A man who had been bitten by a rattlesnake was rushed to the hospital. When he asked the doctor, “Is it life-threatening?” the doctor said, “The bite isn’t, but the poison is.”
The “bites” you suffer at the hands of others are painful and upsetting, but they’re not lethal. What happens to you normally doesn’t destroy you, but what happens in you afterwards can. Like venom, bitterness first poisons your mind, then your relationships. It causes you to replay the hurt until it controls you, stealing the future God planned for you. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can overcome bitterness. God says, “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others.” And what God commands, He will give you the grace to do. When Peter asked Jesus, “Should I forgive my brother seven times?” Jesus said, “no, you must forgive him seventy times seven” (See Mt 18:21-22). In other words, “Forgive, and keep on forgiving until it no longer bothers you.” What causes bitterness? Anger that’s allowed to take residence in your thought-life. God’s purpose for anger is to motivate you to tap into His power for solving problems; otherwise they become permanent. Solving the problem resolves and relieves your anger. But anger can become long-term bitterness when you fixate on “who did it to me,” making you hostile, critical, blaming and punitive. You say, “Can I really stop my anger?” Yes, with God’s help you can control your reactions and behaviors, and starve anger to death. “The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control” (Gal 5:22-23 NIV).
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