The most important legacy that we can leave behind is a marriage that models the marriage between
Christ and the church.
It is a model to the children and a method of honoring God’s commands to love one another. Second to God, your spouse should be the most important person in your life. I am well aware how hard it is to sustain a marriage for decades and that God has made a concession in allowing divorce for certain circumstances. Yet I truly believe God’s plan was one man and one woman joined together for life. His plan was that with the birth of a child, our family was the closest thing to the trinity that is available on earth.
A lot of families we work with have issues with their marriage. Why do I know this? Because I see in one of them all the signs of bitterness. And he or she usually thinks the reason for the bitterness is their mate. The mate’s behavior is not dictating how he or she feels, but he/she believes it is. Bitterness is the true dictator, a most divisive and destructive force to which many believers have succumbed!
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you”
Ephesians 4:31, 32
I cannot stress enough; bitterness is communicated to the children through overt and covert means. It is a legacy of blame and lack of personal responsibility that acts as cancer passed on to children. I can hear Jesus say “Woe to those who are bitter.”
So what are the signs of someone who is bitter?
It is a hard heart and ears attuned to the enemy’s accusing voice that gives bitterness the soil it needs to grow.
- An attitude of being offended by someone else
- A mindset of always someone else’s fault
- A build-up of anger and resentment to a point that it becomes a part of their lifestyle
- Avoiding personal responsibility
- The more they fail in life the more bitter they become with someone else
- Resisting any logical response to their bitterness through intellectual arguments
- A sense of hopelessness
- It can be a type of addiction in that they feel an inner calm at being able to see outside of them as out of control, so they make others pay for their perceived wrongs done to them
- Living in a distorted reality
- When events pressure them into accepting blame for something, they immediately recall all the wrongs that have been done to them, thus avoiding reality again
- The most heinous result of bitterness is that they often maintain their bitterness under the guise of being extremely spiritual, that God has called them to suffer by being cut off from others and others are covertly punished for their perceived failure
The majority of believers under emotional stress either have an outer expression of hurt or inner explosion of depression and with the passing of time all is forgotten and forgiven. Not so with someone that harbors bitterness.
Bitterness is poison to any marriage!
And a poison to our legacy to our children.
Bitterness develops the type of dependence seen in cigarette smoking. It is a habit that starts with the enjoyment of smoking after dinner, at a party, or during leisure time. Soon the person loses free will and the smoker follows the domineering call of the cigarette and goes whenever it calls. A person becomes a slave to a new master. The person specially created to listen to the Father above listens to the cigarette below.
The fact most evident, yet rarely discerned by the bitter, is that whoever they are bitter toward has become their god. “Only God should have your attention,” says Jesus to the devil while in the desert. Most of us have been hurt by others, but making them our gods by continuing to give them our attention is a greater tragedy.
Forgiving makes any person happy! When we forgive, no matter what the offense, we rule! When we do not forgive and become bitter, others rule us,
whether we realize it or not.
You see, the command to love others is not only for their good but for our own good. The enemy would have us believe that forgiving will hinder our happiness. A paramedic once made an observation that he never had a call from a bible study, but that he had received many calls from bars and parties.
“…promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome,
by this he is enslaved.”
II Peter 2:19
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By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring about significant impact for His Kingdom.