"The heart knoweth his own bitterness" (Proverbs 14:10a).
"I can't believe it, Mom!" cried my son. "Look at this!" Walking to the flower bed where my son was standing, I looked down and shook my head. Sure enough, the noxious weed that we had been trying to eradicate was back in our flower bed again. Frustrated, I realized the problem was my fault. When we had first moved to our home several years before, I had thought this weed was a flower. Unfortunately, after watching the other flowers choked out by this weed's entwining, tubular roots, I knew I had made a mistake in letting it grow.
"OK, that's it!" I said exasperated. "Let's dig two feet down and turn over the soil and maybe we'll find all the roots to kill it this time." For the next two years, our flower garden project for homeschooling suffered, as my son and I attempted to prevent this weed from damaging any more of our tulips, irises, columbines, and other perennial flowers.
The Bible warns Christians of another root that can destroy in a far greater way — the root of bitterness. In Hebrews 12:15b, the writer says, "Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." As believers, we must forgive those who hurt or offend us. When we refuse to forgive, bitterness grows, intertwines itself around our Christian witness, and chokes out our joy in Christ. Our lives become sour, and we see the world through critical eyes and speak with skeptical and sarcastic remarks. Not only is the Holy Spirit grieved, but also those we touch are affected by the ugliness of bitterness.
Has bitterness taken hold in your life? Perhaps you have a family member or friend who has hurt you deeply and you've refused to forgive him. Be careful that the anger you're holding onto doesn't lead to bitterness. Why not let God uproot the pain and renew your bitter heart with a flowering heart of forgiveness and love? "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:30-32).
Lord, I know I need to deal with the hurt and anger I feel. Give me the strength and desire to forgive as You forgave me. Please, help me to lay the pain at Your feet to find Your peace and joy again. In Jesus' name, Amen.