A mimosa tree sprang up in my flower garden. By fall it was about three feet tall. That certainly doesn't belong in the flower garden, I thought. I think I'll transplant it to the front lawn.
So I dug up the mimosa, but couldn't get all of its deep taproot. That taproot sent up new trees during the next several years. My, it was hard to get rid of!
ROOTS OF BITTERNESS
So are the roots of bitterness. When someone treats us unkindly or unfairly, it's hard to forgive it. We may realize we shouldn't dwell on such things, that we should forgive and forget, that bitterness doesn't belong in the garden of our hearts. But it keeps popping up, doesn't it?
Our Lord knew we'd have this problem. Hebrews 12:14-15 says, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
Some years ago the board chairman at a church I attended hurt my feelings by the way he publicly presented me with a Christmas gift for my service as assistant pianist and organist. He spoke as if I hadnt done anything to deserve it! I was so embarrassed! But I realized that as a Christian I should forgive, forget, and overlook, so I tried to do just that.
Sometime later, when the man's wife was quite ill, I sent her a get-well card with a Scripture booklet, assuring her of my prayers.
There, I thought, I have returned good for evil! But I still remembered that slight, didn't I?
As another Christmas approached, however, I started thinking about what that man had said, and it made me angry all over again. All kind of thoughts popped into my mind, making me still angrier.
Suddenly I caught myself. Hey, I thought, I guess old Satan is after me! After serving in various churches for many years, I had seen the havoc that can be caused, the church splits and ill feelings that can come when Christians harbor bitterness toward one another.
DEALING WITH THE ROOT
I realized that I hadn't succeeded in ridding myself of that root of bitterness, and Satan was using it to defile me. Convicted, I humbly said to the Lord, "You know, Lord, in myself I don't seem capable of completely expelling that memory, so I turn it over to You. Please dig deep and banish every root of it. Help me to love that man as You love him, for he is a good man."
I have prayed this prayer about other slights and hurts, and I know from experience that our Lord does replace roots of bitterness with genuine love and compassion.
LOVE UPROOTS BITTERNESS
How can we be filled with His Spirit and show forth the fruit of love, peace, joy, patience, and humility if we have even a little bitterness or unforgiveness in our hearts? First Peter 4:8 says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." Whenever I find it hard to love certain persons because of a root of bitterness, I just ask the Lord for His kind of love. Bitter roots keep me from having God's peace and joy, so I seek to truly forgive those who hurt me and I pray for them. By doing this, I can honestly pray the Lord's prayer, which says, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Copyright Muriel Larson