The Characteristics of A Bitter Person

  • They are full of self-pity
  • They are very ungrateful
  • They are very selfish
  • They are very Insincere
  • They find it very hard to forgive
  • They sow discord
  • They are full of pride
  • They are envious and covetous
  • They feel joy out of someones misfortune
  • They are very critical
  • They are fault finders
  • They are plotters
  • They are very vindictive
  • They desire to see others suffer
  • They look out for reason to get back at people
  • They are always looking for a fight
  • They are drowning in animosity and resentment
  • They see only themselves
  • They hide and camouflage themselves
  • They attract like minded people like themselves
  • They are full of malice, wrath, anger, clamour, rage, slander and evil speaking 

How does bitterness starts?

All bitterness starts from an offence taken. It starts with an individual becoming offended by someone are offended about something that they believed was done to them. As such, bitterness is one of the besetting sin.  The difference between bitterness and the other besetting sins is that it is the only sin in the bible that is said to have a root. Consequently, bitterness has the ability to go into all other areas spreading its roots and affecting many other things. In Hebrews 12:15 the bible specifically alerts us to: “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Bitterness not only affect the bitter person but because it grows and it sends out roots all over; it affects and corrupts many. This wicked sin can affect everyone and everything. In every bitter person is a root of envy. One of the most well-known stories of bitterness in the Bible is told in the first book of the bible with two brothers; Cain and Abel. Cain becomes consumed by bitterness towards his brother when he feels unjustly treated in comparison to his brother Abel. Cain killed his brother out of rage and hatred and pity for himself. This classic story warns us of the sinful essence of bitterness and that it can result in rage and murder. We must take ownership of our feelings and relinquish what is out of our control to God.


The Dictionary defined bitterness as: “A feeling of deep anger and resentment. Bitterness is an emotion which encompasses both anger and hate, often people who are bitter appear to the world as just going around upset at everyone and everything. However bitterness is often a result of some past event which has hurt and scarred the person.The apostle Paul specifically warns and cautions us in Ephesians to: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). The word bitter comes from the ancient Greek meaning “sharp or pointed.” Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a bitter person with a predisposition for ‘sharp-tongued’ remarks knows that words—especially carefully crafted by a wordsmith’s hateful, scornful mouth—can often cut quite deeply. They desire to make someone else suffer. A bitter person might spew their inner hurt and anger by saying and doing things that hurt the feelings of others, exhibiting ruthless verbal and emotional cruelty. 

Why Does Bitterness Happens?

Bitterness sets in when someone focuses on the hurt; assumed or real they believed was done to them in the past. The bitter person’s perception of damage done to them and their vengeful response exceeds the reality of what actually happened. Bitterness will make a person says and does things in the most irrational and self-defeating ways. Once bitterness takes hold, it’s grip is like that of the snake called – a boa constrictor. It does not want to let go. That is why, it grows sending out its roots affecting the life of others. 

The Thought Pattern Of A Bitter Person?

A bitter person refuses all rationals and only accepts and sees their own rational. It’s almost like they have disconnect from reality; except their own perceived and acknowledged sense of what the reality is. When a person is bitter, they believe that someone else is the problem. Not them. So how can you convince a bitter person that something might be wrong with the way they are thinking and/or acting. One must lovingly, thoughtfully and firmly confront the bitterness head on. A person harbouring bitterness needs to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean pretending everything is “OK.”  Forgiveness is simply the act of surrendering our desire for revenge; that is, our desire to hurt someone for having hurt us to God. Forgiveness is the gift from God to us and others that enables us to release all the hurts to God. The word of God tells us to forgive so that we can be forgiven. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sin”(Matthew 6:14-15). Similarly, we are entreated in Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

What Do All Bitter People Have In Common?

1) They desire to make someone else suffer

A bitter person might spew their inner hurt and anger by saying and doing things that hurt the feelings of others, exhibiting ruthless verbal and emotional cruelty. Somehow, it makes the bitter individual feel better for a minute to see someone else suffer as they perceive themselves to be unfairly suffering.

2) They are full of vindictiveness

They will go to any lent to get back at someone and it does not matter who is that person. In 2 Samuel 15:1-12 , Absalom the son of King David, turns against his father the King. In the opening verses of chapter 15 we see him acting like the king already. He even intercepts people on their way to King David’s court in order to subvert the normal order of law: Absalom had what he believed to be a complaint against his father King David; which resulted into deep bitterness.  He sat on his offence/anger for years and he allowed it to develop into bitterness resulting in a revolt against his own father.

3) They lookout for reasons to get back at people

Bitter people often invent ways to get back at those they view as having neglected, mistreated, disrespected, or ignored them. They will always find the occasion or make the occasion to get back at people. They are very callous, cold and calculating in what they do and they like to stand aside watch things happened and even applause themselves secretly feeling good about what they have done. Take Absolon again for example, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.’ Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.” He is essentially saying “There is no one from the king who can help you. If I were in charge, I could do things the right way.” It all comes to the final implication, “Trust me instead of my father David!” And because it comes from so close to home – the son of the king he was able to sway many of the people against his father the king.

4) They wash themselves in self-pity

The bitter person often feels cheated by others and short-changed by life in general.It’s almost impossible for such a person to experience genuine gratitude because of how much they feel they’ve been denied their due. They often feel so sorry for themselves and rally others to feel the same as they do. They are very vengeful and spiteful, they seek to cause torment in the lives of those whom they view as being inadequately caring or inattentive towards them.They are incapable of feeling love; no matter how much they are given its like they are a vacuum that sucks and drains the life and energy out of a person or an atmosphere. 

