Oh dear friends…
Satan is at work in our world every minute, every hour of each day. He will use every tool in his bag of tricks to create division in the house of God. Lately, I have been involved in discussions that have led to bitterness as the root of a problem. The more I have thought about the discussions, it has led me to think about how actual bitterness begins.
Seeds of bitterness take root gradually. The roots grow into the ground like a weed. How many of you have tried to pull a stubborn weed out of your yard? Sometimes, they just do NOT come up by the root and you end up giving up, grabbing the clippers and snapping that baby off! But does cutting the weed solve the problem of the root? Absolutely not!
Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Wow. So the root of the weed spreads and causes trouble. BAM! Trouble! I thought I got that weed. I know I forgave that person. It’s been months, maybe even years ago. How did I know that the weed could go domant and show up when it wants to destroy relationships?
I was presented with a situation with bitterness spewing and my heart hurt. I know there is nothing I can do but pray for the situation to resolve itself in time, pray for those involved, and pray that bitterness is revealed. How can there be fruit from a vine intertwined with weeds of bitterness? It is impossible.
Weeds choke a vine.
John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
“…apart from Me you can do nothing.” That includes forgiving. I ran across the book When You’ve Been Wronged by Erwin W. Lutzer (good name) and he suggested the five following ways to respond to bitterness and being wronged.
- Choose to live in the present and not in the past.
- Choose to free those who have injured you. Forgive without even discussing the past.
- Remember that in the injustice, God is present. When God permits evil, He will use it for some higher end. We can move beyond our past when we can embrace it as part of His good plan.
- Choose to bless those who have wronged you. Blessing those who have wronged you has the power to set you free.
- Choose not to retaliate! Vengeance is God’s business, not ours.
Lastly, in Matthew, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matt. 6:14
I cannot believe school starts next week and my Collin will be a sophomore. My prayer for Collin is that he will live each day learning how to forgive. I pray for the people he comes in contact with that they will be loving and kind, not bitter and angry. I pray for my wonderful, paramedic, firefighter husband as he deals with people on the street that his heart will continue to remain soft and kind to those in need. I pray for myself that as I walk into my workplace each day, I shine the light of Jesus and not a bitterness of anger and grief. That is hard a lot of days. But I have to remember what scripture says, “…apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Be the hands and feet of Jesus today.