“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”Hebrews 12:15
It has been said that bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die from it. I don’t know of anyone who has not dealt with bitterness in one way or another, and I know some who have been destroyed by it.
I grew up in church and attended the affiliated Christian school. I felt as though I was always being told what to do, and I honestly grew tired of my youth pastors and some members at church. My parents were quite active in ministry and they held leadership positions within the church. I felt the church leaders corrected me on everything from my hair cut to the clothes I wore. I wished I could go to another church, but that did not seem like it was going to happen anytime soon.
When I was a senior in high school, my dad’s job transferred him to Chicago and our family was leaving the state of AZ, which meant we were also leaving the church. I was excited to be leaving, and I could not wait for a fresh start. As my parents were leaders in the church for many years, the church planned to honor my family the week before we left.
My heart was full of anger and bitterness, and I was shedding no tears as I looked forward to walking out of the building for the last time. The church called my parents up to the platform to honor them and even called up my sister and me. I was partially shocked, but I came up to the platform grudgingly. I sat down on the platform in front of the whole church and my body language expressed the bitterness of my heart. I sat there as they honored my parents and I stared at the ground. I did not applaud and I did not honor my parents as I should have. My actions were shameful and I regret the dishonor I brought on my mom and dad from the congregation who loved them so.
Bitterness can ruin your life and the lives of others if you do not deal with it appropriately. Do you hold a grudge against someone? Do you despise someone to the point where it turns your stomach when someone mentions their name or when you see them? Are you failing to use the grace of God – His power – to forgive? Does your body language reflect a bitter heart? Is bitterness poisoning you? Are you dealing with the root of bitterness or are you trying to hide it? May we be quick to forgive as we have been forgiven, and may we not carry any bitterness in our heart. We become ineffective Christians when we are bitter, but love will cover a multitude of sins. Bitter or better, you decide!