Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.   You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

James 1:2-4 (MSG)

Emotional Maturity is the willingness to walk intimately with God through every life experience without losing heart. Emotional Maturity (Genesis 50:20) perseveres under the pressure of tests, challenges, and suffering.  Those who have this quality don’t avoid emotional pain but embrace it.  The mark of a mature man or woman of God is that they embrace everything the Lord allows them to experience in life without bitterness.

The words of Joseph illustrate the importance of emotional maturity.  If he had become bitter about the harm he experienced, then God could never have used him to save his family.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Quote from Rocky Balboa (2006)

There are too many Christians who cannot save anyone, because they have allowed themselves to become captive to bitterness, instead of moving forward.

They have lost their ability to save other people, because their bitterness has led them to be self-consumed.The emotionally mature have a spiritual security that will see them through even the most difficult times.  If you are going through difficulties then there is much to be learned about maturity from the scriptures.

Many of us who are currently struggling with bitterness were not bitter in our youth.  You believed in dreams, trusted people, and were full of hope for the future.Much of this has changed as you have aged.  You may have lived long enough to have a list of regrets greater than your list of hopes.  Like the Psalmist you have experienced troubles many and bitter.  Reality – Every person will be hit by life!

The question is, have you let your circumstances change what you believe about God? Has bitterness become a way of life for you?

The Psalmist experienced bitter troubles, but he didn’t develop a bitter heart.

How do you know you’ve developed a bitter heart?  Let’s identify:

  • Bitter Idolatry –Deuteronomy 29:18 (CEV)
    An unhealthy dependence on people that leads to constant disappointment, frustration and resentment.
  • Bitter Life Disappointment – Genesis 37:24
    When life circumstances are radically different than what you envisioned.  When you are forced to be content with a destiny you never asked for.
  • Bitter Relationship Disappointment –Psalm 73:21
    When a relationship is radically different than what you envisioned.  When you are constantly rejected in a relationship, and do not know how to resolve it.
  • Bitter Loss – 1 Samuel 30:4, Job 9:18
    Losing someone or something so valuable to you, that it takes a part of you with them.  It steals all of your joy, faith and hope.
  • Bitter Home – Proverbs 17:25, Colossians 3:21
    Detached relationships at home becoming normal.
  • Bitter Suffering –Lamentations 3:19 (NLT)
    Unending physical pain that you don’t deserve and that will not go away.
  • Bitter Loneliness – Ruth 1:13
    Angry that no one understands you.
  • Bitter Failure (Mad at yourself) – Luke 22:62
    Hating yourself for under-achieving and regretting missed opportunities.
  • Bitter Envy/Ambition –Acts 8:23, James 3:14-16
    Wanting the talent, attention, and status that others have
  • Bitterness Steals Awe- Jeremiah 2:19

We have to aggressively reject bitterness by refusing to allow ourselves to live an awe-less Christianity.

Here are two ways we can do that:

1. Make God Your Strength- Psalm 73:21-26 (NLT)
How can you allow your circumstances to drive you get more strength in your relationship with God?

2. Make Every Effort- Hebrews 12:14-16
Bitterness usually means we’ve quit on relationships.

What relationship do you need to re-engage in?  What would it look like to make every effort?