6 years ago then, presidential hopeful, Barak Obama made the statement that there are no blue Americans, no red Americans, just Americans. He based his entire campaign upon the idea of unity. Over the last several years we have found more and more divisions in this country than I can remember. And now, we find right wing pundits blaming the president for further dividing this country. As I listen to the banter on TV and the radio, and read what is published in newspapers and on blogs there is one constant I see in American today. We are bitter. Some are angry that the economy has never fully recovered. Some are angry that our borders are not being secured. Some are angry that Benghazi was a disaster of epic proportions. Some are angry about how our president is handling the war in Israel. I listened to one particular person this past week as I made an out of town trip and listened to him just rip person after person on the white house staff. He reverted to name calling. He considered every word that came out of their mouths as lies. He was so upset he was yelling across the airwaves. And he is not alone. Just this past week a man tried to kill his roommate because he ate the last three cookies in the house. Every month we read of a shooting at a school, a place of employment, or some other public location. Everyone eventually learns that the person was angry at something; bullies, bosses, or perhaps just life in general. All of these issues have the same problem. The root of bitterness is running deep in the hearts of our country. Paul warned that bitterness needed to be removed from our hearts. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice (Eph. 4:31).” Look at this collection of sins. Bitterness, wrath, anger, slander, and clamor are all related. For once bitterness enters one’s heart the other sins are sure to follow. For once you are embittered towards someone or something it becomes easier to justify being angry, wrathful or just to slander such a person. Bitterness, called a root, in Heb. 12:15 is a dangerous weed in your heart. Its roots regretfully run deep. And like weeds, it is quick to spread. When I lived in SE Missouri we had a river thorn problem in our backyard. River thorn is not a plant you want growing in your yard. It is will grow quicker than any tree I have ever seen. Its thorns start of small like a rose bush, but when permitted to grow the thorns can reach 2 or 3 inches in length. To get one of those in the leg or arm while trying to mow is unpleasant to say the least. Ours grew up in the alley, behind our fence. I wasn’t really required to mow the alley, the hospital mowed it regularly. However, they didn’t take care of weeds growing up in fences. By the time I noticed they were there, my fence was coming down (They are a destructive little beast). I cut that thorn down every week, and every week it grew back. The only way to get rid of it was to remove the root. Bitterness is the same way. Most of us treat bitterness by treating the symptoms. We try to control our anger. We try to control our tongue. But eventually we slip up. Why? Because we are bitter. We are like I was trying to get rid of that river thorn. We cut it off at the surface, but never deal with why we were angry in the 1st place. Until we dig the root of bitterness out of our hearts we will always be struggling with anger, wrath, slander and clamor. So, how do you get bitterness out of your heart? Look at what Paul says in Eph. 4:32. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” You have to be proactive. It is not enough to say, ”I won’t be angry anymore.” It is not enough to say, “I will avoid being around that person or thing that agitates me so much. Paul tells us that if we want to get bitterness out or our hearts we need to first be kind one to another. Kindness is not avoidance. Kindness is actively doing good deeds to another person. Like Paul would write in Rom. 12:20, if your enemy is hungry feed him. Go out of your way to do good deeds for others. (Remember a true act of kindness is doing it without an expectation of a return.) Be tenderhearted. That is be compassionate. Try to think about how the other person feels. We often call that walking in their shoes. Forgive. That can never be stated enough. Whoever is the cause of your bitterness. Forgive that person. Did your spouse leave you. Forgive him/her. Where you abused as a child? Forgive that person. Where your parents neglectful? Forgive them? Were/are you bullied by your peers? Forgive them. Until you forgive them, bitterness will always have a home in your heart.
Grinnell church of Christ
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