Cursing and Bitterness

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
Romans 3:14 NLT

This time Paul quotes from Psalm 10:7, where we read, “Their mouths are full of cursing, lies, and threats. Trouble and evil are on the tips of their tongues”. The Greek version of this Psalm replaces “lies and threats” with “bitterness”. Psalm 10 is really part of an acrostic prayer or devotion that includes the previous Psalm, Psalm 9. Both were written by David, who filled the Book of Psalms with many comparisons between good and evil, between the God-followers and the God-deniers. 

But what makes mankind so willing to lapse into “cursing, lies, and threats”? The glib answer is sin. But underlying such sinful behaviour is a propensity to behave in a judgemental or critical way, starting with those round us in our families and communities. We take a negative view of anyone who is not behaving in a way that fits in with our own selfish value systems. And before we know it, we have lapsed into a mindset that builds and builds until our thoughts become angry. Our mental intentions include threats, and involve lies about the other person or people, without any foundation. And these thoughts then spill out in our conversations with others. Self-opinionated rants with little factual foundation pollute our speech, drawing others into our delusional behaviour. With the introduction of social media, “cursing, lies, and threats” have become far too common, with the offenders hiding behind anonymity to propagate their poison.

It wasn’t just David who pointed out the bad-mouthing carried out by sinful people. The Apostle James wrote in James 3:6, “And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself“. Strong words indeed. About our tongues, he continues, “Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3:9-10). Paul wrote some wise words in Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them“.

But what about our thoughts? How do we stop ourselves embarking on a negative trail of wrong thoughts? Not an easy question to answer, particularly if we’re tired, or mentally unhealthy. Thankfully, God is gracious and loving, and His Spirit will gently guide us back onto the right paths. Perhaps the Psalmist, David, had the right idea. Back to Psalm 5:1-3, “O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly“.  The King James version of Psalm 5:1 – “Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my meditation“. Perhaps that is the answer. As we meditate on His Words, there will be no room for “cursing, lies, and threats”.

Dear Father God. We thank You again for Your love and grace. You look into our sinful minds and, through Jesus, just see righteousness. We are so grateful. Amen.