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Summary: For most of us there are certain things in life that when we think of them they bring to us a feeling we often describe as bitterness. This could be an event that took place years and years ago; something someone said and even though that individual ha

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“Getting to the Root of the Problem”

Ephesians 4:28-32

For most of us there are certain things in life that when we think of them they bring to us a feeling we often describe as bitterness. This could be an event that took place years and years ago; something someone said and even though that individual has long forgotten about what they did, you haven’t and as a result you now have bitterness. Bitterness comes in different forms and causes a variety of different things to happen. Certain foods have a bitter taste. This lemon is one of them. Let me ask you does the mere mention of lemon juice just do something to your mouth? It brings a kind of bitterness to us. OR

Perhaps you are involved in a conversation with someone and they bring something up-an event or a person-again it could be from years and years ago but the feeling we have; perhaps even the bad taste we get in our mouths for that person comes back to us immediately. Have you experienced that before? I have. I believe we all have. And we may even stop and think I haven’t thought about that for a long time or maybe you are one who might say actually I think about it all the time.

The writer of Hebrews understood this emotion and wrote these words to us… 14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”

Now when it comes to this thing called bitterness I think there are several points we could agree on today..

(1) At one time or another every one of us have had or have now feelings of bitterness toward another person.

(2) Many times we know the source of our bitterness, but not always.

(3) Most of the time we do not know what to do with this emotion.

Fortunately for us the apostle Paul did know what to do with them. Paul has plenty of reasons to hold bitterness in his heart. To name a few….

3 times they beat him with rods for sharing his faith.

Once they stoned him…somehow he survived

5 times the Jews gave him 39 lashes with a whip. It was thought that if an individual received 40 lashes it would kill them. Basically he was beaten within an inch of his life 5 times.

Paul said that every day he felt pressured-why? Because he was serving the Lord. Ever tried to do a good thing and yet you are criticized for it?! It happens and it can bring a great deal of bitterness into your life.

Bitterness-the way I would define it is like this…. Bitterness is an intense feeling caused by some event where we have been wronged/mistreated. It happened to most of the disciples, it happened to the OT prophets, to Paul, Stephen and of course to Jesus. They stoned Stephen because of his faith. He performed miracles. He helped a lot of people. So they lied about him, produced false witnesses to testify against him and then they stoned him. The Bible says this… “while they were stoning him, Stephen prayed Lord Jesus receive my Spirit. Then he fell on his knees and cried out Lord do not hold this sin against them. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that would be my response and I’m not sure it would be yours either. For most of us this root of bitterness gets hold of us and it does exactly what the NT warns against-don’t let it becomes like a poison that springs up in you. And all of us know what poison does. It destroys life. Fortunately Paul tells us what to do to prevent being poisoned.

I am not aware of any problem Paul mentioned where he did not also offer a solution. That’s a good way for us all to live. We have too many experts who know everything that is wrong but few who can offer solutions. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is a problem but it does take one to know what to do with the problem.

Years ago a man named Nikola tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory which was having some kind of problem. Ford asked him if he could help him identify the problem with his generator. He told him that none of his own repairmen knew how to fix it. Tesla walked up to a wall and made a small X in chalk on one of the boilerplates and said your problem is right there. Ford was thrilled and told him to send him a bill. The bill arrived for $10,000. Ford asked him to break it down and he replied sure, 1 dollar for marking the wall with an X and 9,999 dollars for knowing where to put it.

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