I finished reading a book this morning that included a woman scorned. She was bitter because a man chose her sister–her sweet, kind sister–over her. She made life nearly unbearable for those around her. Her actions resulted from the bitterness she’d allowed to take root in her heart and mind.
The Bible speaks much about roots.
Hebrews 12:15 directly speaks about the root of bitterness. 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; (ESV)
It springs up and causes trouble.
On the other hand, Paul in Colossians 2 admonishes us to be rooted in Jesus. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (vs 6, 7; NLT)
The results of being rooted in Jesus are strong faith and overflowing thankfulness.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in preferring the strong faith and thankfulness rather than the trouble bitterness causes.
I expect that you, like me, have personally known bitter people. In my experience, the bitter person has had something withheld from them that they wanted and/or needed. Maybe it was done out of love or care, but the person denied the thing isn’t able to see the truth of the situation. Of course, in many cases, the withholder may do it as a means of control or revenge or whatever.
In either case, bitterness does not harm the offender.
A popular quote (attributed to many people as I found out) says, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” I think bitterness stems from resentment and grows into something uglier. But whether it does or doesn’t, it harms us more than the other person.
Where do our roots grow?
Are they tapped into living water?
Or are they resting along side poison? Not just the poison of bitterness and resentment, but of unforgiveness, anger, or whatever that keeps you from the love Jesus offers.
The bitter person I knew expected the world to make amends for the perceived wrongs done to her. But it wasn’t the world’s fault. Nor was it God’s. Free will means we will be hurt. And we will hurt others.
The real question is: What is your reaction to the pain, the slight, the withholding of something? Will you accept that the time was not right or it wasn’t God’s best for you, or will you hold on to your resentment and discontent and allow it to take root?
I pray you choose the former and dig deep, allowing your roots to grow down into Jesus.