Bitterness: a feeling of anger and resentment, caused particularly by perceived unfairness in suffering or by adverse circumstances.
Grace (in human relationships): undeserved favor or kindness, mercy, compassion and generosity. Strongly encouraged in Scripture. See examples: Ru 2:10; 2Sa 9:1-7; Acts 28:2; Gen 33:8-11; Jos 2:12; 1Sa 15:6, 24:18; 1Ki 2:7; Ps 37:25-26; Ac 4:8-10; 1Co 4:13
It seems so easy for us to become bitter. At times we don’t even know it’s happening. We just keep stuffing those unwanted feelings (that we may believe are inappropriate) way down deep inside, burying them where we hope they’ll stay in darkness and never resurface. At other times we feed our bitterness as though it were a plant or a pet. We knowingly, even purposefully, bring to mind some perceived slight, or an event that upset us or made us angry. We rerun that tape in our head, over and over again ~ and the hurt, the anger, the bitterness, grows larger and larger, until our heart begins to harden. The worst part is that whether we consciously feed the bitterness or not, it is still there, growing ~ and we run the risk of being consumed by it.
When bitterness threatens to overtake me, I must remember that I have a Lord and Savior who understands. Would it not have been exceedingly easy for Jesus to feel bitterness toward those whose desire was to harm him? And those who crucified him? And what about Peter, who, in just a matter of hours after telling Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37) denied and disowned Jesus three times ~ on the day of Jesus’ death by crucifixion, no less!?
Jesus was not bitter ~ after His resurrection from the grave He even restored Peter and commanded Peter to feed His sheep (teach about Jesus).
God’s Word tells us,
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ~ Ephesians 4: 31-32
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. ~ Hebrews 12: 14-15
Extending grace to someone who has hurt me is not easy. At times it seems a difficult and almost impossible task. It’s work. Too often it’s work I don’t want to do. But it is necessary. That root of bitterness will never be dug up, eradicated, killed, and not allowed to grow or possibly even consume me unless I willingly do the work.
Jesus already did the most difficult work of all ~ He died, and rose again, that I, that we, may have eternal life with and in Him!
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins……But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:1, 4-7 (emphasis mine)