Hurt, Offense, Anger, Bitterness, never gets better on its own.

Over the last few months I have thought a lot about these sort of things. I know a few people that have had a chance to act out on these issues. They say that misery loves company – where does all of these things fit in with that adage?Pastor Walter Hallam taught a series on all of this years ago. The scripture reference he used was about the sycamine tree, this tree produces a fruit similar to a fig only the taste was very very bitter. The Sycamine tree is mentioned only in Luke 17:6.

The point also is the type of roots that the tree grows. This particular tree has roots that are gnarled and twisted and a single root of which is capable of starting a whole new tree.

Luke 17: 6And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

I have met strangers – total random people that are christians. Once they hear I am a christian and then something happens – the strangeness vanishes and suddenly in a distant sense we know we are family.

The next thing you know we are catching up on how we got to where we are – through the love and Grace of God and the ups and the downs. One such time it was a man on the train in Ireland, myself and a friend Mark O’Mahoney were on our way to Dublin from Graystones. We had a wonderful time sharing testimonies and all the amazing things that God had done for us… so much so that the others on the train with us were leaning in to catch the conversation. That sort of thing happens when you start talking about healing and miracles and so forth. I always take note of when that happens cause its good to be able to turn the conversation… with that in mind i was disappointed to where the conversation went next.

So where you heading to in Dublin? the man asked us.

Well the long answer was I was going to meet up with my future wife at her church Victory Christian Centre… however I didn’t go into all of that. Before I could speak Mark chimed in telling the man that we were heading to the church service at Victory.

Victory?! Victory??!!! Don’t tell me your going to Victory Christian Centre!!!! Let me tell you about that place!!

And so the tirade began… volumes of bitterness and hate poured out where recently the praises of God came from.

After he finished he looked at us as if to see if somehow we were convinced not to go to the church then. I just said it was nice talking to you – and turned around. He made angry mad upset noises and harrumphed to himself and turned around as well. The man that was with Mr Bitterness was embarrassed as was I and Mark…. I was hoping to use what we had built up to – to share Jesus with other people around us… that was blown up fast.

Well we went to Victory and had a great time… I got to see my future wife and so on and so forth…. but back to the point.
James 3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

Bitterness and regret and hurt has a voice – its obvious to the people in the train that morning when it started talking – disgust and anger takes over a happy countenance and soon what was a quiet conversation has turned into a single person shouting and vomiting words of offense and hate all over you.

Bitterness and offense is an injury that is never allowed to heal. The human mind is a complex computer – things it cannot file away properly that are major events or thoughts get replayed again and again and again in the mind until it is dealt with and forgotten or remembered and rehashed until its a trauma to the psyche.

The Bible talks about David having these issues in Psalms 40:2 it talks about the Horrible pit that David was delivered from. In essence a echo chamber or room of noise. David is talking about his thoughts in his own head that God was able to deliver him from. Psalms 40:2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

Bitterness is like a bitter fruited tree that has roots that dig in deep and are hard to dig out.

Why deal with hurt and offense? Why not just ignore it and feel justified right or wrong in what you did, said, or spew on others? Matthew 18:15
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

This is Jesus talking about offense. He says to deal with it. Not let it fester and boil like a sore until its so painful and infected that it cannot be dealt with.

In my short time on the planet so far I have ran into too many bitter people… I swear they all put on the same voice and snarl at you in the same way regardless of the nationality and accent.
Pompous self Justification for holding onto the hurt and taking every opportunity to spread it. It is literally like peeling off the scab of a barely dried wound and making it bleed all over again.

5 years 15 years 20 years later you still have not moved on and grown past it… you mention the name of the person place or thing that offended you and the bitterness is fresh as the day you decided to keep it.

Yes, Bitterness is a choice. Its not justifiable to keep hurt and offense if Jesus tells you to deal with it. Old and New Testament also talk about how when you have an issue with a brother that God will not accept your prayers or sacrifice until you deal with the issue.Matthew 5:24 – Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

You hear that offended christian? Deal with the bitterness, deal with the issue – or God won’t answer your prayers…. ouch!

Looking at a bit more of Matthew 5 – 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

Some of the things – ridiculous things people make up as well to justify their bitterness in the secular world would be enough for a law suit for Defamation and slander – yet we overlook these things in the Christian world.
Worse yet are the people that listen to such nonsense and believe it. Believing every word out of the mouth of someone in such a case soon has you half offended at the issue as well.

Deal with the offense. Deal with the hurt. Years later the person place or thing has moved on and does not give you a second thought after dealing with the issue the right way – your still hurt.

