Dr. Les Ollila is the founder and director of Building Great Leaders. It’s a ministry providing instruction, encouragement, and resources for Christian leaders. He’s a former pastor, staff evangelist, and former president of what was then known as Northland Baptist Bible College. He’s a member of the Board of Directors of VCY America.
Dr. Ollila defined bitterness as a fretted and irritated state of mind that keeps a person in perpetual animosity. It’s a dissatisfaction that is well developed and robs our soul of contentment.
He did make an important distinction. He noted that many times discontentment is really bitterness, but it’s not always that way. You see that with Hannah. She was discontented, yet she prayed out of the bitterness of her soul.
Another distinction he made was between relational bitterness (like we see in Shimei in his attack on David) and circumstantial bitterness (as we see with Naomi).
Is there a relationship between anger and bitterness? Dr. Ollila explained that when you look at Ephesians 4, bitterness and anger are mentioned in the same verse. So there has to be a connection. In these cases we are quenching/grieving the Spirit while at the same time God tells us to put away bitterness, wrath, anger and evil communication.
When engaged in perpetual animosity, this causes people to be unable to rejoice because their heart is heavy and this can sometimes be traced to a seething bitterness.
This Crosstalk uses the story of Ruth as a case study as it looks at the sources, symptoms, and solution to bitterness, and various sub-points within each of these categories.
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