Summary: This message continues our exploration of the second deadly virus Hebrews instructs the look our for in the family -- bitterness.
“Uprooting Bitter Roots 3”
Hebrews 12 identifies three deadly infections that contaminate the Christian community and disrupt the unity God instructs us to pursue, promote and protect. These three infections also prevent the pursuit of the three life pursuits.
1. Guard against anyone falling short of God’s enabling grace
2. Guard against bitter roots taking root and springing up
I. The character of bitterness
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.
C. Characteristics from Hebrews 12:15
II. The cause of bitterness
A. The cause 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. It all has to do with the condition of the soul. Bitterness thrives in the sour soil of a self-centered soul. The bitterness can only take root and survive in a self-centered soul. Bitterness thrives in acid soil of selfish ambition, jealousy and fed by pride.
Until I adequately address the issue of pride in my life, I will NEVER eradicate bitterness.
Every offense, every wound of life will become infected to the point where it not only vexes me but defiles all of those around me.
B. The cause pictured
III. The consequences of bitterness
IV. The cure of bitterness
Bitterness must have the right kind of soil in order to take root in the soul. When offenses come our way (and they most certainly will), the sweet soil of humble faith and surrender will germinate godly responses that blossom into the fruit of the Spirit or the sour soil of proud unbelief and selfishness will germinate negative thoughts and emotions that blossom into destructive, poisonous plants of the flesh. Some who suffer the same or even more devastating offense never become bitter yet others spew bitterness at the slightest offense.
How can we prevent bitter roots from taking root in our life when suffering offense by others?
The Example of Jesus
What finally solidified the core issues for me was the example of Jesus. Jesus suffered horrendous offenses; none of them deserved. How did Jesus keep from becoming bitter?
We are told to look to Jesus’ example. Peter offered instructions to slaves on how to respond to their masters.
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His (Christ’s) steps,
Did you get that? We were called to respond to mistreatment in the same way that Jesus responded. How did he respond? Peter points out what He didn’t do and what He did do.
who committed no sin,
nor was any deceit found in His mouth;
and while being reviled, He did not revile in return;
while suffering, He uttered no threats,
kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
1. Fully trust God
Jesus entrusted His life into the Father’s loving care. He trusted His plan. Rather than take life in His own hands, He entrusted Himself into His Father’s loving care. The soil of humble trust as opposed to proud unbelief or revolt enables us to positively respond to the offenses and difficult circumstances that afflict us. Since God allows such offences, there must be some eternal purpose. Jesus refused to dictate the conditions of His life but trusted God to accomplish His plan. He could ask, but ultimately it was, “Nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done.”
Here is true faith, genuine trust. Will we let God be God? Do I really believe that God knows best and loves most? If I am truly surrendered and sincerely trust His plan and His love, there is NO room for bitter negative thoughts and emotions toward God or the instrument of His work in my life. If I am truly surrendered and sincerely trust His plan and His love, there is NO room for bitter negative thoughts and emotions toward God or the instrument of His work in my life.
If your bitterness is directed toward God, we have a whole new problem. You must repent of your arrogance. You must humble yourself under the might hand of God. You must submit to God and draw near to Him. If you continue, you will become completely entangled in bitterness toward God and others.
2. Sacrificially serve people
Not only did Jesus escape bitterness and retaliation by His trust in the Father’s care, He offered His life for His Father’s use in the healing of others.
and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:18-25