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Bitterness, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
October 26, 2022 9:00 am

Bitterness, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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October 26, 2022 9:00 am

One of the deadliest poisons to relationships is bitterness. The only cure is to be transformed by the grace of God!

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Today on Summit Life with JD Greer. That's another myth, is that God only speaks in my life through people who are perfect. He doesn't speak through people who are perfect. He speaks through people who are screwed up like you are. He speaks through donkeys, right?

He can do what he needs to do and sometimes he uses very flawed people who are very much in the wrong to accomplish a good purpose in you. Welcome back to Summit Life with JD Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. We're in a teaching series called Home Records talking about several common stumbling blocks that can destroy our ability to have healthy, God-centered relationships.

If you missed any of the previous messages, you can hear them online at Today, we're talking about one of the deadliest poisons to any relationship, and that's bitterness. And we're learning that the only antidote to this comes from being truly transformed by the grace of God.

Are you ready to remove this toxin in your relationships? You've come to the right place. Here's Pastor JD. When the Bible presents families, it presents them as they are, not like we would wish that they always were. You read some of the stories of families, especially in the Old Testament.

It's like watching a Jerry Springer show. What that tells me is that there are families and there are marriages in here, in this church, that have issues. And we've got a statement around here at the Summit Church that everybody's normal until you get to know them. Then when you get to know them, you realize that their families are as dysfunctional as many of yours were.

Now, let me make sure I'm clear on this. Some of you had great families, and you come from great families, and you have a great family now. I am not trying to imply that behind every family is some deep, dark secret. My mom and dad were faithful to each other for our entire lives. They never abused us, they loved us, they served us. I grew up in a great home. Regardless, however, everybody's family, everybody's family looks a little different on the outside than it does on the inside. Isn't that true?

You can say amen right there. Listen, there are two ways to have a great family, two ways. One is you can all be perfect all the time. The other is that you can learn to show grace. Now, the first one's not really an option, okay? So wake up, it's not a Brady Bunch.

The first one is not an option, so I wanna explore the second one with you. That is what it looks like to have a gospel-centered, grace-saturated marriage and family. Because God doesn't want you to be trapped in a prison of bitterness.

That is a home wrecker. And we're gonna talk about what that looks like. Romans chapter 12, if you have your Bible, is where we're going to be focusing today. I was trying to think of what passage, really, that would get at the heart of this one.

And this is the passage that I just consider to be absolutely foundational to knowing how to get along in relationships. So you got aggressive people, people who fight. Then you got passive people, people who flee. And a lot of us are kind of a mixture of the two. Like me, I'm kind of a smack and run guy. You know, a little bit of passive, a little bit of aggressive.

And actually, you call those people passive-aggressive. The person who has done the wrong will either have their sin paid for by Christ on the cross, like yours was, or they will suffer for it themselves in hell. Either way, vengeance will be served to the fullest extent. And that means that you have the ability to forgive. That is huge in the ability to forgive. Because any amount of forgiveness that does not include a sense of justice will be a hell of forgiveness and one that won't last. No other religion in the world teaches you what I'm about to teach you.

Here is number one. Grace absorbs evil and gives good. Nobody who has been deeply wronged ever just forgives. Grace always involves suffering.

If you forgive, you are agreeing to absorb the wrong for their action towards you and not give retribution in response. This is, of course, what Jesus did for us. He absorbed the effects of our sin and released us from the liability of punishment. Jesus didn't just forgive us.

He absorbed into his body the effects of our sin. Again, nobody who has really been deeply wronged ever just forgives. When they have wronged you, you have to choose whether you are going to give retribution or whether you believe their sin was put away forever in Jesus or will be vindicated in hell. I learned a definition of grace when I was a kid that I've never forgotten because I think it's just dead on.

Grace, G-R-A-C-E, God's riches at Christ's expense. God did not just forgive me. He didn't just forgive you. He gave you his riches but at Christ's expense, which is yet another dumb Christian bumper sticker. Christians are not perfect, they're just forgiven.

