The Effects of Bitterness and Unforgiveness
Last week’s blog introduced the difficulties of living life with resentment and burdens of unforgiveness. If you haven’t read the previous blog entry, I suggest you do so today’s entry will make more sense. I introduced the idea or metaphor of driving a bus around in our life in which we have thrown people on who have offended, hurt or sinned against us in some form or fashion. Thus, we are hate bus drivers. At some point in our lives we carry a bus load of people around with us everywhere we go. We can’t move away from them because they travel with us. I’d like to look at some of the effects, driving our hate bus around full of those folks who’ve offended us, has on on our lives.
The apostle John said in I John 2:11, "But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him."
When we resent and hold on to bitterness a cloud of darkness begins to envelop us. It’s not very complicated; it just creates blind spots in our lives. That’s what darkness does. Because of the fact we are in the darkness we cannot see and don't know where we are going. I want to give you two short pieces of advice when you are living around and/or dealing with a person who is in the darkness brought on by bitterness. One, stay out of his way, he will run over you with his bus. He likes to think he sees where he is going, but relationally and emotionally, he will drive his bus right over the top of you. Secondly, I wouldn't follow him, if I were you, because he is reckless. He has little direction, he may drive his bus fast, he may drive it in circles, he may look very, very active and busy and appear to have purpose in his life. However, because of the darkness in his life (that is brought on by the bitterness and the unforgiveness in his heart) he doesn't know where he is going. If you are an employer, this is not a good person to hire to work with your employees. People ultimately won't follow him. He is a very difficult leader.
The apostle John goes on to say in verse 20, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen."
Have you ever thought there was a link between dishonesty, lack of integrity, and deceitfulness to having a heart full of unforgiveness? It’s one of the reasons people who lie a lot tend to blame others a lot as well. They usually feel a great deal of pain for the ways they were previously hurt, neglected, abused, and generally offended. Lying is a way of managing our image and trying to control our world without having to feel vulnerable. Hurt people don’t ever want to feel vulnerable. Sandra Wilson wrote a book entitled, Hurt People Hurt People. The title is worth the price of the book but it’s a great book also. I see it all the time. Bitter people lie more than folks who do not have much unforgiveness in their hearts.
Because of the fact that he lies, he cannot be trusted, at least not fully or absolutely. He not only can't be fully trusted, he is hard to get close to. Do you live with someone or are you around someone you have a difficult time getting close to? It may have nothing to do with you, it may very well have more to do with the darkness, the bitterness, and the hypocrisy in his life. The ensuing guilt, shame, and the conviction by the Holy Spirit is causing him to keep you from getting close. A bitter person is hard to build a relationship with.
Eventually the bitterness and resentment create a hardened heart. Think of a person’s heart being like a garden. The garden needs nourishment like nutrients and water. What happens to that garden when it goes for an extended time without water? Obviously the soil becomes hardened. When you pour water on a garden that is parched the water runs right off, without soaking in. That is just like our bus drivers’ heart: you seek to provide love and he won't receive the love. The water goes on the heart and then runs off the edge. The second thing about a hardened heart is even though he has a difficult time receiving love, he is very, very thirsty for love and his hard heart begins to distort and impair his judgment (which keeps him from being able to tell the difference between pure and impure water). When someone comes along with impure water, he is so thirsty that he will receive it even though it may poison that which he wants to grow in his heart. He has a hard heart. The effects of a hard heart are huge and are often far removed in one’s mind from the initial cause of that hardness in the first place.
I want to emphasize that the bus driver is me and the bus driver is you, he is all of us. Next week we’ll look at those passengers on our bus. That’s my favorite part of this story. Our passengers are very interesting people. That’s one of the reasons we like keeping them around.
God bless you. I welcome your comments. Have a great day. Matt.