The Sin of Husbands: Bitterness
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Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (Colossians 3:19).
Divine revelation alerts husbands to their natural hindrance to loving their wives: bitterness. Bitterness is defined as “anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment” (Oxford); “a feeling of anger and unhappiness” (Cambridge).
Some husbands tell us that they can’t help the negative feelings that they have toward their wives. A husband may say that he can’t “help” having these feelings, but certainly one can “help” what is done about them. Negative “feelings” of bitterness or otherwise can’t be used as an excuse. Feelings are fickle. Feelings aren’t trustworthy. Feelings should never lead our way. Feelings are great servants, but dangerous masters. We must not allow ourselves to be dominated by our feelings.
In 1832 Adam Clarke writes concerning this passage,
Wherever bitterness is, there love is lacking. And where love is lacking in the married life, there is hell upon earth (Adam Clarke Commentary).
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown remind us that,
Many who are polite abroad, are rude and bitter at home (Commentary, 1871).
The divine, Pauline instruction, followed immediately after the directive to love our wives, is to “be not bitter against them.” A.T. Robertson tells us plainly that, “This is the sin of husbands,” and that it is in the “present middle imperative in prohibition: ‘Stop being bitter’” (Word Pictures of the New Testament).
Christ’s love was willingly self-sacrificial; yet ours is resentful? Does Christ resent the ecclesia for all that it puts Him through? Is He ever bitter and resentful toward us for all of His personal labors and loss sacrificed for us?
Negative feelings toward our wives should be for us an immediate indication of the hardness of our own hearts. We must ever look to the Savior for correction and encouragement of such sinful attitudes.
Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving.)