The Art of Embittering One’s Life
My dear youth:
“The wall always falls towards the leaning side,” and this also has application in
the spiritual life. The wall of human nature leans towards evil. All humans tend towards
Jeremiah says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately
wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Paul expresses the same thought:
“There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is
none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together
become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-
12. This is how we are born, this is how we are. Nobody is born good and then the
environment corrupts him; this theory is not correct. We are born with a genetic code
that will develop. The first negative tendency is given to us by the law of inheritance
from our parents, this is called “inherited nature.” The second negative attribute is the
one that we develop: “acquired tendencies.” It is not surprising that humans show the
fruits of the flesh that Paul presents in the book of Galatians: infidelity, impurity, vices,
bad thoughts, idolatry, spiritism, hatred, fights, jealousy, anger, selfishness,
arguments, divisions, envy, etc. (Galatians 5:19-21).
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This is a clinical picture that presents our human condition regardless of social
status, our origin, race, sex, etc. We are all the same.
The tendency to self-inflict harm
With this condition, each person shows negative traits in their character that
depend on the education received, the kind of parents, the environment where they
grew up, and what the individual cultivated. There is a trend that is becoming more
widespread among humans: embittering one’s own life. “Many look at things on their
darkest side; they magnify their supposed grievances, nurse their wrath, and are filled
with revengeful, hateful feelings, when in truth they had no real cause for these
feelings…. Resist these wrong feelings, and you will experience a great change in your
association with your fellowmen.” Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 517.
“The current scientific evidence that indicates that any disorder called physical
or organic usually implies equally, and at different levels, psychological alterations,
and vice versa (Oblitas & Becoña, 2000). These psychological factors include fear,
sadness and anger as negative emotional reactions, and their different clinical forms:
anxiety, depression and persistent anger.” Emociones Negativas y su Impacto en la
Salud Mental y Física. Suma Psicológica, Vol. 16. Número 2. Diciembre 2009. Págs.
“One of the most investigated emotional reactions is undoubtedly that of
anxiety, as an emotional state associated with multiple disorders, especially
psychophysiological ones” (Idem). What is bitterness really? Let’s look at a definition:
“Lasting feelings of frustration, resentment, or sadness, especially because of
disappointment or injustice.”
We can make a great list of habits that humans adopt that make life bitter.
Anxiety for the future
The first is anxiety for the future. In general, we worry about what will happen
tomorrow: if we will have a job, if we will be healthy, if everything will function normally
in our society, if there will be money to retire, if a war will break out, if we will have
resources to feed our family, etc. Jesus tells us: “Therefore do not worry, saying,
‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after
all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need
all these things.” Matthew 6:31, 32.
Fear of men
Another very powerful factor of bitterness is what man can do to us: that they
rob us, that they manipulate us, that they control us, that they deprive us of freedom,
that they criticize us, that they persecute us, that they hate us, etc. Living in a state of
constant emotional tension for fear of what may happen to us is very negative for our
bodily health and soul, because we show that we do not trust God. Jesus said. “So
we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to
me?’” Hebrews 13:6. This does not mean that we will be careless and that we will not
take steps to take care of ourselves or protect ourselves. The ancient Hebrews built a
large wall to protect the city of Jerusalem. But once we have done what we consider
The art of embittering one’s life 3
logical and appropriate to take care of ourselves, we must leave everything in the
hands of God and not live in anguish or bitterness. When there are personal
grievances, the cause must be left to the Lord; He knows everything and knows how
to solve each problem. Prayer will be our best resource when we are offended.
Fear of what they will say
We, humans, care a lot about what people will say and that is why we tend to
hide our faith, because it greatly contrasts with the opinion that people have. It is not
that we are going to go with a loudspeaker publishing our faith on the street, there are
situations and appropriate times for this, but rather that we must be prudent and when
God gives us the opportunity we express our faith, without fear of the opinion of the
Let’s be authentic. Many mix with others because they do not want to be
criticized or rejected, and this often leads them to leave their faith. This was the case
of the apostle Peter: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever
is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37.
Fear that the planet will be destroyed
Another bitterness for many people is the fear that our planet will be
destroyed, and we will no longer be able to live on it. This will happen, but when Christ
comes, until then we will be here and God will save this world from destruction. The
biblical promise is for us and we must not become bitter. Let’s do our best. The fact
that we do not eat meat is already an extraordinary advantage, because we do not
contribute to the slaughterhouse industry that pollutes so much. “While the earth
remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and
night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22.
Living in Christ
“Bitterness and animosity must be banished from the soul if we would be in
harmony with heaven.” The Desire of Ages, pg. 310. “Let all bitterness, wrath,
anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”
Ephesians 4:31. Remove bitterness, as garbage is removed from our house so that
we do not get sick. We must work on our character to eliminate bitterness, which is
born in an anxious heart that does not trust God, because the bitterness lodged in the
soul deteriorates faith. It is not worth getting bitter, because this is a feeling that
distances us from God, does not allow us to be happy, and projects shadows and pain
towards others. The solution is in Christ, the only one who can dwell in the human soul
through the Holy Spirit and where Jesus lives there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).
May the Lord help us to base our faith in Christ and all that He is. Christ is the
only one who can burn the scum of bitterness so that the flowers of peace and security
will bloom in their place. This is my wish and prayer in the name of the Lord. God bless
The art of embittering one’s life 4
José Vicente Giner
Pastor and Youth Department Leader
of the General Conference
1. What does it mean to self-injure?
2. What do you understand by fear of the future?
3. What do you understand by the fear of men?
4. What does it mean to live in Christ