Driving to work the other day I was thinking about some things that happened during the week, and I was thinking about how disturbing it is to me when Christians display bitterness. To me it just totally ruins a person’s testimony and simply makes Christians look like hypocrites. Then I was thinking about a different situation that has caused me to be bitter over the last few years and, even though I feel totally justified, I realize that I need an adjustment as well. Then I was remembering that I was posting soon, and I was wondering if our reading was going to address bitterness at all. Lo and behold, I come across this in Hebrews 12, verses 14 and 15:
14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
I know it is dangerous to read God’s word with an agenda but it just blew me away that the reading very clearly addressed just the question I was asking! Bitterness grows from a root. I see the root beneath the surface. That’s where it starts. So I need to get to the root and cut it off there. If I don’t it will grow up to “cause trouble and defile many”, where I am the first of the many…
I was so glad that this was in Hebrews 12 as this is one of my favorite chapters. I love the familiar words that introduce it:
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Then it continues to explain how we should see hardship as God’s discipline to us, loving discipline that is for our good, not harm.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Discipline. Training. Perseverance. Recognize that root of bitterness. Cut it off at the root. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone. Everyone. Not just the folks I enjoy being with. Not just the folks that share my point of view, but everyone. God promises a “harvest of peace” in the place of that awful bitterness.
Lord, help me throw off what’s tripping me up and run the race marked out for me. Set my eyes on Jesus. Help me squash any bitterness in me. Help other Christians in this area as well so that we can be salt and light in this world. Salt is, well, salty, not bitter!