Recently, I realized I was bitter.
Typically, I think of a bitter person as gritting their teeth with hatred, guilty of epicaricacy.
Epicaricacy means "Rejoicing at or deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others."
That’s definitely the worst stage of bitterness.
But there are lesser forms of bitterness that manifest as sadness, discouragement, irritability, and negativity. If we don’t deal with them, they can turn into "grit-your-teeth" bitterness.
Some subtle signs of bitterness:
1. Thinking about the offense often.
2. Having arguments with the offender in our thoughts.
Regarding thoughts: studies show that our normal rate of talking is 120 words a minute, but we can think at a rate of 1300 words a minute. In 5 minutes, we can fill our minds with massive amounts of negativity.
See The Power of Negative Self-Talk.
3. Repeatedly referring to our offense in conversations.
4. Making sarcastic remarks about our offender.
Regarding our words: Matthew 12:35: "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him."
Realizing I was guilty of some of these subtle forms of bitterness, I determined to do these things:
1. Every time I think of the offense, I’ll pray for my offender.
Matthew 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
See Set Your Mind or Set Your Alarm.
2. When a thought about the offense enters my mind, I’ll recite or read Scripture.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
See 3 Ways to Take Your Thoughts Captive.
3. Once I’ve shared the offense with my prayer partner, I won’t repeatedly talk about it.
Philippians 4:8-9: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
See Overcoming Negativity.
4. I won’t make sarcastic or caustic remarks about the person.
Colossians 4:6: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
See If You Can't Say Anything Nice, Do What Mom Said.
If you have any of these subtle signs of bitterness, I encourage you to deal with your bitterness now.