Hebrews 12:15-17 warns,
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
Let’s take a few minutes to counsel one another about the corruption of bitterness and what steps we can take to kill this nasty weed.
What is bitterness and what does it do?
- Bitterness [harsh, distasteful attitude) springs from a shortage of grace (“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God”). When I am bitter against someone for sinning against me–intentionally or unintentionally–then I am not functioning as a grace-dispensing believer.
- Bitterness is a “root” attitude of heart. Roots grow downward, getting deeper and more deeply embedded and entangled. If my shortage of grace is prolonged then my heart will become increasingly hardened toward others.
- Bitterness has fruit that grows upward and outward, touching others (“springing up”). When I am bitter it is impossible for me to be the only one infected. Others around me will also be poisoned.
- Bitterness “causes trouble.” When I have nurtured the root of bitterness in my heart its rotten fruit will cause further harm, and lead to further sin. It is an entangling sin.
- Bitterness, if not repented of, can harden the heart to the point of no return (“Esau…found no place for repentance”). A sober warning!
Weed-killer for Bitterness
- Forgive from your heart those who have hurt you (Matthew 18:35).
- Bless those who have hurt you; overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19-21).
- Actively choose not to remember sins committed against you. Actively choosing not to remember is different than forgetting. In Jeremiah 31:34, God says he will “remember no more” the sins of his people. This is not memory failure, or forgetfulness. This is God’s conscious choice to no longer hold our sins against us. We must do the same with the sins of others.
- Destroy “lists of sins” committed against you, mental lists or actual, written lists (1 Cor. 13:5).
- Make peace with others, as much as is in your power (Rom. 12:18)
[This article was originally posted July 5, 2011.]