The Poison of Bitterness Within Us

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. Eph 4: 31-32 ESV

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7: 12 ESV

There is a strange ethic today, one of disrespect. It springs from a demand for respect. It’s a tunnel vision respect–a one way street. Yet it goes in two directions.

It’s a mentality that says, “I don’t have to respect you because you don’t respect me. Or my cause. Or the ax I am grinding today. Or [fill in the blank].” It doesn’t matter if you lean left or right in your politics. If you reject faith in God or hold to it. There are two roads of discourse and only those who agree are allowed on a highway.

It’s hard to pinpoint when it all began. Perhaps it was some time after a president advised us to, “Ask not what your country could do for you.” That difficulty of finding a starting point would indicate a gradual slide into the morass of accusations, name calling, and violence.

We have to admit, we have done it to ourselves. As affluence rose, faithfulness fell. That includes faithfulness to grace and civility among those who name Christ as Savior.

Our children learned evolution, that we are just an animal species, not the image of God. Judeo-Christian principles became a foreign language.

Children of the left and right alike embraced the new freedom–sexual license and freedom from responsibility–and the wounds that come with them. Such an embrace of sin leads to a stumbling into another sin snare, obnoxious self-righteousness.

Remember the conversation on social media over the US Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision? Christians and others of like conscience would not have to pay for abortion inducing “birth control.” The “opposition” was most unreasonable in its insistence that conscience should not determine what services women are “entitled to.”

The argument heightened when Dobbs overturned Roe.

On the other side, “our side,” David Aikman discussed the reaction of Christians to an atheist book. Believers became “self-appointed attack dogs of Christendom. They seem determined to savage not only opponents of Christianity, but also fellow believers of whose doctrinal positions they disapprove.”

“The attacks, moreover, are not reasoned or modestly couched criticism, but blasts of ire determined to discredit beyond redemption the targets of the criticism.”

We’ve forgotten we are to love our enemies. We’ve lost our ability to disagree reasonably, to engage in civil discourse.

We have more than two options. Instead of caving to unbiblical demands or responding with anger and name-calling, we can speak truth calmly and with reasoned argument.

We have the truth on our side. Using venom in our response will not win over others. It simply passes the poison down to the next generation only partly by our example.

For children on both sides, we boosted their self-esteem. We encouraged unhampered self-expression without requiring effort, accomplishment, and compassion for others.

We overspent on comfort and luxury. The government overspent. When the crash of 2008 came, many–least of all the government–did not curb spending. Personal debt is nearly as high as it was then. Our national debt has “surged” to previously unimaginable heights.

We have created monsters of entitlement. They are ourselves. There is a material sense of entitlement. But there is also a sense of entitlement to be obnoxious.

Christians are as guilty as anyone. Guiltier yet, because to be obnoxious is to be disobedient. And there is a crop to harvest from all this obnoxious, entitlement thinking.

New US Senator JD Vance correctly understands that Americans “look to the future more with frustration and fear than with hope and optimism.”

A Gallup poll supports that view. American’s have a “mostly gloomy outlook for the U.S. as majorities predict negative conditions in 12 of 13 economic, political, societal and international arenas.”

No wonder we’re cranky.

Perhaps our venom is inevitable. The economy aside, there had to be a point where more comfort and a higher quality of life, would be unattainable. There is a saturation point to luxury and pleasure. We’ve surpassed it and are reaping its results.

A primary result is that we stopped being grateful for what we have. We’ve grown to expect more. We expect to get and keep what we enjoy. And that it should never be threatened. We’ve convinced ourselves the party will never end.

As our personal kingdoms totter, we become bitter, angry, even afraid. Our sense of self-regard has toppled regard for our neighbor.

Shouting at him seems okay now.

We had so much to lose, we lost our very selves.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Plan

Their lives were set.

They had worked at their jobs all their lives.

They thought they knew which way life would turn for the rest of their days.

There was a hope for Messiah, in their minds a political savior, to free them from the Romans. But mostly there was routine, the everydayness of work and home.

Then they met Him. Perhaps He was the one. the one who would save them from the oppression of Rome. That was their plan.

They were fishermen and a tax collector, the tax collector recruited to stop working for Rome, to find a higher cause. Surely overcoming the earthly oppression of Rome was the plan.

The disciples listened. They followed. They believed.

They still thought political freedom was the plan.

Then one betrayed Him. Another denied Him. One stayed close to the end. The rest scattered. They watched their plan end.

They watched their plan die.

The fishermen returned to their boats, back to the routine, back to the everydayness of every day.

Life would be as it had been, as if He’d never lived.

Then He arose. Rome stayed, but His followers changed.

They received fire from heaven.

They were never the same.

That was His plan.

They turned the world upside down.

His plan.

His rising, a lie?

You may say so, but who dies for a lie?

Only one disciple would not be killed for believing Him who said, “Follow Me.”

That one would suffer exile and write his encounters with Him whom he’d followed at the cost of all else–all else but eternal gain.

All else but God’s plan.

This plan remains today.

To show us how to follow Him.

To make us never the same.

His way through His plan.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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