Overcoming Sin Through Christ – Bitterness or Resentment

Overcoming Sin through Christ

A Comprehensive List of Sins

(Alphabetically Arranged)

Richard Hollerman

The plan of this study is simple.  We will look at a large number of sins, one by one, alphabetically.  We will define the sin, describe it, and comment on it, along with noticing Scripture references on the particular entry.  Some illustrations will be offered along with the description.

Bitterness or Resentfulness

The English word bitter may be defined as “proceeding from or exhibiting strong animosity” or “marked by resentment or cynicism.”[i]  Resentment is defined as “indignation or ill will felt as a result of a real or imagined grievance.”[ii]  Cynical can be defined as “selfishly or callously calculating. . . . negative or pessimistic. . . . Expressing jaded or scornful skepticism or negativity.”[iii]  Bitterness, resentment, and cynicism are frequently connected with or produced by an attitude of anger.  As we look at the Greek meaning, pikraino can denote “to embitter, irritate, or make bitter.”[iv] 

What does Scripture say about the sin of bitterness?  Paul writes to husbands, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them” (Colossians 3:19).  The term “embittered” here is translated “harsh” in the ESV.  Curtis Vaughan says that Paul “urges husbands not to be ‘harsh’ with their wives, using a word that suggests a surly, irritable attitude.  Perhaps the colloquialism ‘don’t be cross with’ best expresses the meaning.”[v]  Maybe Paul is envisioning a man whose wife was immodest, insubmissive, disrespectful, lazy, lustful, or slanderous.  A husband may tend to grow bitter and resentful of his wife’s attitude and demeanor.

“There was a tendency in the Roman world for men to rage bitterly against their wives and mistreat them.  Because of their greater strength and louder voices, men in their sinful natures are prone to use harsh words, threats, unkindness, and eve physical violence to intimidate their wives.”[vi]  In contrast, Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives.”  The Christian message gives no allowance for a bitter attitude toward one’s wife (or husband)!

In another place, Paul says that “bitterness” and other sins must “be put away” from the Christian; instead, he is to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other” (Ephesians 4:31-32).  The Hebrew writer also shows the result of allowing bitterness to take root in the heart: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (12:15).  “A bitter and resentful person is like a contagious poison, spreading his resentment to others.”[vii]  A bitter spirit may contaminate a fellowship of believers, causing all to come short of God’s grace. 

It can corrupt the individual as well.  Peter told the greedy Simon in Samaria, “I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity” (Acts 8:23).  Because of this negative spirit, Peter said, “Repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you” (v. 22).  His bitter, covetous, prideful, and mercenary spirit would cause him to perish, apart from repentance (v. 20).

 



[i] The American Heritage College Dictionary.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Vine, Expository Dictionary.

[v] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11, p. 218.

[vi] ESV Study Bible note.

[vii] ESV Study Bible note.

 

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