Hebrews 12.15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Bitterness is destructive. As we read this verse from Hebrews we see this strong command to not all a bitter root to grow.
Bitter people are hurt people and that hurt can come about as a result of so many events and circumstances. We can be hurt by things people have said, by things people have done, and by things that have been taken from us.
We will not go through life without been hurt.
I know that I have held on to injustices (real and sometimes perceived), and how quickly doing so can lead to bitterness. Bitterness in turn has effects on us and on people around us. It can rob us of a sense our peace, the root of bitterness can take hold of our mind and we can’t seem to shake it.
As a result bitterness can affect us physically and emotionally. Sometimes we can’t hide it, it appears on our faces, and it affects the way we act. We become critical, we become angry, we become defensive, we become judgmental, it can cause us to build walls. We protect ourselves from hurt by not allowing people close to us.
The bitterness becomes a constant companion it has taken root. S.I. McMillen, in his book “None of these Diseases” said: “The moment I start hating a person I become that person’s slave. I can’t enjoy life…he controls my thoughts…I can’t escape his/her grasp on my mind. He or she may be many miles away, always in my mind.”
Bitterness leads to hatred.
How do we combat it? Derek Kidner writes that ‘An obsession with enemies and rivals cannot be simply switched off, but it can be ousted by a new focus…’
So what should that focus be? Look at what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 3:17-19
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Let a different root take hold of you, the root of love. And as we do that learn that we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us.
Here are some practical steps.
1.Choose to live in the present and not the pastWe can’t change the past, but we can change how we will deal with it going into the future.
2.Choose to forgive those who have hurt you. We are called to forgive as God has forgiven us. Ask God to help in doing this.
3.Remember that in the injustice, God is present. God is the God of justice, and he cannot be unjust. As someone wrote, God is reoccupied with justice, he sent his son to the cross.
5.Choose not to retaliate. Vengeance is God’s business, not ours.
We need to remember that God is a sovereign God, and this means he is sovereign even over the evil things people do. Look again at the story of Joseph in Genesis and what he says in chapter 50. God will use even that evil act, that harmful word, that event that has robbed you of something to ultimately work out his plans for you. He will always work to accomplish what is for your best. Romans 8.28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
This week think about that metaphor of the root as it relates to bitterness. Is there something you need to deal with? Is there something you are holding on to because you can’t or you don’t want to let it go.
Is there a seed of bitterness that you are aware of that might be taking hold of your life?
Don’t let bitterness take root. Dig it out and throw it away.
Quoting again something I read this week (i’ve forgotten where I found it)
‘Bitterness is a sin, and sin is never ok. If you live with bitterness it is because you choose to.’
I’m very conscious as i write these words that overcoming bitterness can be difficult and a process, and processes take time.
If you need help please ask we have people who will support you and pray for you, and if professional help is needed (as it can be) then seek it