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The Children Of Bitterness

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The Children Of Bitterness

The Instructor for our marriage seminar was still talking about bitterness. For 3 nights he had brought up the subject and lingered there a good while.

He said that young couples might have an argument and say something stupid like: I hate you, or I don’t love you anymore! There may be a time of repenting and forgiveness for them, but that memory will linger for 40 years. Staying resident just under the surface.

I appreciated the subject being covered for the couples, but tonight was the last night. Bitterness again was still the theme at a marriage seminar. Why? He explained that bitterness gets you in trouble with God, God’s man, and also destroys your home.

It all came together finally for me when he asked for the big chalkboard and drew a family tree down to the 4th generation.

He wrote the name Ted, at the top level, saying that Ted had attended his church for many years. He had also known all 4 generations of his family.

The reason for drawing the family tree was to point out the sad truth that none of us contain our thoughts, feelings and emotions so guardedly that no one else is affected. Like a hereditary cancer, negative emotions and attitudes can grow and contaminate others. It’s a generational thing. Unless someone breaks the cycle, there will be many injured.

“Look,” the preacher said, “at Bro. Ted’s life story.”

(My wandering mind was brought back to reality.)

“He was a hard working, middle-aged Pentecostal. He had a good wife and had 2 children. For a while their home was a haven.

“Bro. Ted was liked by the good folks in the church and was selected to be a trustee. He seemed to enjoy the job and was very active in the church.”

In the 3rd year of a former pastor’s tenure, it just seemed to him that the preaching was getting a bit too conservative and personal for his liking. His preaching felt personally directed to him and Ted resented that. He found himself feeling a strong dislike for the pastor.

It was an unmentioned fact that Ted was slow to forgive and was known to “hold” grudges for a long time. When someone hurt him, his reaction was to hurt back. He always did that.

At a church workday one Saturday, the pastor had said, “Brother, could I get you to sweep up that trash over there, please?”

“What trash?” said Ted looking in the general area, “The only trash we have around here is what stands behind the pulpit!”

God paralyzed him so that he could not move or bend and Ted was carried away like a log. Some of the men tried to put him into the car to take him to the hospital, but he couldn’t bend to close the door. He asked for the preacher to come and pray for him. Ted repented to his pastor, he was prayed for and God restored him to normal health.

I wish that the story ended there. It seemed however, that it was just the symptom of a deeper deadly disease.

Not long afterwards, he felt his wife disapproved of some of his ideas and actions. They argued. Harsh words were used. That hurt him. She needed to be hurt back, he felt. Ted found a woman at work that was sympathetic and appealing. His romantic fling with this woman shattered the marriage.

The children watched the parents argue and destroy their relationship. They saw the bitterness displayed. They heard the bitterness expressed.

Ted’s two children struggled in their relationships. The girl became an unwed mother several times before marrying. She married several times. Her brother was never faithful to his spouses either.

His grandchildren all experienced multiple divorces, affairs, had babies out-of-wedlock, and continued the holding of grudges like their grandfather.

By now, only one or two would even sporadically try to attend church. Holidays were about the only time.

All of the 4th generation, experienced similar marriage, moral, and God problems.

Their bitterness towards God was not contained at that, it had spilled over into all of their homes.

No one broke the cycle. The bitterness, the holding of grudges, the retaliation, and the desire to hurt back descended down from one man.

A few years after the marriage seminar, I went to visit that church one Sunday. Ted had been buried on Friday, two days earlier. None of his children or grandchildren went to church. Ted had died backslidden.

The truth is, children watch their parents. They know whether they forgive or hold grudges.

Openly repenting and forgiving allows children to see that Daddy was not less of a man. Not only would Daddy, or maybe Grandpa be more of a man, he might just be the key reason his children and grandchildren are still living for God and have good marriages. Forgiving others opens us all up to receiving God’s forgiveness.

Matt. 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Matt. 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

  • There’s no hope for the children of bitterness!
  • The children of bitterness don’t stand a chance.
  • How long will you let your war go on?
  • Don’t live like Ted!
  • Don’t die like Ted!
  • If you are bitter, what future does your marriage have?
  • If you are bitter, what future do your children have?

Heb. 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Children of Bitterness…What will your Epitaph be?

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 24, 2010 at 9:03 am

3 Responses

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  1. This is so true. Children are so senstive to their parents feelings and ideas, likes and dislikes. I remember as a child I watch my father during church when another preacher was preaching to see his reaction. If he looked like he was approving, then I felt like the preacher was ok.

    Marian June Davis

    February 24, 2010 at 10:32 am

  2. Well put elder…bitterness, when it takes root, is an incredible destructive force…and defiles many, as you illustrated. Jesus said, “Offenses will come…” and they have. The greatest challenge that we face as children of God, is to guard ourselves against the impact of offenses. That is a challenge. But I have found that God is able to heal today like he did 23 years ago when he dug this ole boy out of the mire…thanks again sir. We love you at FPC of Puget Sound.

    Larry Billings

    February 24, 2010 at 11:45 am

  3. Well put.
    At the end it made me think about Esau…

    A.N.T

    January 4, 2012 at 12:59 am


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