We have all had our feelings hurt by someone who we love or by someone who loves us. It is not an emotionally pleasant feeling, but many of us allow those hurt feelings to develop into bitterness and resentment. It is how we react to those hurts that define our character and our ability to love. Bitterness is a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will, to act or do something in a sharp and bitter manner. Bitterness is associated with spite, which is feeling a need to see others suffer, to hurt the feelings of, malevolence by virtue of being malicious or spiteful or nasty. Bitterness disconnects us from love and becomes an encumbrance, bitterness impedes and becomes a barrier to love.
We allow our hurt emotional feelings to overcome us, to get the better of us, and anger sets in from the primary source, which is the hurt. Rather than overlooking the issue or forgiving the hurt, (which is what love would do), we stew over it and allow it to fester in our hearts and minds like lava in a volcano. We allow those hurts to build bitterness within us because of our inability to give allowances of grace to others. We attempt to hold and bind those persons to our pain, (which we feel that they caused, even if it was unintentional), because we lack the grace to overlook an offense. We are now prone to lash out in anger, from our own spite and bitterness, in a manner that is hurtful. We complain about what the other person did and now we are doing the very same thing. "You hurt me and now I am going to hurt you." What part of revenge is associated with love?
Vindictive behavior is when you are showing malicious ill will and a desire to hurt someone; it is motivated by spite, and disposed to seek revenge or intended for revenge. Too many relationships end up in conflict because one person got hurt, stewed up in bitterness, (you know stinkin thinkin), and then lashed out at the one they say they love. Love is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrongdoing. Now the person who is acting in this vindictive mannerism is actually a bigger problem than the one who originally caused the feeling of hurt. Why? Because the one who is lashing out from their pain is allowing the hurt to get the best of them, they are allowing it to control them, and they act with full intent to bring harm. This is referred to as malice, which is feeling or having a desire to see others suffer.
Folks we need to consider that there is going to come a time when we are going to hurt someone special in our lives, not because we necessarily intend to, but because we are imperfect. It is going to happen, and when it does it is actually going to be an opportunity for love to overcome an offense by means of grace. Wouldn't you want to have that very same grace available to you when you inadvertently offend or hurt someone's feelings? How can you say you love someone, harbor feelings of bitterness and resentment for them in your heart, and behave in a vindictive mannerism towards them at the same time?
Treat others the way you wish to be treated, set an example of loving grace for others to see. A couples love for each other will grow deeper when you let things go. When your spouse sees that you love them at a level of grace it will effect him or her in a profound manner. Step up to a higher level through love and avoid the relational pits of bitterness. Send resentment, spite, malice, and vindictive behavior packing. Don't accept those things in your hearts, in your relationships, or in your house, kick them the hell out!