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Bane of Bitterness


The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)



In California a horrifying drama played out as the authorities conducted a successful manhunt for a crazed killer. It is alleged that Christopher Dorner murdered four people. The particulars of the case are truly frightening and bizarre. Terminated with cause by the LAPD, Dorner planned revenge against both those who he believed wronged him and their family members. It is almost like a plot out of a best selling crime novel; but this is no piece of fiction, it is real. Then, there is the manifesto. Dorner laid out his plans for murder in terrible detail. The diatribe speaks rage and bitterness. The ex-lawman was not out for justice rather his goal was his own version of revenge.


Should we be surprised given our culture? Figure this: a popular TV program is titled REVENGE. Real life mirrors fictional TV where the goal is vengeance, retribution…getting even. You have wronged me and I will make you pay. I will be the judge, jury and executioner.


This bitter emotion is as old as humanity and was the precursor to the first murder. Cain was angered because his own sacrifice was not accepted and Abel’s was. If Cain’s anger would kindle against anyone logically it would be against God who rejected his offering.  But Cain rages against Abel. Cain could not strike the Divine so he struck against the Divine’s creation. Cain’s bitter, hateful action was similar in scope to the evil actions of Dorner.


Dorner was not engaging in an eye for an eye; his specific targets had nothing to do with his dismissal from his job. Lest anyone say to the contrary, there was nothing ‘old testament’ about his actions. Please do not sully the word of God! There was not a scrap of justice in this man’s actions.


A scriptural response is this:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-21)


“I can’t do that!” you say. The question is never what we can do; it IS what Christ can do in us by the life and attitude altering power of the Holy Spirit. Dorner rejected Christianity, it says so in his writings, and he allowed evil to pervade and overcome him. Bitterness poisoned Christopher Dorner. We, as Christians, are called to overcome evil with good. We must not drink the cup of bitterness that Dorner did. If we hang on to a sense of woundedness and nurse hurts and grudges we allow the poison of bitterness to seep through us.


We are called to a different standard that that of the world…we obey so very imperfectly, it seems, for we are in the midst of re-creation. He who called is faithful.



Copyright © 2013 Brian Bailey, Author