Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Bitter Root

Beware lest a root of bitterness well up within you and by it may be defiled.  Hebrews 12:15 

God’s greatest gift is the gift of faith - it enables us to have a relationship with Him.  His second greatest gift is forgiveness which enables us to have a relationship with others and for God to have relationship with us.  
When we choose not to forgive, we set the stage for bitterness to take over.  If left unchecked, bitterness will destroy you from the inside out and your relationships as well.  There is no greater deterrent to good relationships in business, marriage, family, and the church than bitterness.  Satan has found a tool that can ravage the land of any man's life in the inability to forgive others or self.
In our human weakness, we ultimately fail one another.  At some point in our lives, we all experience broken relationships, either in marriage, work, family, or friends.  These broken relationships are largely because of our lack of ability (or refusal) to forgive.  The only response to wrong that the Word of God commends the Christian to is love.  There is no right to judge, condemn, criticize or hate.  This requires more than a human understanding or response. A forgiveness of Grace is the response of God through me to others who have wronged me.  
Bitterness is a hard thing.  Bitterness is like a cancer.  It begins as a cell and while at first it is seemingly insignificant and may go undetected, it grows silently until it destroys and consumes its host. Then we begin to spread the disease as we gather those who will take up offense on our behalf.  It is hard not to be bitter towards someone who has hurt us or doesn’t treat us right. But the bitterness you hold in your heart will only hurt you.  It will most likely have little effect of the other person.  With God’s help, you can get rid of it with much focused prayer and determination.
God calls us to love others like He loves us, and that means grace and forgiveness are included.  Love, grace and forgiveness are a package deal.  They must co-exist in a relationship for it to work. The minute you ask God to change the other person is the minute you need to open your eyes and heart to God changing you.  We cannot be responsible for other people’s actions, but we are responsible for our own and what we allow to take over our hearts.  We only answer to God for ourselves. 
Relationships are meant to be a model of our relationship with God, which is all about grace and forgiveness. He loves us relentlessly and forgives unceasingly.  He knows that we can’t love others the way He loves us, but He does want us to lean on Him and work to reflect His love in our lives.  So often I think about the grace He gives me and how much I need that grace.  I don’t always want to pour out grace in the same measure I have received it.  My human heart struggles with bitterness and resentment but my heart also struggles with my failures, making me very aware of the undeserving measures of grace I exist on.  God’s desire for our relationships is that He is made known and put on display for all through those relationships.  He wants us to extend mercy, grace, and forgiveness to others as we have been given, and wish to be given in the future.  We will fully grasp the power of forgiveness when we know peace in forgiving others and joy in receiving God’s forgiveness for us. 

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:31-32

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