Resurrection Greetings to you in the name of Jesus!

Christ’s death and resurrection are behind us now. However, as we journey through the days before Pentecost, God’s Holy Word helps us to understand what Christ has done for us and how we can respond in Christ-like ways. This month we will focus on God’s precious and Holy Word as it pertains to Bitterness. With the help from our friends at Ambassadors of Reconciliation (www.His AoR.org), last fall I led a study on bitterness with our weekly Bible class. May we each, through God’s Holy Spirit, learn, grow, and respond to God’s will and allow His Spirit, through the passages contained here, remove any bitterness from our hearts, minds, words, and actions. From Ephesians . . .

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.— Ephesians 4:31-32

Billy Graham once said, “Anger and bitterness (as well as hatred, jealousy and resentment – their offspring) are not identical but they are closely related. Bitterness is anger gone sour, an attitude of deep discontent that poisons our souls and destroys our peace.” And so it is, when you are offended or disappointed by others and allow the hurt to germinate in your heart, bitterness and resentment may take root. Someone has said that a bitter, sour Christian is one of Satan’s greatest trophies. He thrives on bitterness and un-forgiveness.

Further, if you are not repentant of your sins, you eat the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner and will be guilty concerning the body and blood of Christ.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.— 1Cor. 11:27

Those who are not sorry for their sins do not and cannot receive forgiveness of sins. Those who have no desire to forgive others and (with the help of the Holy Spirit) change their sinful lives, do not and cannot receive forgiveness of sins. These are serious cautions/concerns for us all.

We also hear in Luther’s Small Catechism,

You shall not murder. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need. In this commandment, our Lord forbids us to keep anger and hatred in our hearts against our neighbor. (cf. Matt. 5:22, 1John 3:15). In this commandment, our Lord requires us to be merciful and forgiving towards our neighbor.— (cf. Eph 4:32, Matt. 5:5,7,9)

People who have a root of bitterness find it easy to get upset over things others are doing/saying. It’s like a brewing fountain that lies beneath the surface, waiting to fuel anger, hatred, resentment and other negative emotions against one’s self, others or the circumstances around them. They seldom are at peace and seek to drag others down – toward their bitter, skewed points-of-view.

Careless words, anger, and bitterness originate or take root in the heart. In order to bring forth the fruits of faith and to live a life characterized by love and generosity, the heart must be cleansed. A clean heart is one that in all humility confesses sin and clings to Christ, and Christ alone, for pardon and peace. Such a heart will find peace and bring forth good fruit.

With the Psalmist we pray, [qoute name=”Psalm 51:10″]Create in me a clean heart O God.[/quote]

God bless you throughout this Easter season . . . and in the year to come!
Pastor