Add Link Play Play Alt Pause Prev Next Arrow More Arrow Back Download Download Link
Back to Blog

April 20, 2024 | Daily Devotionals | April 20

Bitterness the Thief 


Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:31-32


Ruth’s story in the Bible, if summarized as a Netflix movie description: “A foreign widow emigrates to a strange land with her bitter mother-in-law, where she knows no one, clings to her faith, and discovers her destiny.” Ruth’s tenacity is a bit confounding—she leaves Moab (the only home she’s ever known) with her tired, angry mother-in-law Naomi to go live in a place called Bethlehem. Why not just stay, find a new husband, and be with her people? 


Instead, Ruth makes a five-day journey by foot across inhospitable hardscrabble, enduring the complaints of Naomi, who tells her to start calling her Mara—which means “bitter” in Hebrew. Sounds fun, right? (I, for one, love my mother-in-law … just for the record.)


While Ruth gets the star cred in this story, Naomi deserves a best supporting actress nomination. Her story in a nutshell: She follows her husband Elimelech to a foreign land (Moab) because there’s a famine in Bethlehem (which, ironically, means “bread”). He dies there, along with his two sons, leaving his wife and two daughters-in-law to fend for themselves. Basically, at the first sign of trouble the dude panicked, abandoned his destiny as an Israelite under God’s protection, and fled to a forbidden place outside the spiritual covering God had promised His people. Can you relate? Ever move too hastily into something only to have it blow up in your face? 


So here’s the plot reveal: Mara (“the mother-in-law formerly known as Naomi”) loses faith and hope, and Ruth doesn’t. And guess where Ruth learned about the one true God? Yep, from her mother-in-law! In fact, because of Ruth’s faithfulness, and the favor that God shows her, Mara does an about-face and tells people to call her Naomi again. Men of God: When we walk in bitterness, typically because of dumb stuff we’ve done but wrongly blame on God, we are in danger of losing the plot in the epic film God has written for us. And yes, sometimes crud happens that isn’t our fault. In either case, bitterness is tempting. 


Don’t take the bitterness bait—it is the thief of joy. Like Ruth, hold fast to the faith and the God that brought you this far. Clinging to your Moab—that place of betrayal or disappointment it still hurts to think about—gets you nothing but bitterness. Is letting go easy? God knows it’s not. We need help sometimes, which is hard to admit to our “capable selves,” and even harder to do. Don’t be Mara. Be Ruth.


Father, help me surrender past pain that causes present bitterness. Thank you for healing me. 


Join the Every Man Ministries newsletter

By joining you will receive daily devotionals straight to your inbox and much more