Bitter Root, Bitter Fruit

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled… -Hebrews 12:15

Who wants to miss out on the grace of God? Not me! Yet, the writer of Hebrews tells us we can miss out on the God’s grace when we let a bitter root spring up in our lives. The flow of God’s grace doesn’t stop, but like a kinked water hose, we restrict the flow.

So, how then does this bitter root spring up? Like any vegetation, it begins when a seed is planted – harsh words, a betrayal, an abuse, or anything else that wounds. If not dealt with in a healthy way, the hurt begins to take root in our hearts and from that root springs forth a plant that produces bitter fruit – negativity, a critical spirit, division, cynicism, slander, clamor, anger, wrath, and  malice just to name a few (Ephesians 4:31). Bitter root – bitter fruit.

Our natural response when we try to correct the bitter fruit we see in our lives is to merely pick at the fruit. But simply trimming the fruit will never get to the root of the problem. The entire root has to go! Like a stubborn weed in your garden; keep pulling at the top and missing the root and the persistent weed will keep coming back. There is only one way to eliminate the bitter fruit:

…forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness! Much easier said than done. But perhaps it’s because we have some misconceptions about forgiveness.

Forgiveness is NOT:

  1. Excusing the behavior or pretending it didn’t’ happen
    God knows your hurt. He knows the seed that was planted and who planted it. He also knows the bitter fruit that you’ve been producing because of it.
  2. Forgetting
    The human mind doesn’t work that way. Things that are seared into our memories are almost impossible to forget.
  3. Reconciling
    First of all, reconciling may not even be possible because the person who wounded you may not even still be alive. Furthermore, forgiveness doesn’t mean the relationship must be restored. You wouldn’t expect a battered wife to move back in with her husband if he hasn’t gotten the help he needs.

Forgiveness IS:

  1. Giving up revenge
    It’s not our job to settle the score. God will appropriate justice at the appropriate time (Romans 12:17-19). We can choose to get even or get well…to stay bitter or get better.
  2. Wishing the other person well
    Forgiveness means we actually hope good things for them. Begin to pray daily (even though it is hard at first) for blessings to come to the one who injured you.

Is unforgiveness really worth kinking the hose on God’s grace?

Ryan Smallwood