The word "bitter" has been on my mind this afternoon. It's an interesting word full of a lot of pain but more on that in a minute.
It's used 84 times in the NKJV Bible. From the first use when Esau cries out with a "bitter cry" upon the realization that his brother had received "the blessing" to the bitter "aftertaste" of the little book that John ate in Revelation. From the bitter life in bondage of the Jews in Egypt to the bitter life of Naomi in Ruth. But most often in the Old Testament the word deals with "taste."
Only 12 of those 84 times is the word in the NT. Two of them adjectives to describe peters realization of his denial of Christ (Matthew 26:75; Luke 22:62). Once in Acts describing the poison that had entered Simons heart (8:23). In the epistles the word is a trait - a noun - don't let it abide in your life. The most picturesque is Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many..."
It can take root in our lives and cause trouble and affect others.
The source of bitterness has always interested me. When I meet a bitter person I want to know what hurt made them decide to allow themselves to become that way. I've never been in a church where there wasn't at least one emotionally unstable person who was so messed up with bitterness they constantly made life miserable for others. And with their hand in the mix of most every church fight you'll find a person full of bitterness.
Bitterness never stays put - it flows into other areas of life...It hurts the things you most value...And rarely does a person realize the pain they are causing innocent bystanders with their bitterness. They've hurt me and they've hurt you and on occasion I have to make sure I've done the weeding I need to do to make sure I'm not hurting others because of something that has happened that made me a little bitter.
Peterson styles the verse this powerful way: "Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time." Be careful, don't let bitterness choke the joy of life out of you.