Embittered Against Them
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When Paul wrote, AHusbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them@ (Colossians 3:19 NAS), he contrasted the two fundamental and opposing attitudes of heart that a man can walk in toward his wife.  He can love her, or he can be embittered toward her.  It= s a case of one or the other.  Paul doesn=t allow for a mixture of some of each, or for rationalizing, AI love her, but she...@

What does it mean to be embittered?  The Greek word, pikraino (Strong= s #4087), means to be exasperated, irritated, angry, or indignant.  Related words imply extreme wickedness and bitter hatred (pikria--#4088) and harsh and virulent (pikros--#4089).

This bitterness is located in the heart (James 3:14--ABut if you have bitter (#4089) jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart...@).  It comes out the mouth (Romans 3:14--AWhose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness [#4088]@ and James 3:11--ADoes a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter [#4089] water?@).

It is associated with wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice (Ephesians 4:31).  It also is found as a part of Ajealousy@ (James 3:14 or zelos--#2205) which denotes zeal, excitement of mind, or fervor of spirit, which in the negative can release fierce indignation and punitive zeal.  Bitterness occurs when someone comes short of the grace of God, and it causes trouble and defiles not only the person who is its object but also many others (Hebrews 12:15 [NAS]--"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled").

In sum, bitterness is a death-ministering hardness of heart toward one= s wife that must be removed from its place and put away (Ephesians 4:31).  It must be replaced with love.  This love is to be put on and walked in, as the essential characteristic of the grace-given new self which has already been made for us in the likeness of God in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:22-5:2).  And so Paul says:

As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:12-14 NAS.

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