The best way to rid yourself of bitterness is to replace it with gratitude. Gratitude takes practice. It requires habit formation. For better or worse, we all have habits.
Let’s start with the bad ones. This Sunday, we’ll look at chapter 10 of Hebrews. The pastor in Hebrews writes, “And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11). Throughout the Old Testament, we learn of the many sacrifices priests would make for the atonement of sins. The book of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus has come as the perfect, once-and-for-all sacrifice. And yet, the priests continue sacrificing animals on the altar. Hebrews reminds us that those sacrifices do no good. The forgiveness of sins has taken place through Jesus on the cross.
Before we turn our noses at the priests of this day, we need to look inwardly. How many times do we find ourselves asking for forgiveness for the same sins over and again? Have you ever found it hard to let go of the past even after you have asked for forgiveness? You find it hard to move on. Praying the same prayer for the same sins is a bad habit that we need to break. Why? Jesus truly has forgiven us. As Hebrews 11:17 reminds us, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” Let’s move to the good habits.
In Hebrews 11:24, 25, this pastor exhorts his congregation, “Provoke one another to love and good needs, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” Who knew that provoking each other was an act of faith? I am raising my children well. People in the church obviously had drifted away and needed to make meeting together a habit. They had become sluggish in their faith.
As we move into this seasons of Thanksgiving, I would encourage us all to make gratitude a habit. Instead of reliving our sins each time we pray, let us instead say thank you to God for mercy.
Lastly, I find today, there’s much bitterness in peoples’ heart. Our country is finishing an election season. There’s much hurt and skepticism. For Thanksgiving lunch, there’s sure to be lively conversation and anger spilling out thicker than the gravy. Here’s my one tip. When you get out of bed, put three pennies in your right pocket. Throughout the day, find three times to say thanks to God. Say thanks for a generous encounter with a friend, a beautiful sunset or a job well done by a co-worker. Each time you say thanks, switch one of the pennies to your left pocket. Keep it up until all the pennies are there. It’s a simple way to make gratitude a habit. It will help rid you of bitterness.