Bitter people believe life’s dealt them a bad hand. They resent their problems and experience inner turmoil. They compare their lives constantly and believe others have it so much better.
Proud people want everyone to know how successful they are. They turn their – or their family’s – achievements into a daily news bulletin on social media – or they just remain quietly smug when they witness the struggles of others.
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis claims that pride prevents us from drawing close to God.
“As long as you are proud you cannot know God,” he says. “A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
Whether we’re struggling with bitterness, pride – or both – our focus is largely on other people. We either think we’re worse off, or better, than others. It’s only when we focus on our lives in relation to God and his plan and purpose, that we discover true meaning and joy in life.
I love the imagery in Lewis’s quote. We can choose to look down, or look up. When we look up, we realize all we have – whether it’s money or a great family or an amazing friendship group – is from His hand. He is the great gift-giver. Yes, he’s given us talents, and the ability to make money and connect with people. But ultimately we are his creations – his masterpieces – and all good things are from his hand.
Looking up also helps us to deal with the bitterness. Looking into the face of Jesus, who died for us and offers hope and an eternity with him, is a good start when we’re mourning the losses.
I’ve been bitter, and I’ve been proud – often many times in the space of a day. But when I look upwards I can see my life for what it really is – a beautiful gift given by God. And I don’t want to waste it playing the comparison game.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)