Lt. Dan: Now, you listen to me. We all have a destiny. Nothing just happens, it’s all part of a plan. I should have died out there with my men! But now, I’m nothing but a goddamned cripple! A legless freak. Look! Look! Look at me! Do you see that? Do you know what it’s like not to be able to use your legs?
Forrest: Well… Yes, sir, I do.
Lt. Dan: Did you hear what I said? You cheated me. I had a destiny. I was supposed to die in the field! With honor! That was my destiny! And you cheated me out of it! You understand what I’m saying, Gump? This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not to me. I had a destiny. I was Lieutenant Dan Tyler.
Forrest: Yo-You’re still Lieutenant Dan.
Heb. 12:15, “Be careful lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…”
As you read this today are you feeling angry or hurt, resentful because of a bad experience you’ve recently had in your church? Do you feel unjustly treated…by people, by God? The writer of Hebrews says, be careful. That’s good advice.
It doesn’t shock me to find a pastor who is bitter. What surprises me is that I don’t find more. If any occupation sets one up for bitterness it’s the pastorate.
It’s easy for us to either not recognize or to dismiss bitterness in our hearts. When you’re wronged, hurt or disappointed, the emotions that rise up seem justified, and often times they are. But if those emotions are allowed to sit and percolate they can result in bitterness. One of the meanings for the Greek word bitter (miaino) means: to stain. Left unchecked our bitterness will leave its stain on our church, our family, our soul. Be careful.
It’s not easy to admit that we are bitter towards someone in our church, but it’s even harder to admit we’re bitter towards God. God disappoints. There…I said it. God does…but not in the same way we do. Our ability to disappoint others stems from our fallen, sinful nature, or theirs, or both. God disappoints us not because of any fault within Himself, but because we bring into our relationship with him our expectations which sometimes are fair and sometimes not. Be careful.
Have you ever had the following expectations?
- I expect my church to grow.
- I expect to see the lost won to Christ.
- I expect my church to allow me to lead them.
- I expect my programs to work.
- I expect my people to love me…and be nice.
- I expect people to stay instead of leave…
When God doesn’t make all these things happen we can get disappointed with Him. After all, aren’t these all things He wants too? When disappointment with God is not accepted, acknowledged, and addressed it can evolve into bitterness. Bitterness with God is understandable but still unacceptable. Be careful.
Whether you’re bitter towards someone in your church or God, be careful. The stain of bitterness will sabotage all you are trying to do and all that the Father wants to do with you and in you.
Find someone to talk to. Don’t let bitterness take root, pull that weed out today. Be careful.