16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen (2 Timothy 4:16–18, NKJV)!
Paul could have been bitter as he surveyed his situation. He was now aged, and life was nearing its end (Philem. 9; 2 Tim. 4:6). Demas had forsaken him for this present evil age (2 Tim. 4:10). Alexander, the coppersmith, had done him much harm and resisted the gospel Paul taught (2 Tim. 4:14-15). No one stood with him when he defended himself before the Roman authorities (v. 16). But Paul was not weakened in faith. The Lord rescued Paul from inevitable demise (the lion’s mouth). The Lord would certainly deliver him even though death was near. His faith was in the Lord, not people (v. 17). Paul fixed his faith on the everlasting, heavenly kingdom and deliverance from the evils of this world (v. 18; 2 Tim. 4:7-8). Do not become embittered when people let you down, hurt you, and forsake you. The Lord will not fail you (Heb. 13:5-6). Wouldn’t it have been tragic if Paul had become a bitter, cynical old man at the end of his life? His example of steadfast faith continues to strengthen aged ones whose faith is in the Lord.
12 “They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” (Romans 3:12–14, NKJV)
In this passage the apostle used a number of quotations from the Psalms and the Prophets to fortify his statement that “all are under sin” (Rom. 3:9). In verse 12 he applies Psalm 14:3, pointing out the futility of seeking satisfaction in things that turn us away from God and His way of truth. Sin’s futility is exposed – it never delivers what it promises (2 Pet. 2:19). Next, Paul quoted Psalm 5:9, 40:3, and 10:7 in verses 13 and 14 to amplify the sins of the tongue. Our words come from our heart, therefore, when we lie, curse and speak bitter words we reveal malice and contempt in our heart. Stinging words that hurt and harm identify a real and present danger to our souls. We must control our heart to speak words that are fitting, not destructive (Prov. 25:11). We must use God’s word to identify our sins. By doing so we can be convicted, leading to repentance (Acts 2:37-38). Otherwise, we remain enslaved to sin and spiritually dead.
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31–32, NKJV)
Bitterness is like acid eating through one’s heart. There is no room for compassion, kindness and merciful forgiveness in the bitter heart. The companions of bitterness are angry, resentful responses, evil words and ill will. Christians must put away all these things from their hearts. This can be done by recalling the kindness of God toward us in Christ. God could have been bitter toward us because of our sins against Him. But, His kind love forgives us in Jesus. There can be no room in our hearts for bitter resentment. Be kind. Be merciful. Forgive. That’s how God has treated you in His Son, Jesus Christ.
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. (Hebrews 12:14–16, NKJV)
God did not promise peace to His people in this life. Indeed, Jesus said, “in the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jno. 16:33). God’s grace in Christ gives us sure hope, even as sorrow and pain tempt us to abandon the very grace that sustains us as we walk this vale of tears. And so, we are warned not let life’s sorrows and trials turn to bitterness. Once bitterness takes root in the heart it is a dreadful enemy to peace and holiness. The bitter heart has lost faith, and so falls short of the grace of God. Esau serves to illustrate the base values that led him down the path of bitterness. When life does not turn out like you wanted or expected, do not become bitter. Strive for peace and walk in holiness; resist the temptation to become bitter. Bitterness of heart prevents pursuing peace and holiness, and finally, it prevents a person from seeing the Lord throughout all eternity.
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Bitterness is like acid eating through one’s heart. Gone is empathy, kindness and merciful forgiveness toward one who sins against the bitter of heart. The companions of bitterness are angry, resentful responses, evil words and ill will. Christians must put away all these things from their hearts. This is done by recalling the kindness of God toward us in Christ. God could have been bitter toward us because of our sins against Him. But His kind love forgives us in Jesus. There is no room in our hearts for bitter resentment. Be kind. Be merciful. Forgive. That’s how God has treated you in His Son.