Pam and I have seen the results of a bitter root and how it defiles families, upsetting holiday dinners, disrupting events of children, grandchildren and friends such as birthday parties and, even weddings. Non-communication, heaviness, and darkness in our lives become the debris left over from bitterness. We have seen a bitter root defile families down to the 3rd and 4th generation. The bitter root becomes overpowering, pervasive and emotionally injurious to ourselves and the ones we love. A family never gets its bearing. Too often the family ruptures with seemingly no hope of reconciliation. How tragic…but too often true! Many sweet people live out crushed lives as a result of bitterness.
Hebrews 12:15 is a forceful, palpable verse,” 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.” Grace is based on the sacrificial love of Jesus with a focus of loving, caring and supporting others. Bitterness is focused on me, my needs, my goals, my hurts, and how someone has disrupted my life. The root of bitterness collides with your relationships and, in many cases, impacts the welfare of their mental and emotional state resulting in wounds and ugly scars. Looking at the verse above, if we “fall short of the grace of God”, it becomes the devil’s picnic. He will eat you up and the others around you.
The Apostle Paul states it another descriptive way in Ephesian 4:26&27, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.” The devil does not need much time to get a foothold in your life. Once he does, a root of bitterness grows within you ultimately poisoning you and others.
Later on in Ephesians 4, Paul instructs us. “31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Throw off all the stuff that result from a root of bitterness recognizing this is not what resides in a child of God. Then, he tells us how to kill the bitter root in verse 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Forgiveness kills bitterness. There are two roots in this Greek word translated “forgive”. The first is the Greek word “char” which means joy. The second is the Greek word “charis” meaning grace. The outcome of forgiveness is joy and grace. A constant attitude of forgiveness keeps you from “falling short of the grace of God.”
The happiest people in the world are forgiving people. Rather than bitterness and acts of malice, they are “kind and compassionate.” These people are freed up to act like Jesus. Time to kill that root of bitterness in your heart with forgiveness. It may take courage but your life as well as the people around you will change.