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April 25, 2015

Text: ‘”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

On the way to heaven there are innumerable stumbling blocks that Satan can utilize to derail us on the way to our destination. He could employ hate, lust, greed, ambition, anger and many others. But he may use one of his favorites (in my judgement)  discouragement and bitterness. The reason these are so effective is that they are great diversionary tactics. Once he has you hooked with these diversions  you forget about allowing goodness to be victorious over them, and lose sight of forgiveness. But bitterness is our present subject.

Realize that bitterness sours your soul. It really starts “tearing you apart”. You find yourself brooding over your personal hurts and offences. You embed these anguishes into you heart and make them fester as you visit these heartaches repeatedly.  Have you a complaint that you can’t seem to resolve? But you do have the ability to work out the problem. Or is there an enemy who has offended or harmed you?  You and you alone are the only one who can conquer your feelings abut such matters!

Speaking of feelings, bitterness is the seedbed of hatred. It turns your hatred on others. This type of undergrowth chokes good feelings toward many persons: enemies, friends who wound you, those of another race, wives, husbands, the rich, the poor, and others. Bitterness destroys friendship. Is there anyone to whom you will not speak? Chances are that bitterness is the underlying destructor of that kind of feud. To illustrate: The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys was often referenced in tales of American folklore.  During the Civil War, Asa Harmon McCoy enlisted in the Union army, while the Hatfields favored the Confederacy. The Union Army discharged Harmon McCoy and he hid in a cave near his home in Pike County, Kentucky. He was discovered and shot to death by a group of  West Virginians called the Wildcats (Southerners), among whom were several of the Hatfields. That was  on January 7, 1865. And thus was born the feud that lasted from 1863 to 1891.  The writer of Hebrews foresaw the possibility of the sufferings of his readers could have crushed them so as to turn back to the world. “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened you endured a hard struggle with sufferings…”  Hebrews 10:32  For seeing the results of such sufferings, he is justified to write: “…but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Hebrews 3:6

Also, bitterness destroys our peace. Warfare worms its way into our hearts and into our external relationships. Jesus left us a legacy of peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” John 14:27  Peace needs nourishment; bitterness flourishes on strife in the heart. Forget the injurious words or deeds that  fuel this fire in your soul. Stop visiting these old thoughts that inflame your thoughts of revenge. Think of good things to be cultured in your soul.

This leads us to the things that are the bane of bitterness.

Forget yourself. Remember the golden rule. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you do also to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12  Other people have to be moved into your heart while you evict your self as the lone consideration. Listen to the apostle Paul: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  Philippians 3:2 Forget yourself and learn to love others. Oh the peace and satisfaction you will find! 

Abandon anger.  A professor of mine said, “Anger is an acid that does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to the thing upon which is poured.” Yes, we aim our anger at others and it actually fuels bitterness in ourselves. Anger seldom has a good outcome; bitterness of soul taints and destroys self and others. “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  Jesus seemed never to speak in anger. May we acquire his even-temperedness in our hearts and behavior.

Mend your bridges. Much rancor and harm are possible when two friends have a falling out. Good friendships are very precious; too precious are they for friends to turn friendship into hatred. Paul called for a reconciliation between two sisters in the church at Philippi. (Philippians 4:2)  Jesus told how to bring about harmony. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have  gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15  Be the bigger person. Initiate reconciliation.

The great songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics to  a song that we may want to remember as a help to defeat bitterness.

Accentuate the positive,

Eliminate the negative,

Latch onto the affirmative,

Watch out for Mr. Inbetween.























One Comment
  1. Larry permalink

    Yes! This is a needed subject, and your thoughts are very helpful. Bitterness sinks many ships.

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