Bitterness and cynicism are my strongest spiritual gifts.
Or so I used to think, anyways.
Before I became a Christian, bitterness was something of a hobby of mine. My early Christian faith merely gave me language to justify it. Bitterness gave me gifts of “discernment”; and didn’t God’s truth need me to defend it? Although I’d only been a Christian for a few years, it was obvious that the American church was shallow, and I would be one of the noble few to revive it. If I didn’t bully you into accepting John Calvin into your heart then who would, you know? I saw bitterness as a gift which gave me wisdom, knowledge, and courage.
All of that changed as I moved into ministry and began interacting with ministry leaders who were much older than me. I noticed that the leaders I revered and most wanted to imitate exhibited no hint of bitterness or cynicism in their public ministries. In fact, they were marked most by compassion, gentleness, and patience – often being publicly moved to tears out of love for Christ and his church. It was the grumpy pastors who were marked by bitter argument, incessant arguments, interminable complaints, and cynical slander who repulsed me.
I knew then that I had a choice to make: either dig up my root of bitterness (Heb. 12:15) or be consumed by it (Amos 6:12). It has been a daily fight since then not to give into this bitter fruit – this “wormwood” – but to continue pulling it out until I might be freed of it. I suspect I will be digging up this weed until I see Jesus face to face.