Scripture: Romans 12:17-21
What I want to do then this morning is lay out four ways to battle bitterness by battling unbelief. If God empowers his Word now, there will be great results: your heart will be freed from the burden of bitterness; at least from your side relationships can be healed; one more obstacle can be removed from an authentic witness to Christ, and God will be greatly honored by your trust.
1. Don’t Ignore the Good Advice of the Doctor
The first way to battle the unbelief of bitterness is very basic: namely, consider what the Doctor says good advice. If the Great Physician says, “Put away anger,” don’t ignore the counsel. Put it in your mind and resolve to keep it. That’s what you do if you trust your Doctor.
Listen to the story of Leroy Eims’ battle with anger. Here is a Christian leader who discovered that the secret was in listening to the Doctor’s orders.
Shortly after I became a Christian, I was . . . challenged to make personal applications as part of my weekly Bible study. One of the first books I studied was Paul’s letter to the Colossians. As I was studying chapter three, the Holy Spirit caught my attention with this: “But now you must rid your selves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language” (Col. 3:8).
I tried to slide past this verse, but the Spirit kept bringing me back to the words “put off anger” (KJV). At the time I had a violent temper, and whenever it flared up I would haul off and bash my fist into the nearest door. In spite of the fact that I often bloodied my knuckles and on the one occasion had completely smashed a beautiful diamond and onyx ring my wife had given me, I couldn’t seem to stop. And yet here was God’s Word: “Put off anger.” It was clear to me that this was not just some good advice given to the people at Colossae centuries ago. It was God speaking to me at that moment.
So that week I make a covenant with God. He had spoken to me about my sin of anger, and I promised the Lord I was going to work on it . . .
My first step was to memorize the verse and review it daily for a number of weeks. [The doctor’s advice is not ignored. You get serious about getting it into your head and heart if you trust him.] I prayed and asked the Lord to bring this verse to mind whenever a situation arose where I might be tempted to lose my temper. And I asked my wife to pray for me and remind me of that passage if she saw me failing in my promise to the Lord. So Colossians 3:8 became a part of my life and gradually God removed that sin from me. (The Lost Art of Discipleship, pp. 78f.)
So the first way to battle bitterness by battling unbelief is to believe that the Doctor’s advice is good. If you trust his counsel, you will take pains to get it into your head and heart. You will not ignore it or reject it.