Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 18, 1968

The Bitter And The Sweet

Leslie Diestelkamp

The angel told John to eat the little book, noticing that it would "make thy belly bitter, but shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey"(Rev. 10:9). And there are many things in this world that seem so good to take but afterward they bring only bitter regret. Sin can be so subtle and it can appear in such a pleasant form and such an attractive disguise. But its results even in this life are usually painful, either to mind or body, and its final end is certain and eternal destruction (Rom. 6:23).

But consider with me the opposite of the angel's statement. There are so many of God's directives for us that seem bitter to take but the result is sweetness. In fact, almost all of God's requirements may indeed require submissiveness and surrender of the whole will of man, and this has never been anything less than "bitter medicine" for most of us. Yet, once we have truly committed our hearts and wills to the will of the Lord, the transformation becomes most satisfying even in this life, and provides the promise of eternal joy.

It is hard for an adulterer to reform, but when he has really done so, the new life of purity brings the joy of a clear conscience. It is very difficult for a drunkard to repent, but who is happier than one who knows he has really conquered such sinfulness? The liar, the thief, the grumbler must all struggle hard to achieve honesty, but their reward is partly gained in this life when they can face the whole world as honest men.

Some of God's positive instruction for us is also bitter to take. Few parents like to administer discipline to their children. Many times the parent can truthfully say to the child, "This hurts me more than it does you." But the disciplined mind of the child, the resulting quality of character produced and the satisfaction such a parent then knows are sweet rewards for the former bitter tasks.

Learning to give generously is not always pleasant. Those first efforts at teaching and preaching the gospel are often embarrassing and discouraging. Full acceptance of our own individual responsibility in world evangelism is often frightening and disconcerting. Desire for the office of a bishop brings also the awesome and humbling experience of self-examination. But all of God's challenges to us are for our own good. Our own lives are made happier when our service to man requires sacrifice and when our obedience to God requires devotion.

If we erroneously think God expects little of us, then we will surely have a poor comprehension of what he has in store for us. But if we must struggle for faith, fight for purity, toil for fruitfulness and tremble for security, then we will be able to visualize heaven because we have comprehended salvation -- "by grace are ye saved."

Let us face the bitter trials of this life with resolution, for there is great joy in overcoming, and, most of all, after this obstacle course is finished there is a great reward awaiting. What has been so bitter to get, to have and to keep in these few years will bring endless and matchless sweetness in eternity.

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