The Defilement of Bitterness

Have you ever tripped over a root? Perhaps it was hidden under the leaves or concealed by darkness. Maybe it was in plain sight all the time but your attention was elsewhere. Regardless of why didn’t see it, the result is almost always the same, you are going down.

In Hebrews 12:15, we are cautioned to be, Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.

Notice that this bitterness is a result of our failure to appropriate the grace of God in our life. This root may come from painful experience. It may come from a grudge that we carry in our heart. It may even come from unconfessed sin that we try to pretend isn’t there. The bottom line is that it is there because we did not rely on God’s grace to remove it.

Here are some thoughts on roots.

Roots Spread
While we may think we can keep bitterness or sin confined to one area of our life, roots of bitterness know no boundaries. They keep spreading and infiltrating other parts of our worship, relationships and thoughts. They reach out and become intertwined with other roots, creating a labyrinth of corruption and defilement in our hearts.

Roots Drive Deep
The longer the root is allowed to remain, the deeper it will grow making it increasingly more difficult to remove. These roots, if left alone will become a part of who we are until we will become convinced that we are stronger for having them. How tragic it is when we think that we can draw more strength from bitterness than we can from the grace of God. So many people cling to their bitterness as if it is their most treasured possession.

Roots Bring Fruit
Whatever we sow, we will reap. That is both biblical and natural law. Dear friend, be assurred that root of bitterness will at some point bring forth fruit that is characteristic of its source. The bitterness will grow in your heart like a cancer and then suddenly one day it will come pouring out like evil bile revealing the secrets of your innermost thoughts.

The problem with this, is often many are defiled by our bitterness. How many children are deprived of the stability of a normal home because of bitterness in the hearts of their parents?How many of our friends are robbed of the blessing of full fellowship with us because of walls of unforgiveness or lack of trust that we build? How many families miss the joy of worshipping together in church because someone in the family has bitterness toward God or His people?

God promises that His grace is sufficient to remove any roots of bitterness. Don’t fail to use it. Lay the axe of grace to those roots and enjoy the fragrant glory of the blossoms of God’s grace in your life.


15 responses to “The Defilement of Bitterness

  1. Great post here Gordon,

    and it hits me right in the face,

    be cause I have been fighting the
    bitterness root, and I was letting take root in my heart, and it was eating me up! I hadn’t relyed on God’s grace to remove it!

    Gods grace is sufficient!

  2. That’s funny..well not funny ha ha, but funny odd.

    We were just discussing this at church, frankly I can’t tell you wha they came up with, because they are still in discussion!

  3. This analogy is so perfect. Bitterness is one of the fastest growing weeds in the garden of our heart. Another great post preacher.

  4. Gordon,
    Bitterness is something that can greatly hinder a Christian. You wrote a great article, to remind us all of how bitterness is a root of evil that spreads and produces evil fruit.
    God bless you Brother.

  5. that is a great post. Thanks.

  6. Excellent post. A subject near to all of our hearts, I’m sure. I’ve wrestled with this one for sure, but the Lord’s grace WILL lay the ax to the root of it all–as you said. Thanks for keeping the truth before us.


  7. I can attest to this one. I have seen the bitterness that comes as a result of not being open about my life. I struggled for years while I tried to maintain a spiritual outside and a worldly inside. After several years of that, believe me; bitterness became part of my character. It came out as anger, sleepyness, impatience…etc. But mostly anger.

    I have seen what happens when the wordliness stays in, unconfessed, not just in me, but I have seen brothers who were very close to me suffer through divorces because they kept sin in so long that their lives were consumed with bitterness. Usually, it comes out as anger (at least with many men, it does). Their wives could no longer live with the fear that their husbands might hurt her, or worse, one of the kids, out of a fit of rage.

    Satan does his job well in fooling us into thinking that we don’t need confession. Despite the Bible’s many admonitions, warnings, and flat out commands, we still end up believing that lie.

    i hate satan…

  8. I’m glad to find out that I’m not the only one who has to deal with this issue. So often we see someone behave in a certain way and wonder why they do what they do. I think that many times it is a root of bitterness that is spreading in their life.

  9. Great post. I’m going to reference it on my blog.

  10. Excellent! Something we all could stand too hear several times over!

  11. Good post, brother! I’ve always thought that each of us have our own chain…THE ONE BIG thing that holds us in bondage. For me it was bitteness…Praise God, He not only broke the chains…He pulled bitterness up by the roots and I can truly say it is no more! Now I am reminded regularly to let things go into His grace so that bitterness can nver gain a grip on me again.
    Welcomve back to blogging and glad you and your wife had a nice getaway in St Aug. It is a beautiful place.

  12. Great post Gordon. I referenced it in a follow-up post.

  13. I’m glad this post is being used to help. Thanks to those who have linked to it.

  14. I feel apt to ask a follow-up question, however, childish it might be. How does one uproot the root of bitterness? I know it’s an analogy, but you can pick a weed, and think it is gone, only to find it spring back up again. Our flesh wars against our spirit.


  15. That’s a good question, Ryan. I have learned that dealing with bitterness is often a process rather than an event.

    Our text warns us about not “failing of the grace of God”. I believe this refers to a failure to apply the grace of God. As those weeds of bitterness spring up, rather than dwelling on them and letting the bitterness grow, we can call upon the grace of God and find the means to uproot them.

    God bless.

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