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. Hebrews 12:15
Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up in you. I actually know a lot about bitterness. I grew up in a house full of it. It’s a root that grows deep in my family tree. I’ve seen the scars left behind by bitterness and the hate too. It’s not pretty, and it’s not easy to leave behind. But we do have a choice, and I choose to leave it at the Cross. It is a battle I still struggle with and will always struggle with because it is my heritage.
I decided to look up the word bitterness in Strong’s Concordance, and it means poison. And that is exactly what it is. It is poison to the one who is bitter, and it poisons any relationship they try to establish. The only antidote for poison/bitterness is forgiveness…
Forgiveness frees. Forgiveness heals. Holding unforgiveness in one’s heart holds her captive to the people who offended. Chuck Swindoll calls them “the torturers.” I like that description. Because that’s what they do; they torture our minds, our souls, and our spirits. We become helpless in their brutal and relentless assault and captive to their torture. And most often, they don’t even know they are doing it. Can you tell I’ve been there?
But, forgiveness can release us from the torturers’ chains. Forgiveness can heal the gaping wounds left by loved ones who you would not think could hurt you like that. It’s almost always loved ones. It’s always the people you would never expect to hurt or “torture” you. It’s always people you love and trust, always. And that makes it harder to forgive them.
But remember, God’s grace is sufficient; it’s enough. He gives us that grace, enough grace, to forgive them. Only He can understand that. Only He can give us the ability to forgive. He becomes the antidote to the poison. He is our only hope when it comes to forgiveness; it cannot be done on our own. I know I have tried and failed many times. It’s not until I finally give that person over to the Lord completely - mentally, physically, and spiritually - can I be free from the bitterness. All of it! Sometimes it is a continual battle, as you well know. That is how the enemy works. He is always throwing it up in our minds, torturing us the same way they do, reminding, reliving, and relentless.
First Peter 5:7 comes to mind, “Cast all your cares/anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Verse 6 goes on to say, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” And he does it very well. Be ready, stand guard, watch out for him.
Just so you know, I am speaking to myself as I write this. Sometimes I feel as though the enemy pursues me mentally and spiritually trying to keep that root well-watered and fed. Forgiving those who wrong me, or even worse, wrong my loved ones can be a daily struggle, if I allow it. But as I told my husband on the day I married him, I choose from this day forward to be different. I will not bring my heritage with me into our marriage. And I can honestly say I have done that. Now, has it been easy? Has the enemy tricked me into thinking others don’t offend me and “hurt my feelings,” even my loved ones? Yes, but after time spent with my Father, He is the one who heals and comforts me. Remember, He is the only one who truly understands forgiveness. He is the one I turn to, first asking Him to forgive me, then seeking the forgiveness of others.