5) They are looking for a fight

When a person is chronically bitter, they’re often in an antagonistic mindset and looking for a fight. If they can’t find one, they will think nothing of doing things to cause one.They’ll say or do something to start it up. After it’s over, they will feel a little better, while almost everyone else feels terrible.

6) They Are Full of Pride

From the bitter person’s point of view, it’s the world that’s done them wrong and deserves the full expression of their blameful wrath. Bring their hateful behavior to their attention in the wrong way, and attempt to get them to see how it’s led to their alienation from others, and you’ll probably find out even more how uncaring, insensitive, hurtful and harmful they are.

7) They are drowning in animosity and resentment

A bitter person will find it hard to experience happiness at the success or well-being of others. Instead, the bitter person views the good fortune of someone else as more evidence that they have not been given a fair chance themselves. In their opinion, it’s time to mercilessly take their subject down a notch or even murder (Cain and Abel). That is why one of the characteristics of a bitter person is envy. The bitter soul simply cannot see beyond their immediate wants. It’s all about them and they are inherently emotionally needy.The intensity of their neediness severely impairs their capacity to be cognizant of the needs and emotions of others. They are detached and selfish, only caring about their own ailments whether real or make believeIn the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and also by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12, we are warned never to: “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Therefore: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21). As we look at the tree below in the picture; we see a beautiful green tree above ground but that tree is sending its root everywhere it find a spot to go in the earth. So it is with bitter people they spew their bitter venom everywhere they go. We are commanded by the word of God to forgive so that no root of bitterness has a chance to spring up. We must not let our sense of hurt turn into bitterness. Instead, we must believe that God will sort it all out. That God will take care of it. We must value mercy over vengeance and truly surrender all hurts to God.

Adrian Rogers – Bitterness Blows Out The Candle of Joy

More people have a root of bitterness than we may think. A bitter person is harsh, critical, judgmental, sarcastic they are filled with anger but they are not always like that. Sometimes they are like an iceberg, very cool, very aloof. They are politely indifferent to people. They have an air about them that I don’t need anybody. However, like and iceberg their problem is beneath the surface. They wallow in self-pity. They are often sad and their problem is because they are eaten up with bitterness.  Bitterness has done untold damage to communities. It has done untold damages to churches. Untold damage to homes.

The bible tells us in Colossians 3:19 “Husbands love your wives and be not bitter against them.” Sometimes rather than being the ‘better half, they are the bitter half.’  Many people in churches are chained in a prison of bitterness. Bitterness does more to hold back the power of God than alchoal or pornorgraphy. It keeps the people of God from having the power of God and the wholeness of God that they need in their heart and in their lives. Much of this bitterness is found in the people of God. We have bitter brothers, sour sisters, caustic Christians. In the root of bitterness are three factors.

The Germination of Bitterness – How does the root get there. How does it germinate. There are two things in order for germination, one is the seed and the other is the soil. What is the seed of bitterness, that hurt is the seed of bitterness.  The hurt may have been intentional or it maybe unintentional. The person recieve hurt from someone who did not mean to hurt them; in many cases the person may not even know that they hurt you. Sometimes the hurt is even imagined. Nothing has been done to the person; but somehow they feel that somebody has done something to them. What is the soil? The soil is a heart that harbours hostility. It does not deal with the hurt with the Grace of God and so the person becomes bitter as it goes beneath. It takes roots and it grows and the root goes deeper. Once you get that hurt in your heart and once you harbour it there; then you began to look for things to criticize, things to find fault with, to justify the way that you feel. 

The Devastation of Bitterness –  Once again, Hebrew 12:15 speaks of a root of bitterness that spring up. It does not just stay on the ground; it spring up. Bitterness will trouble you personally and trouble society all of those around you. This devastation of bitterness produces a root and a fruit. The root is underground; its easy to hide and easy to camouflage. Rarely will a bitter person admit that they are bitter person. They will either deny or disguise it. A bitter person is a very sensitive person; a very touchy person; one must be very careful around a bitter person. If a bitter person walk into a room and two people talking and then it gets quiet; the bitter person will think that they were talking about him/her. A bitter person has little or no gratitude A person infected by bitterness is a very ungrateful person. Why because you cannot be bitter and praise and you cannot have gratitude without praising. A bitter person is a very insincere individual; they will never deal with an individual on a truth level; hardly ever. A bitter person hold grudges against people; for a very long time. They find it very hard to be thankful. They find it very hard to forgive so much so that the bitterness produces fruits. What is the fruit? Bitterness is an acid that destroys its container. Bitterness troubles the soul and the spirit. If you are harbouring bitterness, it will affect you physically, spiritually and mentally.  Bitterness has a chain reaction it affects everyone around. 

The Eradication of Bitterness – How do we get to this root of bitterness. First of all let God reveal it. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). The root of bitterness is underground not visible – yet it is spreading. So we must let God reveal and let His grace remove it.  If we do not have the grace of God even when God shows us that the bitterness is there, it will never come out. The Grace of God first works by forgiving us of the bitterness. No matter what someone has done to you; your reaction is wrong. Remember grace is divine enablement – thus grace is the desire and the ability to do the Will of God. Let God reveal the bitterness and let His grace remove it. It takes two to forgive; Jesus and you. Forgiveness is costly but it is worth it. Let God reveal the bitterness, let His grace remove it and let good replace it. In Hebrews 12:14 “Follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” Peace and holiness are linked together. Hatred and hellishness are linked together. You cannot have holiness unless you want to follow peace with all men. It does not mean that all people are going to be at peace with you. You can pursue peace, you can follow peace. You must let go off the bitterness and forgive because the person or persons you are bitter towards you are on the hook with them. When you forgive you set two people free and one of them is yourself. Remember the seed is a hurt, the soil is a heart that harbours the hurt. The root is underground but the fruit is above ground and only God can deal with that root. 

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