Hebrews 12:15(NLT) tells us, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” During the time in which God inspired the Apostle Paul to write this epistle to the Hebrews, Christians were being horribly treated, and many were executed for the sake of the gospel. It was a very tense time and as one might imagine, people were stressed. We’re living in stressful times today, but I don’t think it compares to what those before us endured. Still, the pressure of dealing with various challenges can cause a person to behave differently than they might otherwise. This was true thousands of years ago, and it’s true today. Pressure can cause us to harbor the wrong emotions. So, God’s warning in Hebrews 12:15 is a very important one, because it informs us that what grows in our hearts can take root in our lives.
Our emotions and feelings can get out of hand when we’re under duress. This can cause bitterness to fester within, and we’re not always aware it’s happening. God’s desire is that we look after one another and be concerned about our brothers’ and sisters’ welfare. This is one of our Christian duties. It’s a way that God can work through us to comfort one another, especially during hard times. But when bitterness is operating within, we can’t always pickup love’s call. It gets blocked. Therefore, we must do all that we can to get bitterness out of our hearts.
Years ago, I was betrayed by someone that I loved very much, and it hurt me terribly. I agonized over the loss for many weeks. Unwilling to confront the situation with maturity and grace, or to accept any responsibility for how things turned sour, I became very angry. At the same time, I was dealing with an issue at work, and felt I was being treated unfairly by my boss. Both things did a whammy on my head and heart. It was as if I was looking at someone else live my life. I was unhappy, and snappy all the time. I treated people I cared about poorly, and I don’t think I had ever raised my voice in anger the way I did back then. It was an ugly time. I internalized the anger and disappointment I felt, and blamed others for it. I had become very bitter.
God tells us in Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT), “31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” God would not tell us to do something that we’re incapable of getting done. He’s not giving us a suggestion here, but a directive to put away the bitterness, along with all its compadres. He’s made us totally responsible and accountable for the evil behavior that comes with bitterness, and He’s also made it very clear that it’s a choice to do so.
Hurt, heartache, and disappointment are heavies. They weigh us down, but they are also part of the human condition. Not only do they cause us to experience an avalanche of other emotions, but they can make us feel as though things are not going to get better. The special person that’s chosen to move on, the friend that betrays us, the family member who abandons or that isn’t there when we need them most; these circumstances are painful, but they are burdens we don’t have to carry alone. God tells us in 2Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” He will carry the load of our hurt and devastation. He will pick up the pieces and make our lives all we dreamed they would be.
We can miss the grace of God if we continue to allow bitterness to take root in our hearts. A negative outlook spoils the growth of newness, and allows corrupt attitudes to poison our hopes. Through Jesus Christ, we can be so much better than this, but we have to want to be. God has warned us severely about letting bitterness take root because it is a contagion that is pervasive if allowed to go unchecked. It spills over into every aspect of our existence, and many of us have grown incredibly comfortable with it in our hearts. I know folks that have lived with bitterness so long that they won’t allow God’s love to go near it, not even to give it a rub.
The greatest thing that we can do for ourselves is to surrender our pain, anger, and disappointment to Heavenly Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. When we allow His love to takeover, bitterness is rubbed out, and our faith in Him is polished in the process! We need to ask Him to do a work in our hearts—to perform surgery on us through His love and give us a new heart. This should be our prayer—our open invitation to Him. He’ll do this for us, because He loves us, and He wants the joy of His glory to light up our hearts.■
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
“When Bitterness Gets A Rub” written for Overcomingdomesticviolenceorg.wordpress.com. Copyright ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!