Don't Let Bitterness Weaken Your Life
By Rick Warren
— September 6, 2010
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)
"When you spend your entire life reacting to people instead of making your own choices, it will weaken your life."
The biblical strongman Samson had one extraordinary weakness: his primary motivation in life was simply to get revenge. His life was full of resentment and anger and so he was always reacting violently to people.
We see this several times in Judges 15. In verse 3, Samson said (v. 3), “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines.” Then, he says (v. 5), “Since you acted like this I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” Finally, in verse 11, he gives an excuse that is typical of a weak person (v. 11), “He answered, ‘I merely did to them what they did to me.’”
That was Samson's modus operandi: he was always reacting.
When you spend your entire life reacting to people instead of making your own choices, it will weaken your life.
“I merely did to them what they did to me.” Have you ever used that excuse?
When you think about it, resentment -- getting even -- is a waste.
- It's a waste of time. The whole time you're mad, the person you're upset toward is totally oblivious to it. Resentment always hurts you more than it does the other person.
- It's a waste of energy. You spend all that energy getting upset that you get depressed, fatigued, you run out of energy, and you're tired all the time. But worst of all …
- It’s a waste of creativity. Most of us, when we’re angry at somebody, we become extremely creative, thinking of ways to get back at that person.
When you look at Samson's life, you see a guy pretty creative at getting even. In Judges 15:3-5, "Samson said to them, `This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines. I will really harm them.' So he went out and caught 300 foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. Then he fastened a torch to every pair of tails. He lit the torches and let the foxes loose standing in the grain of the Philistines and he burned up all the shocks and the standing grain together with the vineyards and olive groves."
That's pretty creative! But that creativity ultimately led to his captivity and death.
What's the lesson out of Samson's life? It’s better to control your anger and choose to act rather than react against everybody. Or as Proverbs 29:11 says "A fool gives full vent to his anger. But a man of understanding controls himself."