Get rid of all bitterness... Ephesians 4:31 (NIV)
In John's apocalyptic vision (Rev 8:10), he saw a great star fall from heaven, blazing like a torch, 'and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the fountains of water. The name of the star in Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood and many men died of the water, because it was made bitter'.
Wormwood is an aromatic herb, notable for its bitterness. C S Lewis, looking for a name for the nasty little junior tempter in The Screwtape Letters, aptly called him Wormwood. Wormwood is bitterness. It is a dragon to be fought.
It has been pointed out that the plant wormwood is not actually poisonous, though it spoils all that it contaminates. But bitterness certainly poisons the soul. It is one of those deadly emotional attitudes which does harm to body and soul in a psychosomatic action. The antidote to wormwood is a forgiving spirit.
Bishop Festo Kivergere was asked how he dealt with the bitterness, anger and perhaps hate he must have felt toward Idi Amin, who had done much harm in Uganda and who had Festo on his death list. He replied:
'My wife, Mera, and I fled from Amin in 1977. And yes, there was bitterness within me. I was being strangled by hatred of Idi Amin. I saw what he was doing to destroy my people, and I protested. But I was losing my protest. You see, once I began to hate Amin, I was no longer protesting his actions. I was joining him. I had to learn what St Paul said: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good".
'On Good Friday 1977, sitting in a London church, I heard the pastor read, the words went right into my heart, showing me Amin. I began to say, "God forgive me. I simply don't have that quality of love. Mine dries so quickly". The Holy Spirit responded, "Don't worry, there is a bank in heaven for people who are bankrupt in love. You put in your application, will you?" And I did. The chains of hatred were broken. I entered a new liberating experience'.
Lord Jesus, help me to get rid of all bitterness,
resentment and hatred in my heart.
Help me to love others just because you first love me.
Help me to forgive as you forgive me.
Further reading: Eph 4:31-32, 5:1-2.