How to Avoid Bitterness
About Your Job, Ministry,
Marriage, or Other Circumstances

By Michael D. O'Neal

April 27, 2009

Many preachers of my acquaintance are unhappy about their ministry. They are hoping that a door will open for them to minister at another place with more potential. If they plan to stay at their current church, they are hoping that a change of location, a new building, or a new program will solve their problems.

Many church members are unhappy about their circumstances: their health, their job, their salary, their residence, or their marriage. They are miserable. They can hardly wait for a change.

I don't believe a bitter, unhappy attitude is the will of God for our lives. What is the solution? I personally believe that it has to do with thinking biblically. The Bible says,

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Contentment is not a state of circumstances; it is a state of mind regarding our circumstances. When soldiers asked John the Baptist about right living, he told them,

Luke 3:14 ... and be content with your wages.

The Bible has a lot to say about contentment.

1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Writing from a prison, Paul showed that he was not bitter about his circumstances:

Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

How could he say that? He wasn't able to get out and minister to people. He was locked up. How could he be content with that? I believe that it had to do with his thought life. In that passage he admonished,

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Let me make a few suggestions about thinking "on these things" that I hope will help you if you're having a problem with being bitter about your circumstances.

1. Think on the Plan of God. The Bible says in Rom. 12:1-2 that submission to the Lord and separation from the world will help us to prove (to test, to determine) what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Are you in the will of God? Do you believe in God's watch care? Have you meditated on Rom. 8:28 in light of your circumstances? God either allowed you to be where you are, or He directly placed you there. Don't rebel against His will.

2. Think on the Power to Prevail. After he wrote that he could be content in any conditions, Paul stated:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

You can prevail in your circumstances. The power that created and sustains the universe works in you, if you're a child of God. The Lord is in you!

3. Think on the Provision of Our Needs. Phil. 4:19, which follows these verses, doesn't promise that you will never have a need, but rather that God will provide all your need. The only way for God to provide your need is for you to have a need. Paul knew "how to suffer need" (Phil. 4:12). Your need will be supplied in due time. Be patient.

4. Think on the Peace Available When we do Right. If you're doing right, you should have God's peace:

Philippians 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

5. Think on Prayer and Its Opportunities. Correct praying brings the peace of God:

Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

6. Think on the Passing of Trouble. Your suffering and situation are temporary. Paul had been through a time of neglect, but it didn't last:

Philippians 4:10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Your trouble will pass, too.

7. Think on the Precious Things Ahead. Jesus is coming! We aren't home yet. The best is yet to come!

Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Do you believe "the Lord is at hand?" If so, remember how Paul comforted himself about his troubles:

Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


E-Mail:brothermike@brothermike.com

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