Bitterness is called a root because it grows and produces all kinds of unhealthy fruit.
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, NLT)
Bitterness is the root. Its fruit can be anger, cynicism, loss of joy, frustration, and a lack of patience. Do you carry an atmosphere of tension around you? Are you defensive, irritated, and moody? Do people feel as though they have to speak and act with extreme care around you?
Sometimes, the reason people project tension, moodiness, and anger is to protect themselves from being hurt or offended again. After all, if you can keep people at a distance, they can’t hurt you. Like the body naturally recoils or maneuvers to avoid contact with an injured part, so the soul develops a method of defense.
Why We’re Bitter
Perhaps you were legitimately hurt. It may very well be that you were truly wronged. Maybe something was done to you, maybe someone spoke something to you – it can also be that someone wasn’t there for you in the way they should have been. Your pain and anger may very well be justifiable.
On the other hand, there are those who allow themselves to be offended by trivial things. I by no means am trying to belittle anyone’s pain. But you have to consider this angle too: perhaps you were just being too sensitive and emotional about something. Sometimes it’s not the experience but rather the way you perceive an experience that leads to bitterness and offense.
Only fools get angry quickly and hold a grudge. (Ecclesiastes 7:9, CEV)
So there are some who have been truly wronged, and then there are some who only perceive themselves to have been wronged. But regardless of why you carry hurt, anger, and offense, it’s so important that you realize that there is freedom available to you. The answer is simple, but it is not easy.
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. (Mark 11:25, NLT)
Forgiveness is the key to freedom. Now, again, it’s not my goal to be insensitive, but it would be terribly unloving of me to withhold the truth from you. If you want to be free, you need to forgive. There’s really no way around it. To forgive is to let go.
You may still feel the emotion of the offense. You may still feel the anger of the offense. Thankfully, forgiveness is not an emotion, it’s a decision.
Just let it go. People don’t like that phrase: “Just let it go.” That phrase seems so insensitive, so harsh, so simplistic. But that’s the key. “Just let it go” isn’t what people want to hear. I know what people want to hear. They want to hear what modern preaching tells them. Modern preaching says, “You can’t just tell people to let it go. You don’t know their story. You haven’t been in their shoes.” Now, they never really come out right and say it, but some preachers are essentially telling you that you have a right to un-forgiveness. The problem is that’s just not the truth. As people who have been crucified with Christ, we have no rights to un-forgiveness. By telling you such lies, cowardly preachers are actually contributing to your staying in bondage.
As people filled with the Holy Spirit, should we not have the grace to forgive? Should we not be the most humble, forgiving people on earth? Again, it’s simple. But it’s definitely not easy. But I’m telling you this because I want to see you go free.
No Need to Wait
You might be waiting for that perfect apology. You might be waiting for them to acknowledge their wrong, to humble themselves and present themselves broken before you. But that perfect scenario might never come. So we must be like Christ. While being crucified, before He ever received an apology, He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
We must forgive faster than they can apologize. In fact, forgiveness doesn’t begin after we’ve been hurt; forgiveness is the state of your heart before the offense ever takes place.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (Colossians 3:13, NLT)
Make allowance. Carry the grace before the offense takes place. We must live prepared to forgive. Anticipating offenses, we must be ready to let go.
Search Your Heart
So search your heart. Is there any un-forgiveness in you?
Bitterness seeks revenge.
Forgiveness seeks reconciliation.
Bitterness lives in the past.
Forgiveness frees you to dream about the future.
Bitterness says, “Because they owe me.”
Forgiveness says, Because I owe God.”
Bitterness pushes guilt.
Forgiveness lifts burdens.
Bitterness seeks to prove a point.
Forgiveness let’s it go.
Perhaps now there is a phone call you need to make – a text you need to send. Maybe there was an argument, an offense. Maybe you need to go back to that church. Be reconciled to your brothers and sisters. It’s time to let it go.
No, I don’t mean that you should allow people to repeatedly take advantage of you, but what’s done is done. It’s time to move forward into freedom.
For the sake of your spiritual well being, for the sake of your soul, for the sake of your joy and peace, it’s time to let it go. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. The Holy Spirit will help you to do it.
By David Hernandez