Jesse Duplantis tells the story of a woman that came up to him after a meeting… She told him about how her father used to verbally abuse her and put her down and how she has never been able to get past those issues.
Jesse mentioned the fact that it could be termed as child abuse and there is no statute of limitations in the USA about that sort of thing and she should take him to the police – She stopped him and told him – No no… he died years ago. She was still being controlled by the thoughts and issues of her childhood because the hurt and offense was never dealt with.

Yes – Granted it is very easy to say Deal with it… Get over it… Move on.
However it is harder to get past and to grow from those experiences. In a very real sense it is an injury and a wound and a bruise when hurt – offense – and bitterness occurs.

Bitterness is what develops when the hurt and offense is not dealt with.

That Sicamine tree started as a seed. Before that – it needed a patch of ground to be cultivated to grow in. Before that – something had to happen to dig in to the ground to make the ground ready for seeding.

We humans in our ego and emotions and opinions put so much of ourselves exposed to others in our normal day to day dealings that it is easy to get our fair share of cuts and scrapes.

Lately I have found that if I am tired I will walk right into doors sometimes and not even realize it. Who is to blame? Just me not the door. Its my fault that I was overly tired and not paying attention.

When we get hurt we tend to blame others. Its human nature. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are passing the blame even when its pointed out to us. At Kids camp this past year my wife and myself watched events unfold where one kid would accidentally trip and fall because they were not paying attention – only to hurt another kid by accident. When they one that caused the hurt looked around – he would quickly point to another kid that had nothing to do with the indecent and say “he pushed me its his fault”

These are traits that we picked up long ago as part of our fallen nature. We never want to blame ourselves for the issues and problems we have in life. Most every issue would be solved if only we dealt with them and talked them over with those involved… yet hurt and offense blind you to this simple solution and try to get you to cultivate the hurt even more. The “I am not going to talk to them about that… I did nothing wrong… they should come to me and on my terms to get that sorted out!”
We humans tend to wear our emotions on our sleeve when it comes to this sort of thing.
Ego steps in and makes it an issue so big that you cannot get passed the issues but can’t deal with them either.

Just about a hundred years ago people used to duel with pistols if a slight offense occurred between to people. A fight to the death! I bet your ego would love that today. Thank God that sort of thing is outlawed now – with todays issues and incomprehensible ego trips and sensibilities we would have a fraction of the population in the world just from road rage – let alone person to person relationships.

So this hurt – how do you get rid of it before it festers?

Just like a real life physical injury – it has to be medicated and properly seen to.
The first step – right or wrong – is to forgive the person or persons that hurt you and caused the injury to your ego. Most often people don’t even know they hurt you in the way that you feel you were hurt. The injury is yours.

The maturity side of things comes in to play at this point. Are you grown up enough to work out what happened – why you became upset at things and to deal with it in a responsible way? Or will you just like a child – point to the first person that comes to mind and say its their fault not mine.

But Joseph your saying now – I can hear you clearly thinking it even… “They did it on purpose” “I am right and they are wrong” “They should have known it would upset me” And so on and so on…

Our egos will hardly ever ever tell us we are wrong – Our conscience will always be overcome by our emotions and self justification.

So – the bible teaches us that if there is an issue between you and someone else to deal with it… get it sorted and move on – forgiving them and getting on with what you have to do. Do we do that in reality? Often times we do not.

Bob Yandian tells the story of when he first got settled in to being a pastor. He said the amount of issues and picking and squabbling that he heard was unreal. One such occasion he said he saw a woman who had stopped coming to church and just went over to say hi and see how she was doing. She eventually told him that the reason that she stopped coming to church was she didn’t like the color of the carpet.

Offense and bitterness will grow over the smallest and silliest things – let alone deep down meaningful things. Often you will find that the big things people get upset about all started over small things that were never dealt with.

So your hurt – you didn’t deal with the hurt and things got worse. Now your looking for any and every reason to find fault with a person place or thing. And if you look for faults you will find them – even down to the color of the carpet. And you let them add up and build up until something breaks inside you… your common sense usually.

At that moment you will find that things that matter deepest to you and you want to get them right… if things don’t happen just the way you want it to or imagine that it will… you follow the hurt and offense to the next step and not your common sense.

The still small voice on the inside tells you one thing – but you follow the one that makes your ego feel good and your feelings hurt even more and you feed that anger and bitterness to the next progression.

Your sicamine tree grows fruit – and you have a bumper crop!
You know the hurt and offense so well now that you seek it out. You share your fruit with everything and everyone willing to even take a bite of it… and what do you know – the bitterness grows and spreads. People take your offense and are just as upset about it as you are and it didn’t even happen to them! Thats a great product you have there. Too bad that it will keep eating away at you until you deal with it.

5 years from now… 20 years… mention the name of the person that hurt you or the event… its as fresh as ever. Bile and bitterness will spew forth like a drunk that had one too many. That my friend is the evidence that something is not right.
And until you deal with it. It will never get better.