Many moons ago I took a prayer walk with a mentor of mine. When we returned, standing in front of his home, he asked me if I would l pray something for him. I of course I assured him that I would. He then asked me to pray that he wouldn’t die a bitter old man. How strange I thought at the time. He was in his early 40’s. That prayer was answered. He died at the age of 78 as a kind, gracious and gentle Christian leader

As I look back, I understand the need for such a prayer. I have lost count of the number of older bitter leaders I have known. There are many things that can happen to us on our leadership journey which can result in bitterness; both toward people and toward God. Chuck Lawless shares with us the cost of having a bitter spirit.

Originally published by Chuck Lawless

I’ve seen it a lot – believers who get angry at someone and then stay that way. I’ve seen bitterness consume people for years. Here’s why that happens: 

  1. The enemy wants you to stay unforgiving so your prayers are hindered. Jesus’ words were clear here: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing” (Mark 11:25).  
  2. Your bitterness is sin. When you stay angry and unforgiving, you are living in disobedience. That sin has a way of becoming a foothold, and then a stronghold.
  3. Your stronghold of bitterness can quickly become an idol. If you choose to stay bitter when God demands a change of heart, you are choosing to serve your emotions over God’s command. That’s idolatry.
  4. You carry the bitterness wherever you go. Even when you separate yourself from the person who’s offended you, the bitterness resides in you—and it affects the rest of your life. 
  5. Your bitterness affects every other relationship you have. Few of us are so intentional and strong that we can compartmentalize every relationship. Your bitterness affects all your relationships in some way.
  6. Even stifled bitterness is still present in you. You may have pressed it down, but all someone needs to do is “push the right button”—and all that anger rises to the surface again. It’s still there, slowly eating a hole into your soul. 
  7. Bitterness opens the door to other sin. That’s just naturally the case—one unforsaken sin dulls our senses to the work of the Holy Spirit, and other sin begins to invade our lives.  

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” Hebrews 12:15 ESV