Son: There is a fox at the door.
Me: Open the door and bring it in.
Son: Mom! It is a fox, not a box!
Jumping out of bed, I dashed to the door. Sure enough, there was a fox at the door. Can you imagine what would have happened if my son had opened the door to let the fox in?
This incident reminds me of two little foxes I let into my life early in my marriage. My friendship with the little fox of resentment started rather innocently. Whenever I felt that I was treated unfairly, or my input was discounted, I would get angry. Outwardly, everything looked fine, but I was stewing inside. Over time this bad habit grew and festered into bitterness which left me frustrated and created all kinds of problems in my marriage.
Like me, Cain harbored anger in his heart towards his brother, Abel. He cuddled resentment and bitterness at what he thought was an unfair treatment by God when Abel’s offering was accepted but his offering was rejected. His bitterness led him to murder his brother. You can read the story here (Genesis 4:3-12).
Unlike Cain, David shows us a better way to respond to unfair treatment and angry criticism in 2 Samuel 16:5-14. Shimei, a relative of King Saul accused David of killing Saul and his sons. He insulted and embarrassed David in public, he threw rocks at him and called him all kinds of names. Some of David’s attendants wanted to respond to Shimei, but David told them to leave him alone. Rather than respond in kind, David chose the higher view.
Bitterness is deadly. It led Cain and Shimei down a path of destruction. Thankfully the Lord did not allow me to continue my relationship with resentment and bitterness as they were leading me down a dangerous path.
Are you friends with resentment and bitterness and any of their kissing cousins; hatred, critical spirit, grudges, judging others harshly, whining, complaining, and offense?
Watch out, these little foxes are deadly and can contribute to a breakdown in communication and dysfunction in marriages and relationships.
If left unchecked, resentment and bitterness will interfere with our ability to sense the presence of God or hear His voice. They steal our joy, ruin our testimony and rob us of abundant life in Jesus. These little foxes have no place in any marriage or relationship. They must be rounded up and put to death.
What is your behavior towards your spouse in your marriage? How are you responding inwardly and outwardly?
How can you overcome feelings of resentment and bitterness and prevent them from wreaking havoc in your marriage and relationships?
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- Pray and invite God into your marriage and relationships.
- State your needs, don’t expect your spouse or others to read your mind. They may not be aware there is a problem.
- If you have a disagreement with your spouse, rather than get angry and stew inside, prayerfully work through the issues.
- Express your true feelings and let your spouse know how their words or actions hurt you. Choose to forgive, move on and leave those bitter feelings behind.
- Choose to be a student of life- learn from your experiences and choose not to become bitter about them.
- God is big enough to catch our little foxes of resentment and bitterness if we are willing to surrender them to Him.
Prayer: Lord, I desire your Holy Spirit to guide my responses to my spouse and others when they hurt me, wrong me or offend me. I choose to forgive them. Help me to recognize the enemy’s strategy to keep me in bitterness and unforgiveness. Help me not to respond with a judgmental heart and hold their sins against them. Heal my heart and renew a right spirit within me. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Scriptures: Galatians 5:16, 24, Ephesians 4:26, 30-32, Ephesians 5:21, Romans 13:14, Matthew 15:18, Hebrews 12:15, Song of Songs 2:15
Feel free to share your experience with these little foxes in the comments below. If you know anyone who would benefit from this post, please share with them.