Posted by: JennyRain | January 25, 2010

The Price of Bitterness

Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.         

Hebrews 12.14-16 MSG

The past two years, I have been immensely impressed with a friend of mine who has been working on reducing her “bitterness meter.”

She had experienced some things with a company that were deplorable. There were things she was entitled to that the company would not give to her.

My friend had every right to be mad, and to stay mad.

She was mad, for a while, but then through prayer, time, and extending grace to herself, she began to realize that God was calling her to move beyond her bitterness.

Even though she had the right to be mad. Even though she had legal reasons to support her anger. Even though the company did her wrong.

Yet despite all this, God was challenging my friend to work on her bitterness and unforgiveness.

Unbelievable! This just feels so unfair to me.

So I watched my friend honor God by surrendering her feelings and her rights until she was free of them. She gifted them to God and has not taken them back.

Talk about amazing grace.

It was one of the most incredible stories of forgiveness I have ever seen someone go through.

Just in time too… because that company offered her a job recently, she has accepted, and I have this sense that God is going to do amazing things with her return… because she willingly obeyed when God said “Get rid of the bitterness.”

Bitterness is deadly.

God says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

I am learning that there is a difference between allowing bitterness to linger, and allowing bitterness to “grow up.”

If something is allowed to grow up, it progresses beyond the stage of being a root, into a full-blown tree.

Then the tree lingers like an unwanted shadow blocking out the sun. It casts a shadow on your life. When you pull others into your world, it casts a shadow on their life too.

The bitter root that is “all growed up” has now become a tree that infects you, and the people around you.

Bitter roots cause rotten fruit.

There is only one kind of fruit that can come from bitter sap – rotten.

People struggling with bitterness tend to “sap” the life out of those around them – perhaps because their own sap is rotten and not conducive for giving life.

People struggling with bitterness keep producing what they are trying not to – bad fruit. Fruit that is not healthy for eating. Fruit that rots on the vine and falls to the ground – useless. Fruit that is not picked, so it weighs down the branches.

Bitter roots have no redeeming purpose.

But yet they persist and they are sneaky little critters. Sometimes they come disguised and appear good, or lovely, or holy, like the “bitter root” plant below.

Bitter root flower

Ugh. Another level of complexity!

I’m struggling with some bitter roots this week.

Some negative thinking that I have allowed to take root. Some frustrations that I have allowed to linger. Some expectations that have been left unmet, thus causing me to “stuff and stew” over them until they result in bitterness.

A bitter root can do only one thing – explode into rotten fruit.

So that’s where I am this week… struggling with my bitter root, trying to clean up my mashed up rotten fruit… not sure how to make it go away.

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