Summary: Hebrews tells us that bitterness defiles. But what does that mean and why should I avoid this emotion?

Our Sermon Series this month is entitled: "Insomniacs: Things That Keep Us Up At Night."

I read that some of the Polynesian natives spend a great deal of time fighting. When people offend them, they steal something that belonged to offender and hang it from the ceiling of their hut. Then they lie awake at night, look at the items hanging from the ceiling and remember that person had done… and try to decide how to get even.

You know they’re not all that different from a lot of other people in this world. There are many people who spend their nights thinking about those who’ve hurt them, wronged them, and mistreated them.

ILLUS: Researchers interviewed over 1,400 American adults asking them to rate how likely they were to forgive others for hurting them. The participants also answered questions about how well they’d slept in the past 30 days, how they would rated their health, and how satisfied they were with their life. The results suggested - those who forgave others slept better than those who didn’t. ( Sophie McMullen | October 14, 2019)

You see, bitterness can rob you of sleep (keep you up at night). But our text today says it can do more than that rob us of the grace of God. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” Hebrews 12:15

Now, everybody gets mad once in a while. But when we tame down, everything’s ok. But people who are bitter aren’t like that. Bitter people don’t tame down. Bitter people hold grudges like their life depended on it. Because somebody has slighted them. Somebody has rejected them. Somebody has hurt them. Somebody has deprived them of something precious or valuable.

ILLUS: I once read about a woman who had a dog she loved deeply, but one day the dog bit the newpaper boy, the boy called the authorities and the impounded the dog for a week before returning it its owner. The greatly angered the woman, and she began calling the boy and harrassing him. She did this sometimes 2 or 3 times a day... every day of the week... 52 weeks a year... for 43 years!!! The calls only stopped when SHE DIED!

Most people aren't that flagrant in their desire for revenge... but lots of bitter people would do stuff like that if they thought they could get away with it. Every time they think of that “someone” who’s hurt them, their blood boils and they try to think of ways that they could put that person down, or hurt them somehow. They hold on to their wounds and seem unable or unwilling to forget.

A Biblical example of this mindset would be Cain. God accepted his brother Abel’s sacrifice… but had rejected Cain’s. And (as far as Cain was concerned) that wasn’t right. Cain became so bitter at his brother you could see it in his face. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?” Genesis 4:6

Just thinking about how Abel deprived him of God’s blessing made Cain’s face cloud over. You could literally see the resentment and hatred in his eyes. And Cain’s bitterness so dominated him that he ultimately struck his brother down… killed him. Cain’s bitterness defiled him!

Now, what does the word “DEFILE” mean? The word used here in Hebrews means – “to pollute”, “to contaminate,” “to stain.”

ILLUS: Think of it this way: Let’s say you’ve bought a loaf of bread. You put it on the counter… and you forgot about it for a month or so. Then you find it again… and you can tell the bread has changed color. The loaf has turned green. So, do you open the bag and eat the bread? Of course not. It’s contaminated now… it’s polluted with mold. It makes you uncomfortable to even have it around.

Ephesians 4:30 says “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all BITTERNESS and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

Get rid of your bitterness, wrath, anger, slander, malice… WHY? Because if you don’t you’ll grieve the Holy Spirit of God. You’ll be contaminated to the point where your soul will be moldy and useless to Him. God won’t want to touch you any more than you wanted to touch that moldy loaf of bread. Bitterness pollutes our hearts and robs us of God’s grace. So, get rid of all bitterness.

Jesus, when He taught His followers to pray said this: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, AS we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others when they sin against you, neither will your Father forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:9-15

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