No Place for Bitterness

Okay, I am not writing about what sparked me while singing a song at church yesterday. This must mean that God really wants me to address another topic that arose during Pastor Benson’s sermon, Surviving Persecution. The text was Hebrews 12:14-15. “14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

The word that jumped of the page and resonated in my ear was bitterness. Bitterness is a feeling/emotion that stems from something that is difficult to accept such as being disappointed or hurt. It is also defined as holding on to or showing feelings of intense, strong, animosity (hatred, anger), resentment or vindictiveness (wanting to get back at someone). Other words that describe bitterness are: merciless, unforgiving, holding a grudge. In helping students daily, there isn’t an incident where bitterness is not involved. Normally, I would go on to share about an occurrence of students dealing with bitterness. The student today is me. I heard the Spirit of God loud and clear yesterday. Deal with the bitterness in your life. Why? Pastor Benson, the Written Word and the Living Word said, “ See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Simply put, bitterness is compared to a plant that takes root to pollute, taint, or make impure. It impacts the usefulness of the plant. It causes its fruit to not produce a good harvest.

The real reason we are told to get rid of bitterness is that turns our heart away from trusting in the Lord our God. Deuteronomy 29:18 says, “18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.” Bitterness is poison. Poison injures or destroys health or life. God is stating from the mountain top. Stay away from bitterness because it is a poisonous root that can defile your whole spirit, and seriously hurt and defile many others as well! This is not just about you but all who are around you especially those you love the most.

In reality, I rarely have bitter feelings towards those whom I don’t know or care about. I just get mad at them and move on getting over that momentary and isolated incident. For me, bitterness arises in those whom I relate to on a regular basis or those whom I love and relate to on a regular basis. God is saying that bitterness is a poison; yet, we tend to hold onto bitterness as if it is some type of super power. In reality, bitterness poisons our heart. We already know “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. As such, we don’t need the extra help. “Bitterness is very much like the South American vine known as the “matador.” Beginning at the foot of a tree, the matador vine slowly works its way to the top. But as it grows, it kills the tree, and when at last the top is reached, it sends forth a flower to crown itself. Matador literally means KILLER. Bitterness may appear harmless when it is small, but if it is allowed to grow, its tendrils of resentment, malice and hatred soon clasp themselves around the heart and eventually kill the soul.” (Berg)

This is why God’s Word exhorts us to “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.”–Eph.4:31. And that’s what this lesson is all about: How to recognise, deal with and get rid of the deadly root known as bitterness, so that you may freely love and serve the Lord and others unhindered by this destructive device of the Devil!–That we may “lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us!”–Hebrews 12:1.


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