And did you know that bitterness and a bad attitude can affect you physically? Have you ever been so embittered toward someone that it made your stomach hurt, or gave you a headache? Some psychiatrists are even urging that bitterness be recognized as a mental illness under the name “post-traumatic embitterment disorder." It can have a very real effect on a person’s mental and physical health.
That’s what Asaph was telling us in Psalm 73. The first thing he realized was that he had been harboring an extremely bad attitude, an attitude which brought out the “beast” in him. He said in vv. 21-22, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” This was a very real problem Asaph faced, and it was causing some very real damage to his attitude and spirit.
The phrase in verse twenty, “My spirit was embittered,” reads in the KJV, “I was pricked in my reins.” The phrase literally means “I felt as if teeth were biting into my kidneys.” He realized the main problem was not with the prosperity of the wicked—the real problem was not with someone else! The real problem was within himself, and that was most difficult to admit.
It’s difficult for us to admit, too. But a bad attitude about God, about life, about the church, about other people—all those things can affect you adversely. That is what James was talking about when he wrote in his letter: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth…for where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:14, 16).
In spite of his bad attitudes (which he confessed, by the way!) Asaph was sure of his relationship with Someone who loved him anyway. All of us have bad attitudes about one thing or another at some point in our lives, and it is probably at those times when we are most unloveable! But we who know Jesus know Someone who will love us anyway!
But if I'm consumed by a bad attitude and bitterness, it's up to me to change that situation. The circumstances don't have to be different. The sun doesn't have to shine brighter. Life doesn’t have to go my way. But I can make a determination in my heart that I am going to be different. I can decide that I am not going to be consumed by bitterness and rotten attitudes.
Let us decide--right now--that we are going to follow the words of Scripture--God's Words, by the way!--when they say, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4) And watch the bitterness and rotten attitudes melt away!
And how is a bad attitude like a flat tire? You can't go very far until you change it!
--Rocky Henriques, www.uticabc.com