Christians are not perfect, that is true, but they're not just forgiven. God did not just wave his hand and forgive us. He absorbed into himself the expense of our sin so that he could lavish upon us the riches of Christ.

God's riches at Christ's expense. Grace absorbs evil and gives good like Jesus did. Here's number two, grace overcomes evil. Second revolutionary truth from this passage, grace overcomes evil. Romans 8, 28 tells you that your father is working all things, even the bad things, for good in your life, but you won't believe that. You won't embrace that. You feel like you want to go back and get vengeance and you want to hold yourself in the prison of this past and you are thereby forfeiting the mercy and the grace and the blessing that God has for you now.

Get out of the prison of past bitterness and into the promises of future blessing because God has a way of overcoming even the worst things in your life. So let me summarize these verses. Christians don't respond to evil aggressively. They don't respond passively. They don't even respond passive aggressively. Christians respond to evil, get this, with aggressive grace. That's what I want you to write down, aggressive grace.

Not passive, not aggressive, not passive aggressive, aggressively graceful. Now, here's what we're gonna do. I'm gonna deal with two or three objections that I've heard you thinking. Okay, I can hear it going on in your mind. I heard three objections, I wanna answer all of them.

And then I'm gonna give you a handful of steps to show you how to apply this on a day-to-day basis. All right, so here we go, three objections. Number one, if I forgive, you say, who's gonna take care of me? Who's gonna take up my quads? Who's gonna nurse my wounds? Short answer, God will. Objection number two, if I'm being hurt, are you telling me just to get walked on?

You tell me just to roll over and take it, just to be taken advantage of, not at all. I mean, first of all, part of overcoming evil is confronting somebody in their sin. Scripture talks a lot about this. Ephesians 4.15 tells us to speak the truth and love. Galatians 6.1 says that if you see somebody overtaken in a fault, you oughta go to them humbly and meekly and restore them. Luke 17 tells you if your brother sins, rebuke him.

If he repents, forgive him. This is not confronting them like yelling at them. You're not verbally whipping them. It means lovingly confronting them for their sake, which means you do so without the slightest drop of malice or ill will or hatred. Jesus had a great way of talking about this.

He usually did on stuff like this, but especially this. He called it turning the other cheek, which means you absorb the blow, you confront them about the wrong, and then you re-offer the relationship to them. This was most fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross.

Jesus absorbed the blow, but then he offered reconciliation. A lot of times, we don't say anything to people, and we feel like we're being loving, we're being patient. We are not. All we're doing is being a coward. You feel like, well, I'm just not gonna say anything.

I'm just gonna take it. I'm gonna be a martyr. You're not being a martyr. You're being a coward.

Tim Keller says this. Ultimately, any love that is afraid to confront the beloved is really not love. It's a selfish desire to be loved, because I'm not confronting you because I'm afraid that in confronting you, you're gonna be mad at me, and I don't wanna lose the face of my relationship with you, so I'm just not gonna say anything to you. I'm gonna let you continue on your sin, even though I know it's destroying you. That is not loving.

That is cowardly. So quick call, not a Christian virtue, because it's not. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do to somebody is to confront them about their sin. Now, the other thing I'll say here on this point is that this passage recognizes there's a time when you have to remove yourself from a situation, because it's not possible to live peaceably with somebody.

Remember Romans 12-18 we looked at? Romans 12-18, which said, if it's possible to live peaceably with all people, Paul is conceding it's not always possible. Sometimes you just need to overlook the offense. Sometimes you just need to overlook it. I'm not talking about confronting over everything.

I'm not talking about leaving the relationship over everything. It's wisdom. It's glory to know when to just overlook it. Wisdom is knowing what goes in what category. You're like, well, tell me what goes in what category. I know that's what you want.

I know you want a little list so that you can go down and check it off and then hit the bottom and go ballistic. That's not what I'm gonna do. I could give you guidelines about harming you, about a person's hardness, I could do all that, but at the end of the day, it just comes down to wisdom.

