Chapter 1.
The Concept of Bitterness Explained

Hebrews 12:14-15

In this chapter we will look closely at this word bitterness; and hopefully provide a clear definition of its meaning. If we are going to fight the foe of bitterness we must understand everything about him. The best defense is a good offense. I have heard many stories of people dying from an illness that the doctor could have diagnosed rather easily, if only they would have went to the doctor. I dare say that many of the readers have searched for information on the internet to diagnose an illness. We need to be as vigilant in diagnosing the symptoms of bitterness that are destroying our life.

The Meaning of Bitterness

In looking up the New Testament meaning of this word we need to look at the following: “pikria” which actually means bitter gall; a) Extreme wickedness; b) a bitter root, and so producing a bitter fruit, c) bitterness, bitter hatred. The word has a very sinful and spiteful aspect to its mere mention. The seed of bitterness has been watered in fertile and hostile ground. The seemingly harmless shrub begins to grow its bitter roots underneath the ground; therefore it will produce some bitter fruit.

Bitterness from “Your Word Dictionary”:

  1. Designating or having a sharp, often unpleasant taste; acrid, as quinine or peach stones
  2. Causing or showing sorrow, discomfort, or pain; grievous
  3. Sharp and disagreeable; harsh; severe; piercing
  4. Characterized by strong feelings of hatred, resentment, cynicism, etc.

The person that has allowed the root of bitterness to bind them has experienced something that has placed an unpleasant taste in their mouth. This particular thing has brought discomfort and pain into their life. We will look at the causes of bitterness in the next chapter. In this chapter we want to clearly define the meaning of this vicious foe called bitterness.

The reader must be willing to consider the characteristics of this rabid beast called bitterness. If one allows bitterness to grow in their life; they must also understand what they are embracing. If one allows them self to kiss the devil, they must also realize that his kiss will suck the very life from their existence. Bitterness will change your outlook towards life and living. The bitter cup leaves an aftertaste that cannot easily be removed.

We not allow taste this bitter water, but we will beckon sorrow and pain to dwell in our hearts. Bitterness is self induced misery. I read a quote by Harry Emerson Fosdick, “He who chooses the beginning of the road chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determines the end.” If you sleep with dogs don’t be surprised if you get fleas. The reader must be careful in allowing bitterness to bind you up. The person that has experienced drinking for the cup of bitterness also understands the harshness of this bitter taste.

I have noticed that a bitter person is also a contentious person. The weight of bitterness is heavy load to carry; but the choice is made each day to pick it up and trudge on. The wounds of bitterness are never allowed to heal, but they are daily opened up and salt is constantly poured upon the wound. If we could watch this person we would notice that the way of bitterness has evolved into the only life that they know. If we could talk to the bitter person, we could hear the warranty of bitterness, this person feels as if they have a justifiable right for their bitterness.

The bitter person carries within their briefcase a pill bottle of strong feelings; these feelings portray hatred; resentment; and cynicism. If you try to help them dissolve these feelings do not be surprised if they spew out this hatred towards you. It is the ignorant person that befriends a venomous snake. The snake may allow you to feed it on numerous occasions; but given the right opportunity it will bite you and kill you if possible. The foe of bitterness is like a poisonous snake, ready to strike.

As we look at bitterness; let us also consider the course that we must travel upon. The bitter person must travel down a rocky and lonely road. The road will lead us into the dark; dreary dungeons of life. This road is a chosen course that is made each and every day. The choice of this road is also a costly course that will reduce our faith and our friends. In traveling down this road one must decide if the price is worth the end results.

The course of bitterness will imprison even the strongest person. In choosing bitterness, it is like a person burning down their house just to kill a rat. The bitter person chooses to live in seclusion; but when bumped they will splatter you with words of mass destruction. A bitter person will never allow their friends to see their true identity.

The Mention of Bitterness

The word bitterness is mentioned 22 times in 21 different verses in our bible. The word bitter is mentioned 38 times and the word bitterly is mentioned 9 different times. I want to identify the various biblical mentioning of this word “Bitterness”. We identify 7 various meanings of the word from the Old Testament and 1 meaning from the New Testament.

  1. Memer—“sadness”
  2. Mamror—“a bitter thing, or bitterness, filled”
  3. Mar—“of water or food, harlots end, cry, end of wickedness, bitter cry, of pain”
  4. Morrah—“sadness or grief”
  5. Mĕriyruwth—“sadness or grief”
  6. Marar—“to flow or to drop”
  7. Mĕror—“a bitter thing or bitter herb”
  8. Pikria—“bitter gall, extreme wickedness, bitter root thus bitter fruit”

The Misgivings of Bitterness

The greatest fear that should face the embittered person is thinking that it will not affect their life. The fact of is that bitterness is more deadly than the most fatal cancer. The disease of cancer will eventually suck the life right out of its victims. The despicable disease of bitterness will kill on the inside, but is cunning enough to allow its victim to keep on living on the outside. In understanding bitterness please allow the fact that most of its victims are not in the graveyard; but they are dead men walking in every facet of life.

The misgivings of bitterness must uncover the untrue fables concerning its strength and sorrows. The Christian will never face a stronger foothold than bitterness. The next thing that needs to be uncovered is the fact none of us can be counted among the untouchables. I have never met a person that immune to bitterness. It can rise up its ugly head at any given moment and take down any given person.

This strong foe of bitterness does not discriminate; it does not differentiate; it will take you down before you ever knew what was happening. In setting up our offensive plan against bitterness we should think about the unthinkable results that it produces in the lives of its victims. The path of bitterness is more horrible than the violent winds of the most destructive tornado.

In closing this chapter on the concept of bitterness; I hope we have explained a clear and concise definition. The bitter person has been hurt and has found a bitter taste in their mouth. The fact that this bitterness does exist in their hearts drives them down the path of hate and seething rage. The bitterness of the hate within stirs the pot of resentment. The bitter person has a deep cynicism towards all of mankind.

If you want to understand bitterness, go to the fire of a bitter person. A bitter person will gather their own wood of hatred; resentment; cynicism; envy; and place these sticks upon their fire. In every instance the bitter person will not allow their past hurt to be forgotten. It is not acceptable to forget, lest the fire goes out the embittered will stoke the cold ambers afresh with their bloody memory. The embittered cannot allow forgetfulness to creep into their private refuge of hatred and hostility.

The embittered has located the enemy and the enemy is himself. The embittered looks their enemy in the eye as they shave. The fact is that many of us have had occasion to become bitter. The difference is that most of us have forfeited our right of failing to forgive. The embittered man or woman has never forfeited this right; and will only do so if it is wrestled from their bloody grasp.