness leaves you alone.

Was not the apostle loving when he pleaded with the Ephesians to purge their soul of this cancer (Eph 4:31-32)? The beautiful thing about the cross is that it is the final condemnation from a God with no darkness at all. Bitterness is not something to celebrate, but we can celebrate that the perfect critique of the world was made at the cross. And because, by faith, we stand justified, we need no longer condemn.

Will you leave your bitterness in his nail-pierced palms? I pray so.

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*Mark Sayers, Facing Leviathan (Chicago, Moody Publishers; 2014) 157.

 

This post was originally posted on Thinkcredo.org.