And guess what? You're not in a place to make that kind of wise choice, because your emotions are too involved, which is why you ought to be in a small group and be involved in a church, because that's what God's gift is to you for other people to speak wisdom into your situation. I'm talking about a group of girls, your girlfriends, that you gossip with at Barnes and Noble about how bad you're, I'm talking about that level of friends. I'm talking about godly friends who can look at a situation and help give wisdom into a situation about what you ought to be doing. Objection number three, you know, well, should we never let somebody bear the consequences for their sin? No, sometimes you let people suffer the penalty for their sin. Proverbs 19 goes on to say a hot-tempered man must pay the penalty if you rescue him. You're just gonna have to do it again, which means sometimes you let people suffer the consequences. Y'all, I do this with my kids.

Just because I forgive them doesn't mean that they don't ever face the consequences for their sin. Now again, it takes wisdom to do this. All right, so there's your three objections. So here's what I wanna do now. I wanna give you some very practical ways that you can apply this. I'm gonna give you, get this, 11 practical things you need to do, but don't freak out, because they're real quick. I mean, seriously, these are like drive-bys. Some of you need to write these down and you need to put them on the dashboard of your car, because some of you will need these five times on the drive-home, okay? So I want you to write these 11 things down and I want you to think about it, all right?

I'm just gonna do a drive-by in most of them. Number one, when it's possible, you need to overlook the offense. That was Proverbs 19.11. Sometimes the glory of being a believer is you just let it go. I wish that I lived this in my marriage.

It would be so much better. It's not often that I am just directly hypocritical, but I clearly am on this point. I need to, where am I? I'm back there, I'm on the screen. You just let it go, man, let it go. You don't need to confront every wrong. You don't always have to respond.

You can just let it go and absorb it and move on. We'll return to Summit Life with JD Greer in just a moment, but I wanted to tell you about our featured resource this month. Our goal is to equip you to care well for the people in your life, whether it's someone who lives in your house or someone you work with or even a long-lost friend. So our newest resource is a pack of encouraging greeting cards. Next month is Thanksgiving and the perfect time to connect with someone. Let them know that you're thankful for them.

It might even be a chance to mend a broken relationship. What greater hope can we share with those that we care about than the beauty of God's word? Take a practical step towards those you love with a handwritten note of encouragement right now. This resource comes with your generous gift to the ministry, so give us a call at 866-335-5220, or check it out at Now let's return for the conclusion of our teaching today.

Here's Pastor JD. Number two, Forgiven Advance. Forgiven Advance, Mark 11.25 says, when you stand praying if you hold anything against somebody, forgive him. In other words, when you're in prayer, even before you've actually gone to confront the person, you've already forgiven them in their hearts. Luke 17, if your brother sins, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. Then if he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times comes back to you and says every time I repent, forgive him. Then Jesus goes on to say 70 times seven. Well, what do you, people hear that and they're like, oh, well, it's 490. I'm gonna keep a scorecard of 491.

I'm gonna go Old Testament on you. Not what he's meaning. He's not telling you to keep a scorecard. Seven in the Bible is the number of perfection, completion.

So seven times 70 means ultimate completion or forever. It means there's never a time when you have not already extended forgiveness even before they've asked for it. You resolve in your heart to forgive and advance regardless of their repentance on the issue because repentance has more to do with you and God than it does you and them. Number three, take time. Take time.

This might be one of the most practical. You're wondering how you should respond to somebody who's wronged you. Are you gonna make the right decision in the moment of anger?

Easy question. No, it never works out well for you to respond in anger. Over the years, I've told you I have this little rule about, I call it the 24-hour rule about not responding to emails that make me mad within about 24 hours because I almost always, sometimes I do respond, but then I just don't send it. Just kind of leave it and I almost always rewrite it when I'm not angry and it comes out much better. 24, I usually do that. Sometimes, you know, I'll go ahead and let it fly, but I usually regret it.

I usually regret it. Take time. Take time. Go in a room and yell serenity now or whatever it takes and then just walk away. Number four, ask God what he is teaching you in the situation.

