Bitterness is not a fruit of the Spirit. I am sure of this. I checked my Bibles, both King James and New Revised King James. There ain’t nothing there about bitterness, but boy, does it seep in! In fact, the way many of us walk through life, you might believe that bitterness is a central tenet to humanity.
It is not. Rather, bitterness does not have to be a central tenet to humanity. To be clear, being bitter is not the same as being angry. Anger is certainly a scary word and place to be. Anger can be destructive and abusive, but that is generally after letting it simmer at bitter for 20 years. Anger should energize us into action. Anger is meant to move us to react or respond or change.
Instead we will stifle anger, somehow confusing that with long suffering or endurance. Uh, yeah, that is a big no. If you stifle anger, you get bitter. If you get bitter, well, the joy gets sucked right out of you for some reason. Then you start the muttering, griping, and the ceaseless, useless criticizing. You feel like: “what’s the point in even saying anything now? Nothing will change. Nothing gets better.”
Bitterness leads to hopelessness. Bitterness sucks energy from you and everyone around you. You begin to think, “Sure, every now and then something good happens, but not really, not for me”. You stop seeing the world around you. You stop caring, even about yourself. Sometimes you will give something a try because you have nothing to lose. But having nothing to lose is not the same as being hopeful. You need to get down to the root of the bitterness- that anger. You need to deal with it.
You need to figure out what you are angry about and work to change it. That anger can be a scary place because we have been taught over and over again not to be angry because we might hurt someone. The truth is that unresolved and unexpressed anger is what hurts people. Living with that bitterness, either as the owner of that attitude or anyone around that attitude, causes people to suffer.
Life is too beautiful to be bitter. There is entirely too much to be thankful for in this world to be bitter. Certainly this world will make you angry, but maybe that anger will encourage you to help in the creation of Kingdom of God. It will be in that work that you will see that hope and joy and beauty because it is there.