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. Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV
Cancer. I looked up on the internet how many different kinds of cancer there are, and one source stated there are over 100 different kinds. Everyone knows a friend, acquaintance, or family member they love that one day will be diagnosed with this dreaded disease. Billions have been spent on research for a cure and with some success, we hear reports of “in remission” or “cancer free”. Cancer reminds us more directly how fragile life can be, and in many cases it cuts short desires of long life. Sin is the cancer of the soul; and if you total up how many different types of sin cancers there are, I’m sure it would exceed the number of physical cancers. Sin cancer will rob you of life just as physical cancer, but the difference is that there is a one hundred percent cure for the cancer of sin. While the healing process is immediate concerning the death attached to sin, we will take spiritual treatments the rest of our life in doses given by the Holy Spirit.
Today, we will look at the cancer of bitterness that deprives a life of love, joy, and peace. Have you ever read on a label “this ingredient has been known to cause cancer”? What ingredient of thought have you ingested into your mind that causes bitterness to grow? You desire wrath to fall on someone who has hurt you…You want vengeance!!! You may be consumed with anger at someone who said they would never leave you but did. Your mind is overloaded with the noise and clamor of injustice done to you. You might even say slanderous things about a person or people just to satisfy the bitterness that consumes you because of the pain they caused in your life. In the worst case scenario, you would like to cause them malice which is physical or mental harm. I have read that we all have cancer cells in our body. I know that without exception we all have the sin cancer in our minds. So the sin of bitterness can overtake anyone who has been treated cruelly, unjustly, with ingratitude, or fill in the blank for your own life circumstance. Bitterness can only thrive in your life when you dwell on whatever caused it to begin. So how do you overcome it? The treatment for bitterness may not be easy at first but you must remember that it is for yourself that you are seeking healing from this cancer of sin. A sin cancer that is robbing you of the life that God wants you to have abundantly.
First, we must make the decision to be kind…. Repay no evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceable with all. Romans 12:17-18 ESV You cannot control how another person conducts themselves or behaves but you can choose how you conduct yourself. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 ESV…… I told you it wasn’t going to be easy, especially when you are fighting bitterness. The place to start in being kind is to pray for them. This is what Jesus did when they were crucifying him. Remember his words? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 ESV
Second, be tenderhearted…. This is a heart that is teachable. As a vine grows you can take the tender branches and direct them in the direction you choose them to go. But when it has grown, the vine becomes thick and harder to train. So it is with our hearts. If our heart become hard, it becomes more difficult to go in the direction we know that is right. The Bible is God’s word, and it directs us in how we should live to bring Him glory. Sometimes that may even be painful. As the gardner prunes the vine, so God may prune us to reroute the direction of our life. Jesus said,” I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2 ESV ….
Third, forgive one another…. Forgiveness is not something we do because the person deserves it; it is something we do because we have been told to do so by God. It is more difficult to forgive than it is to hold a grudge. Yet the grudge robs you of love, joy, and peace because the grudge keeps replaying the offense over and over in your mind. One reason we are told to forgive is: it is freeing us to live again. It is impossible to harbor a grudge and true love, joy and peace in your life at the same time. He told us to forgive as He has forgiven us. (as God in Christ forgave you) You might say, “You don’t know what I’ve been thorough or what a certain person has done to me” and you might be right. But I also know that God calls us to live differently than the world. He calls us to live differently so that others might see something different in us that will cause them to hopefully evaluate why. We do so that they might receive a glimpse of Jesus in the darkness of their life. In other words we reflect the light/love of Jesus who did for us when we did not deserve it. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would even dare die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-9 ESV
Do not try to do all the above in your own strength for you will surely fail. Rather cry out to God for strength and know that as stated in scripture, “I can do all thing through Christ which strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 ESV Pray the Holy Spirit will give you a treatment to kill the sin cancer of bitterness, enabling you to experience the abundant life of love , joy, and peace.
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David