The concept of a bitter root is so descriptive. I grow pretty bitter myself towards a couple of types of roots in my garden because I didn’t plant them and they are strangling the plants that I intentionally planted that are beautiful and provide stunning blossoms. But my weeds and invasive plants didn’t get the memo and even if they had I don’t think they would have listened because they are extremely difficult to pull out and eradicate. They have deep roots and they aren’t giving up.
Bitterness is like that…it never wants to give up. Just watch people with a grudge. As time is marching on in this life, I suspect that one of the things we as Christians are going to have to guard against is bitterness. We are surrounded by a cynical and jaded environment, which I think has been an attribute of the world culture for quite a while, however, what is new for us as believers is the complete assault on our ability to raise our children in a way that is consistent with our belief in the Bible. In every arena, whether school, health care, entertainment, and even shopping we see the societal and political forces at work trying to sway us to latch on to philosophies that are morally bankrupt.
At times like this, my bent is to grow bitter. I resent that children are not free to be innocent from agendas that do not bring life to the soul, but instead confusion and stress. However, the solution is not for me to grow bitter but more prayerful and more mindful of my speech.
The author of Hebrews wrote: “ Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 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.” Hebrews 12:14-15
The most influential people I know are passionate about what they fight for, but they use their words carefully and wisely. Their words make a great impact not because they yell louder and use more expletives, but because they articulate their concerns with clarity, truth and authority. They know their topic. Most importantly their words mean something because they live with integrity…no hypocrisy. We don’t see that much these days, but I think that it is something that will catch the eye of people looking for hope…when our passion for truth and God are wedded to lives lived with integrity and holiness. Conversely, if we allow Satan to get a grip on us by being bitter because life isn’t the way it used to be, we will miss out on opportunities to be the light because we are too busy looking in the rear view mirror.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave [a]you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
“Jesus, would you please help us to keep our eyes on you and keep us far from the poison of bitterness. Help us to pray for those that are in opposition to you Lord and your Word. Guide us in our speech, that it would be powerful and mighty in grace and truth and always seasoned with love, for your glory. In Jesus Name. Amen.”