You thought you could stop any time. Next thing you know, you’re hooked.
What went through your mind when you read the opening sentences? Likely you thought about an addictive behavior you or someone you care about is struggling with.
But did “bitterness” also cross your mind?
Think about it. In this politically caustic environment, how often do we give in to hateful thoughts about people with whom we disagree?
We foolishly thought we could handle a bitter thought now and then. That we could stop any time. But … next thing we knew … we were hooked.
Before long, we can’t stop ourselves. Those who disagree with us are clearly the enemy. The first mean, malicious thought was so enticing that it led to another mean thought. Now thinking this way has become an all-consuming behavior. We act as if we can’t get enough of believing the worst of “them.”
Consequently, our lives have changed in a way we didn’t expect or want. With so much hate filling our thoughts, we’re no longer a credible witness of Christ to the loss. We can’t read our Bible the same way. Even our other relationships seem different somehow. Why?
Because our mean-spirited thoughts have compromised our hearts.
Just like it would have been better for an alcoholic to avoid that first sip or a gambler to avoid that first wager, it would be better for us to avoid the very first bitter thought. But even if we’ve already started down that road, meditating on Philippians 4:8 can transform our thinking.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)
What would happen if, during this Valentine’s Day season, we gave God permission to make us aware every time we think on things that aren’t praiseworthy about someone? Especially those we’re not crazy about.
It’s possible to strongly disagree with people without spit-firing snarky remarks about them in our hearts. Degradation will never lead to mutual love and respect in relationships with people on the other side. Snark will never allow us to explain our point of view, but instead closes the door for open communication. Forever.
Furthermore, bitterness can sabotage all our relationships, including the ones with people we want to share Christ with.
No addictive behavior will get us where we want in life, especially in our relationships.
Unless of course, we become hooked on behaving more like Christ.
What do you think?
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this post. (Others might also benefit from your comment.)
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