A root of bitterness flourishes in the person that takes offense easily. For when they feel that someone has insulted them…they react not with grace but with indignity and resentment. And if allowed to grow, this root of bitterness leads to a wounded spirit that is of no use to God. And when this happens among Believers in a Church setting…this is when we see division and disunity. As Believers, we need to fight for unity within the Body…not murmur, gripe, and easily take offense.
Peter asked Jesus just how many times he had to forgive someone, and he used the Old Testament number of seven. (Genesis 4:24) But Jesus answered Peter’s question by saying, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” So it’s not really about numbers, it’s more about our response to that transgression against us. When we forgive someone, we’re letting go of resentment…we’re refusing to take offense…and we’re not allowing a root of bitterness to grow. For just as God forgives us, we must forgive others. (Matthew 6:14-15)
The area of our lives that the devil is most easily able to gain a foothold… is when we have unforgiveness in our hearts. II Corinthians 2:10-11 tells us that we need to forgive in order that Satan might not outwit us. When we harbor unforgiveness, we allow the devil to capture a place in our heart…setting up a position – a base of operations for further advancement against us. We need to remain then vigilant…forgiving and forgetting quickly, so as not to allow him the ability to take advantage over us.
Most of us would be quick to deny any root of bitterness in our lives…but let’s think about it for a moment. Do you hold a grudge against someone who in your eyes disrespected you? Or are you resentful against someone who hurt your pride and caused you pain and embarrassment? You may not be able to even remember the details of the incident…but still anger rises up every time you think of that person. A root of bitterness can take on many faces and lie deep within…so deep that we even lie to ourselves about its very existence. But know that bitterness poisons your life and hinders God’s work in and through you. The answer is forgiveness…allowing the past to be the past. For forgiveness is not meant for the perpetrator, but for yourself.
Bottom line…you can’t trust people. They’ll say one thing, but do the opposite. They’ll promise things they can never deliver on. They’ll declare their love and then turn around and break your heart. Mankind is just that…humans with lots of flaws that disappoint each other daily. And that’s difficult when we demand perfection from those who can’t achieve it….for it leads only to disillusionment. And we need to be careful that disillusionment doesn’t cause us to become cynical, critical, and bitter. Bottom line…you can’t trust people – but you can trust God. You can fully trust God with your life, your future, your everything.