Pastoral Cynicism

Pastoral Cynicism

Pastoral Cynicism
By Missionary/Pastor David Cox

Let me first of all define “being cynical”. By this I mean that the pastor “has a bad attitude”, is unnecessarily critical, makes fun of or comments about people’s problems, etc. By this he simply speaks unadvisedly with his mouth about things that are happening in his church, ministry, or even personal life.

Part of this is a reaction by the pastor towards people, events, etc. It is usually a smartellic type mouth or comments about other people failing somehow. This attitude destroys a man of God’s reputation and ministry.

Ruth 1:13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. Ruth 1:20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. Ruth 1:21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

Bitterness is a reaction against things that God does in the life of a person. Bitterness is a grunt against God for having allowed these evil things to come to pass in the person’s life.

Human nature shouldn’t surprise us

First of all, I can understand a surprise or reaction from a very young pastor just starting off in his ministry. Fine. He has no experience, and he is learning. But really, once a pastor has a few years under his belt, he should well know that

1) Trust nobody, because if you confide in people, they will gossip that confidence around in a most hurtful way.

2) People will betray you, and even your most trusted people, and people that hurt the most when they do it.

3) People are wicked and vicious, always wanting to hurt, harm, destroy, etc. others.

4) People will not be loyal and faithful to the Lord on the average, and so there is no surprise when they aren’t faithful to you.

5) People will not come to your help most when you need it.

The list could go on, but you get the idea. What happens to destroy and hurt us, our ministry before the Lord, and directly the Lord’s work happens. We should not be surprised.

That seed of bitterness

What I have seen is a seed of bitterness of God’s man against God’s people (many unconverted among them that obviously are the worse offenders).

1John 2:9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

In other words, bitterness is something that identifies a person as being outside of God’s grace. This is both those who cause bitterness in others (infectious people) and also the victims. True Christianity triumphs over bitterness by believing that God is in control, even when everything seems to go bad.

Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Bitterness is simply a form of malice (evil, or an evil heart seeking to manifest itself).

Rom 3:14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

Do not fool yourself into thinking that bitterness (letting that bitterness in your soul come out through your mouth).

Analysis of Bitterness

Bitterness is an infectious sin, that in itself does not originate with the person, but with other people dealing with or treating the person in an incorrect way. This must be understood as a powerful and dangerous sin that overtakes and consumes people if not checked quickly and forcefully.

Acts 8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.


Jonah 4:9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

Jonah thought he had a right to be bitter and angry. God raised up a shade tree for him to sit under and watch the wrath of God fall. When just as fast that shade tree disappeared, Jonah was anger, and rightfully so in his opinion. The issue is that God cannot do as he wills, both sending good or evil. We DESERVE GOOD ONLY! That is the thought.

Jas 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

What is that truth that being vocally bitter wars against it? It is a war against God as the controller of our lives. Consider that many people turn the unfortunate events of live against God. They accuse God of causing them. Notice the key point here, God is God, and everything that happens comes from his hand. Of course that is true! So what is the problem here? Very simply, that “thing” that God has sent to you if unfair, unrighteous to be done to you, that you do not deserve it (assuming that it is a punishment when it is simply a hardship), etc. We interpret evil intent in God’s heart by sending us something difficult, bad, or that causes us lose, suffering, ill fame, etc.

Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

The word “evil” here is more the idea of calamity, but it is something that is not considered good for me. It is something that I would shun and refuse always because of its damage to me (my view of it).

When we consider the book of Job, our understanding is enlightened. Job did nothing wrong. Job was not really bad in his character, but God clearly states that he is righteous. It is hard to place wrong at Job’s feet when God sets the scene with Job being righteous.

But the truth of the matter is that what happened to Job made him stronger. But Job being stronger is not the point of the book of Job. The purpose of the book of Job is to make man understand that God is God. “God” creates life, and then defines the limitations and conditions of that life, and at last, God end that life’s earthly existence. God has his purposes in doing what he does, even in evil falling upon his children.

Job 7:11 Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Job was right in that his suffering was not for any evil in his own heart and life. How did God cause Job’s suffering and in this case, God reveals exactly that fact, and we presume that all other cases of suffering, God is highly involved in deciding if it comes or not. God sets the boundaries for the thing from the get-go.

But even so, Job had to shut his mouth in the end. He had to reconcile himself to follow his God even when he couldn’t understand what or why things are happening the way they happen. Bitterness is really when you blame God for bad things happening in your life. You elevate yourself to the point where “you do not deserve anything bad to happen to you”, therefore when it does, you mouth bitterness that is ultimately against God himself.

Eph 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

There is a just and righteous anger according to Scripture. This “anger” is an emotion which comes forth from a situation which is unjust, not right, or pure sin. But the difference is in complaining (a wrong reaction) or moving against that sin. We “move against that sin”, by

  1. Being an example of righteousness instead of following that example of evil.
  2. Preaching against or publicly denouncing the sin involved (being careful not to attack people as a rule, the rule is broken when a false prophet promotes as right and just that which is not).
  3. Allowing that evil to affect us in such a way as we become bitter.

Personal offence must be set aside, and we must understand and live the fact that sin destroys people, and we are to hate the sin and love the sinner.

Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

ALL SIN, and I repeat ALL SIN is against God. We do not have the right nor privilege to react negatively against sinners when we are sinners ourselves. We see the mercy of a just and righteous God, and we compare that with also the great wrath and fury of that same God, and we humble ourselves, bow our heads, close our mouths, and hope and pray for the mercy of God both for ourselves and for those who sin around us. If God’s fury is unleased on sinful men, none of us can stand. It is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ that anybody sees the mercy of God at all. This is humbling.

To be sacrastic or cynical about other’s failures and sin is be haughty as if we never sin ourselves. This is a great problem. It brings God’s condemnation on us, even when we are saved. God will judge us as his children when we ridicule sin or sinners. It is a serious subject.

Solution for Bitterness

1Pet 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Jesus, our perfect example, showed us how. When things do not work out for us, we need to yield our lives to God, accepting and allowing God to do whatsoever God desires to do for us.