The Root of Bitterness CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In this sermon on Heb 12:15, we get right down to the root of bitterness.
Bitterness has many sources – “any” – see how bitterness affected the following:
- 1 Sam 1:10 – Hannah – the bitterness of barrenness
- 1 Sam 15:32 – Samuel and the Lord – the bitterness of death [avenging an enemy’s slaughter] – see also 2 Sam 2:26
- Job 7:11 – Job – the bitterness of lost wealth, health and family
- Job 9:18 – Job – the bitterness of anger toward God
- Prov 17:25 – a Mother – the bitterness of rearing a foolish son
- Is 38:15-17 – Hezekiah – the bitterness of a life cut short
- Ezek 3:14 – Ezekiel – the bitterness of his country’s apostasy
- Acts 8:23 – Simon the sorcerer – the bitterness of lost power
As you can see there are many sources of bitterness. We understand what made them bitter. But the question is, “What has made you bitter?” Was it something in your childhood, adolescence, adult years long ago, or your adult years recently?
Bitterness is often denied – “root” – because it is a root it is hard to see. Of course, the Lord sees it. And you know what it is if you are willing to admit it. Prov 14:10 says, “the heart KNOWETH his own bitterness.” The problem is that the heart is deceitful. In truth, you don’t want to let go of your bitterness. Two monks carried an elderly woman across a river and five miles down the road one monk was still complaining about it. The other monk said that the reason he wasn’t complaining is that he put the woman down five miles back while the other monk was still carrying her. Let go!!
Yet Bitterness springs up – “springing up” – in other words, because it is a root, it is going to bear fruit. At first you probably won’t see the connection between the root of bitterness and the fruit that springs up. In Job 10:1 complaining was the fruit, bitterness was the root; in Rom 3:14 cursing is the fruit, bitterness is the root, in Ezek 27:31 crying and weeping are the fruit, bitterness is the root. Many people who are sick, angry, lying, foul mouthed, and fighting are just bitter.
Your bitterness troubles YOU – “trouble you” – you hold on to the bitterness because you are mad at someone or something and you want them to “pay.” The trouble is that your bitterness is taking a toll on you. You are the one paying the price. Bitterness has been described this way, “You drink the poison and hope the other person dies.” Bruce Goodrich’s parents weren’t bitter that he died during a University “Hell week.” What has your bitterness accomplished? Nothing, it never does.
And your trouble defiles many – “many be defiled” – because you are bitter, other people are affected by your bitterness. They get defiled by your lies, anger, and cursing and by the work of the devil in your life. Your bitterness is directed at someone else, so you turn it on others. There is a secret comfort in your life by seeing others hurt; their hurt in some way validates your bitterness.
Therefore, bitterness must be put away from you – Eph 4:31-32 – and when you put it away, you must also put away the things that are connected with it, “wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking… with all malice.” When you have problems with these things listed in Eph 4:31 they are a good indication that you are bitter. As you get rid of these things replace them with Eph 4:31. One of the best ways to get rid of bitterness is to forgive the person with whom you are bitter.