The Trap of Bitterness
Posted: Tuesday, January 12
Verse of the day:
Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” (Genesis 27:39-40)
Have you ever been angry? I mean, really amped up. If you’ve ever been treated unjustly, felt ignored or belittled, teased incessantly, blamed, criticized, or assaulted, you know the emotional monster that anger can become. In anger people explode or withdraw. It’s important to know that anger is not a problem; it’s not good or bad. In fact, it’s a God-given emotion that when responded to positively can correct attitudes, behaviors, or injustices. Of course, for most of us, anger is usually responded to negatively and leads to destructive responses that we thought would protect us from hurts or frustrations.
In Genesis 27, we find two brothers, Jacob and Esau. To say that their family life is like a day time drama would be an understatement. The simple gist is this, Jacob pulled a fast one on his dad, Isaac, and stole Esau’s inheritance. Esau was mad, he planned to murder his brother. Jacob soon catches wind of this and he’s off and running to a distant land. Esau is left holding more than just a small piece of what should have bankrolled his future along, he was holding onto hurt. But his dad speaks up and says “…when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”
On a grand scale, these words are prophetic and we see them played out in the pages of the Old Testament; Esau’s descendants (the Edomites) finally break free from Jacob’s descendants (the Israelites). But on a personal scale, we see the toll that bitterness takes between two brothers; tearing a family apart and breaking a mother’s heart. Esau let his anger morph into a monster. Instead of responding humbly and choosing to become Godly, he responded negatively and fell headlong into the trap of bitterness.
Bitterness became a yoke around his neck. A yoke is a farming tool used to pair together two animals, usually oxen, so that they might be used to plow a field. Isaac warned his son Esau that that bitterness he felt would tie him to his brother Jacob. Esau probably thought revenge would bring the freedom and healing he longed for, but instead Esau’s life was consumed with every move Jacob made to the point that Esau no longer had a life; he was trapped by bitterness. He was stuck in the past. Isaac said you can break free, you can shake it off, you can forgive.
If someone has hurt you (real or imagined) it’s crucial to deal with that well. So many become trapped by bitterness. They are not fully living life. Marriages can be broken, families can be fractured, and great friendships can be torn apart by bitterness. One of the tell-tale signs that you’ve fallen into this trap is that you find yourself all alone simply because you could not forgive those who have hurt you.