Raging Bull - 1/13/19

RAGING BULL 01 13 2019
Ephesians 4: 28-32

For most of us there are certain things in life that when we think of them …
bring us a feeling we often describe as bitterness. … This could be an event that
took place years, … if not, decades ago; … something someone said and even
though that individual has long forgotten about what they did, .. we haven’t …
and as a result, … we now have bitterness.
Bitterness comes in different forms and causes a variety of different results.
Certain foods have a bitter taste. … This lemon is one of them. … Let me ask; …
does the mere mention of lemon juice just do something to your mouth? …
It brings a kind of bitterness to us.
OR, … Perhaps we are involved in a conversation with someone and they bring
something up; … an event or a person; … it could be from years ago … but the
feeling we have; … perhaps even the bad taste we get in our mouths for that
person, … comes back to us immediately. … Have you experienced that before?
I know I have.
I believe we all have … and we may even stop and think: … “I haven’t thought
about that for a long time” … or maybe we are one who might actually say: …
“I think about it all the time.”
The writer of Hebrews understood this emotion and wrote these words: … “Pursue
peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.  15  Make
sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness
springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many” (Hebrews 12: 14-15)
Now when it comes to this emotion called bitterness, … I think there are several
points we could agree on today: …
1. At one time or another … every one of us have had … or have now … feelings
of bitterness toward another person.
2. Many times we know the source of our bitterness … but not always.
3. Most of the time we do not know what to do with this emotion.
Fortunately for us the apostle Paul did know what to do. … Paul has plenty of
reasons to hold bitterness in his heart. … To name a few: ….
*Three times they beat him with rods for sharing his faith.
*Once they stoned him, … somehow he survived
*Five times the Jews gave him 39 lashes with a whip. … It was thought that if an
individual received 40 lashes, it would kill them. … He literally was beaten within
an inch of his life five times.

2

Paul said that every day he felt pressured; …why? … Because he was serving the
Lord. … Ever tried to do something good … and yet you are criticized for it?!
It happens and it can bring a great deal of bitterness into our life.
Bitterness; … the way I would define it is like this; … Bitterness is an intense
feeling caused by some event where we have been wronged / mistreated.
It happened to most of the disciples; … it happened to the Old Testament prophets,
… to Paul, … Stephen … and of course, … to Jesus.
They stoned Stephen because of his faith. … He performed miracles. … He helped
a lot of people, … so they lied about him, … produced false witnesses to testify
against him … and then they stoned him.
The Bible says this… “They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord Jesus,
receive my spirit!”  60  Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do
not charge them with this sin!” And saying this, he fell asleep.”
I’ll be honest, … I’m not sure that would be my response … and I’m not sure it
would be yours either.
For most of us this root of bitterness gets hold of us and it does exactly what the
New Testament warns (for this, … I like The New Living Translation); … “Watch
out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many”.
All of us know what poison does. … It destroys life. … Fortunately, Paul tells us
what to do to prevent being poisoned.
I am not aware of any problem Paul mentions where he did not also offer a
solution. … That’s a good way for us all to live. … We have too many experts who
know everything that is wrong … but few who can offer solutions.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is a problem … but it does
take one to know what to do with the problem.
Years ago a man named Nikola Tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory which was
having some kind of problem. … Ford asked him if he could help him identify the
problem with his generator. … He told Tesla that none of his own repairmen knew
how to fix it. … Tesla walked up to a wall and made a small X in chalk on one of
the boilerplates and said your problem is right there. … Ford was thrilled and told
him to send him a bill. … The bill arrived for $10,000. … Ford asked him to break
it down and he replied: … “sure, 1 dollar for marking the wall with an X and 9,999
dollars for knowing where to put it.”
Paul begins here by telling us to get rid of: … “All bitterness, anger and wrath,
shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice”.

3

Why does he put all of these together in one basket? … Simple; … They’re all
connected. … To us, … this is fighting, … brawling; … we say someone got into a
brawl … but really it’s not as much a fist fight … as it is fighting with words.
Somebody slanders us; … they say something about … your mama …
and bitterness turns to rage, … which turns to anger … and suddenly a fight breaks
out.
It’s a poison … and the longer poison is in our system, … the worse off we are.
Paul says get rid of it!
So how do we do that? …
When two or more irritations are connected … and that connection is causing a
problem, … we have to take one of two actions: … (1) either break the connection
… or … (2) make one of the two go away. … This is how I see the connection: …
(1) Bitterness can lead to rage. … It’s like the Incredible Hulk. … Come on; …
you remember your old comic books and the TV series with Bill Bixby and Lou
Ferrigno!
Bitterness is that root! … If we keep putting our hand into a vat of poison, …
eventually, enough poison may absorb through our skin to damage the whole body.
You see, … we are the one who controls what comes into our body. …
That’s why Paul tells us to get rid of it … and we can get rid of it before it destroys
us.
(2) Anger can cause brawling. … In fact, that is the primary reason any brawl
actually takes place. … Two or more people are angry. … The anger escalates …
and suddenly there is a brawl.
(3) Slander can cause us to feel malice toward someone. … Malice is the desire to
cause injury to another. … A person tells a lie … and our character is damaged.
It is then our desire develops to hurt them back; … to exact revenge. …
That’s what malice is.
Now we know this but let me spell it out; … the size of the root determines the
quality of the tree. … Strong roots; … strong tree. … Damaged roots; … damaged
tree / damaged character.
Paul say get rid of the damage. … Get rid of the bitterness … and keeping with
Paul’s style of teaching, … when he directs us to get rid of something, …
he tells us what to put in its place. … Like breaking a bad habit, … it is often
effective to put something good in its place.

4

Here are three suggestions Paul gives us: …
(1) Be kind to each other. … One thing is for sure, … if we show kindness to
someone who has hurt us, .. we just succeeded in confusing them. … They won’t
know how to respond. (Proverbs 25:21-22) … “If your enemy is hungry, give him
food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22  for you will heap burning
coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
(2) Show compassion. … Show mercy to those around you, …even to your
enemies. … (Matthew 5: 43-44, 46) “You have heard that it was said, Love your
neighbor and hate your enemy.  44  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for
those who persecute you,” 46  For if you love those who love you, what reward will
you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
Jesus always placed the responsibility for doing the right thing on the believer.
We wonder how can someone be that way; … how could they hurt me or someone
else so badly? … The truth is if they don’t know Christ they don’t really know any
better … and until they see that Christ has really made a difference in our life …
then they may not realize that Christ can make a difference in theirs as well.
Be kind. … Show compassion.
(3) Forgive, … just like Jesus forgives us.
Harry Houdini, the great escape artist gave a certain challenge wherever he went.
He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed and set himself free
quickly and easily. … He always kept his promise except on one occasion.
Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; … the heavy, metal doors clanged
shut behind him. … He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, … strong
and flexible. … He set to work immediately but something seemed to be unusual
about this lock. … For 30 minutes he worked and got nowhere. … An hour passed,
and still he had not opened the door. … By now he was covered in sweat but he
still could not pick the lock. … Finally, … after laboring for two hours, … Harry
Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock.
But when he fell against the door, … it swung open!
It had never been locked in the first place!; … But in his mind, … it was locked …
and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the
jail cell.
If we have bitterness toward someone, … we will stay locked up. … We will never
be set free. … When we refuse to forgive someone, … they hold us … as the
hostage.
When we refuse to forgive, … there is no one we will hurt more than our self!!
AMEN