I was drinking poison without realizing what I was doing.
I remember the bright red gas can in my grandfather’s garage that had a small skull and cross bones with the letters D A N G E R written in white towards the bottom of the aluminum container. Several adults had taken my hand and walked me over to the can, insisting that I look at the skull and cross bones.
“NEVER pick this can up, Shawn. And NEVER drink what is inside. Are you listening? This is poison and it will hurt you very badly and make you very sick. Do you understand?”
My head nodded up and down in the affirmative. Every time I would walk past the can during my preschool and early elementary years, those conversations would replay in my mind. A shiver would go down my spine as I imagined what might happen to me if I did not obey what I had been told.
It was in my mid-teens when I first took a sip of the poison that Scripture had clearly warned me would cause trouble to not only me, but to others.
This poison could not be seen or tasted. It was not stored in a bright red can. It was deadly, however, and its side effects could not be hidden from those around me.
The poison I began to drink was bitterness.
Here are three signs that you are drinking the poison of bitterness:
- Your Mouth Is Exposing Your Heart
Take this challenge for one day. Make a mental note of what is most prevalent in your speech – does it overwhelmingly consist of complaints, gossip and pride or speech that is uplifting to others. If edifying speech is rare, ask the Lord if bitterness could be the source of the problem.
2. Your Attitude Is Not Gratitude
Bitterness and gratitude cannot reside in the same place. The Lord continually instructs us in the Psalms to remember all the wonderful things He has done for us. When I focus on what I believe He hasn’t done for me, bitterness clouds my perspective. The fastest way for an attitude adjustment is to take five minutes to remember how He has been faithful and make that our focus.
3. You’re Suffering From “Compare-i-tis
Why can’t I be as outgoing as her? Why don’t our kids behave like theirs? Why do we struggle financially when she gets to have her dream house? Why can’t my marriage be more like hers? Why does she get to be married while I am lonely and single?
This is the quickest way bitterness enters my heart! I start comparing myself to someone whom I believe God has been kinder to than me. Which one of us would ever say that a comparison session makes us feel better when it’s over? No one. The best way to beat “compare-i-tis” is to have Hebrews 12:1-15 memorized or written out on a 3×5 card and pray it out loud to the Lord:
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.
Bitterness never affects just us. It is like a highly contagious virus that spreads to those around us. Our spiritual health depends on us stopping the poisoning effects of bitterness that may be going on in our lives.
I’d love to hear your feedback! Which of the three signs of bitterness poisoning can you relate to the most and why? Leave your comment below.
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