Ask God what he's teaching you during that time that you take, you ought to pray and say, God, what are you trying to teach me through this painful situation? And realize that God can and does, listen, God can and does speak through very flawed people to you. That's another myth, is that God only speaks in my life through people who are perfect. He doesn't speak through people who are perfect. He speaks through people who are screwed up like you are.

He speaks through donkeys, right? He can do what he needs to do and sometimes he uses very flawed people who are very much in the wrong to accomplish a good purpose in you. So ask God what he's teaching you in the situation. Number five, reflect on your own depravity. Reflect on your own depravity. Paul says, Galatians 6, if one of you is caught up at a fault, go to him with humility and meekness, realizing that you also are the kind to be tempted.

This person's no different than you, right? You have the same stuff in you, you have the same makeup, you're every bit as depraved as they are and you reflect on your own depravity and that makes you go with humility. Number six, rejoice in your own forgiveness. Rejoice in your own forgiveness because, see, being in Christ gives you the security to be able to forgive and it also gives you the grace to want to forgive. When you're in Christ, forgiveness comes naturally, see, because there's a limit to how deeply somebody can hurt you.

I said something last week that I think some of you misunderstood because I got a few emails about it, so let me clear it out. I told you, in Christ, you can give up all you have because in Christ, you have all that you need. In Christ, I can give up all that I have because in Christ, I have all that I need and some of you said, well, does that mean that I just get taken advantage of and you take everything from me that I have?

No, I'm not saying that at all. Listen, I'm just saying that when you're in Christ, there's a limit to how deep somebody can actually hurt you because, see, your real wealth, your real significance, your real security, your real worth is in Christ and they can't touch that. When you're in Christ, there's a limit to how deeply they can hurt you.

You know, here's what I'd say. Listen, how well you understand the gospel, how much you get it is measured by how much pain you can endure and still have joy. How well you understand the gospel is measured by how much pain you can endure and still have joy. Some of you cannot endure a slighting by your spouse, you cannot endure insult, you cannot endure any pain because you don't really understand the gospel at all. Your joy is not in Christ, your joy is in something and when it's threatened, that's why your joy evaporates.

Your understanding of the gospel is measured by how much you can have joy even in the midst of pain because your joy is in Christ when you understand the gospel and that's something that insult and pain can't touch or take away. Number seven, take the initiative. Take the initiative. There's one place in the Bible where it says that that if you're the one who is wrong, you ought to go and ask for forgiveness.

Then there's another place in the Bible that says if somebody has done wrong to you, you gotta go and ask for forgiveness. The astute reader will say, wait a minute, when do I not have the initiative? When is it their responsibility? And the answer is never, never. The move always lies with you.

When any relationship has cooled, listen, when any relationship has cooled or weakened in any way, it is always your move, always. Doesn't matter who started it. That's what the Bible says if you're into the kind of thing, all right? And I am. Number eight, apologize for your wrongdoing without qualification. Apologize for your wrongdoing without qualification. You ever ask for forgiveness that's kind of like a little forgiveness and a little bit like you're like, I'm sorry that I said that to you, but you, you're like, I'm sorry that I said that to you. You're like, I'm sorry that I said that to you.

I'm sorry that I said that to you, but you are such an idiot, which is why I said that to you. And I'm gonna ask for forgiveness here while giving you explanation over here. Listen, when you, listen, when you explain your wrongdoing, you're not asking for forgiveness, you're asking for understanding.

And those are two totally different things. You ought to maybe give explanation at some other point and confront them, but that ought to be a separate conversation. You ought to just go and apologize for what you did wrong without qualification. Listen to me, some of you guys, some of you men have never, never asked for forgiveness from your wife, truly.

It's always been, yeah, I did this, but here's really what you did. You've been asking for explanation, not forgiveness, and you need to repent straight up, straight out, with irrespective of them and say, I'm wrong, period. And you're wrong does not excuse my wrong. Some of you men have never offered a real apology to your wife, never, never, never. You've offered it to coworkers, but you've never offered a real apology to your wife. That's where it ought to begin for you today. Number nine, confront where appropriate. Confront where appropriate. Number 10, forgive fully, forgive fully.

