Summary: This message continues exploration of the second deadly virus in the church family -- bitterness.

“Uprooting Bitter Roots 2”


Two weeks ago we began exploring a subject that affects every person in the world. Either you or someone you know has been paralyzed by this insidious infection at one time or another in your life or perhaps even now. It is so devastating that is one of the three community killers that God warns us as a Christina community to persistently be on guard against. The first was to guard against falling short of God’s enabling grace freely and abundantly supplies to those who humbly ask for it. The second is to passionately and persistently guard against bitter roots in ourselves and in our community that breaking the surface entangle the individual and disrupt the community.

1. Guard against falling short of God’s enabling grace

2. Guard against bitter roots

Seeing to it…that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

I. The character of bitterness

A. Definition

Bitterness describes the presence of negative thoughts and emotions in the soul toward someone I hold responsible for an actual or perceived offense intentionally or unintentionally inflicted upon me or someone I care about.

The core of bitterness is negative thoughts and emotions toward some else, myself or God.

These thoughts and emotions simmer in the soul; our inner life. Bitterness is an internal soul disease that eventually infects every other area of our life. It is an internal condition within my soul that begins with an unhealthy response to an actual or perceived offense.

Perceived danger and actual danger produce the same mental and emotional trauma.

I believe there is a burglar in the house.

Perceived offence and actual offence generate the same negative mental and emotional reaction

I overhear someone talking about me behind my back.

I thought I overheard someone talking about me behind my back.

The offense may have to do with some offensive action toward me.

The offense may have to do with some action or inaction I perceive to be offensive.

You demonstrated mercy – I demanded justice.

You are wrong. I am right.

The offense may have to do with a failure to fulfill some communicated or un-communicated expectation.

Someone failed to meet me at the agreed upon time and place. (4 hours late).

I expect my wife to greet me every night with a warm hug and hot meal.

Bitter thoughts and emotions are those emotions that bite, cut, sting, burn, rage, churn, simmer, accompanied by thoughts of rejection and retaliation. They revolve around me and my state of being. They have to do with my hurt and grievance not someone else’s health and growth.


Anger is a natural response to evil; to offense. Anger can exist with or without bitterness.

Anger without bitterness focuses on responding to evil by correction, restoration and overcoming evil with good. Godly anger focuses on how God feels about it. Godly anger motivates us to deal with the evil and restore right relationships and behavior. Anger infected with bitterness focuses on revenge, retaliation, punishment and payback. Bitter anger focuses on how I feel. Bitter anger drives me to focus on my pain and sever relationships.

So many families are torn apart by bitterness that rages for years.

B. Description of Bitterness

Wounds and bitterness are two different things. Offenses do not cause bitterness. Offenses cause wounds. Failure to properly treat wounds generates bitter infections.

Bitterness results from failure to properly respond to offenses. Everyone gets offended. Not everyone becomes bitter. Offenses do not cause bitterness. We intentionally choose to cultivate bitterness by our refusal to Biblically response to offenses.

I can't control what happens to me but I can control what happens in me.

I consciously choose to sow and cultivate negative thoughts and emotions. I intentionally choose to allow bitter thoughts and emotions to take root in my soul in the response to life's disappointing events and offenses. Bitterness is an attempt to either demand repayment or exact punish on the perceived offender so I can feel better.


Bitterness demands payment and imparts pain to the perceived offender.

I want the offender to repay me and to hurt like I hurt.


Love dismisses debt and imparts favor to the perceived offender.

I want to release the offender and to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

C. Characteristics of bitterness drawn from Hebrews 12:15

1. Bitterness is a community issue

2. Bitterness is distasteful and poisonous

3. Bitterness begins underground

4. Bitterness eventually surfaces

5. Bitterness entangles us

6. Bitterness defiles others

II. The cause of bitterness

A. The cause of bitterness pinpointed

How is it that two people suffering the same offense respond so differently? One becomes bitter. The other grows from it and becomes better. It paralyzes one but empowers the other.

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