A guy named Ken Sandee gives in a book called Peacemaking for Families, Four Promises of Full Forgiveness. Here they are, I will not think about this incident. I will not bring it up or use it against you.

I will not talk to others about it, and I will not allow it to stand between us or hinder our relationship. Number 11, repay with good. Repay with good.

All right, let me close by explaining this to you. When I was growing up, the tradition I grew up in had these marks that they said were true of you if you were really saved. They were things like if you really had been saved, first of all, if you were a girl, you started to wear cool lots. Remember those in the long shorts? You started to wear cool lots. You developed an intense hatred for rock music and beer and cigarettes.

You just started to hate those, and you cut your hair short if you were a guy. That was the marks of being, and you developed an insatiable thirst for Southern gospel music. That was the other one. Those were the marks of truly being born again. If you're really saved, this is what you do.

You start speaking Elizabethan, Bethania, or however, King James English. That was the other mark. Now, that's ridiculous.

That's all ridiculous. Most of that's ridiculous, but there is one definitive mark of somebody who has truly tasted the grace of God. One definitive mark, and that is people who have really tasted the grace of God develop an insane ability to forgive. And so for some of you, the question is, listen, your inability to forgive, that bitterness you harbor, is an indication that you've never really embraced.

I don't mean you don't believe it. I don't mean you're not saved, but I mean you've never really been embraced by the grace of God. Because Jesus said those who are forgiven much love much. Those who are forgiven much begin to forgive. So see, if forgiveness doesn't come as naturally to you, if bitterness has just rooted itself in your heart, I've gotta ask you this. Have you really ever comprehended what God has shown to you? You were guilty of a sin, of a rejection, of an authority, of a blaspheming of God, that the only way to cover it was either for you to suffer for it eternally in hell or Jesus to go through a bloody cross on your behalf and face the wrath of God for you. How could you possibly understand what God has forgiven you of? And not naturally have a heart that feels compassion and forgiveness for other people, because you recognize that they're depraved like you are, and that you are a recipient of great grace. So you give great grace. Some of you don't need these 11 steps. You don't.

You don't need to put these on your dashboard. Some of you just need to get your heart around the grace of God for you, because then see the 11 steps are just starting to come naturally to you. You need to behold your God. You need to behold what manner of love the Father has lavished upon us. Though we are not just made right with God, we are becalled children of God.

We are his delight. And when you have been overwhelmed by the grace of God, then you begin to love, you begin to forgive. Those who are forgiven much love much and they forgive much.

Is your willingness to forgive in alignment with your ability to love? What a beautiful truth today on Summit Life. Our message today was called Bitterness.

And if you joined us late, you can hear this message again, free of charge at One of our big goals here at Summit Life is to set you up for success with teaching and resources that you can share with others. As you've seen, our teaching has been on point in terms of relationships, and we've packaged together a set of greeting cards for a similar purpose. Each card has an inspirational Bible verse on the front and is blank inside for you to use this year around the holidays or really any time throughout the year. We all know the power of receiving a handwritten note.

So give that gift of encouragement to someone you care about right now. For a gift of $35 this month, we'll send you this set of 20 greeting cards. Call 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or give online at I wanted to quickly remind you about a way that you can participate regularly in all God is doing through this ministry. It's by becoming a monthly gospel partner. A gospel partner is someone who believes in the mission of Summit Life to bring Bible-based teaching to every corner of the world and committing to ongoing monthly support. So while you're visiting, learn more about becoming a monthly gospel partner right now. I'm Molly Vitovich, and I'd like to invite you to join us when Pastor JD talks about the biblical response to despair. When Christians struggle with despair or doubts about God, there tends to be a lot of shame that goes along with that. Let's learn what it takes to overcome this pattern of thinking. We'll see you right here Thursday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-06 01:33:21 / 2022-11-06 01:39:57 / 7

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