The words ‘get rid of all bitterness’ paint a picture of a surgeon cutting out a malignant growth in order to save the patient’s life. A similar verse, ‘Looking carefully… lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble’ (Hebrews 12:15 NKJV), commands us to be vigilant lest a tiny seed of bitterness becomes a root that springs up and causes problems.
Bitterness has many sources: an absentee or abusive parent we can’t forgive; a nasty divorce we keep reliving; the careless words of a friend who’s not even aware of their effect; a boss who passed us up for a promotion. What’s the answer? Forgive, before the problem becomes embedded in your emotions and starts feeding off your memories. Paul writes: ‘Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind… forgiving one another.’ (Ephesians 4:31–32 TLB) And the sooner you do it, the better!
The heaviest thing you’ll ever carry is a grudge. It will make you a misery to be around because your driving desire will be to see the guilty party punished, especially when you or someone you love is the perceived victim. What happens is this: Satan enters the picture and convinces you it’s ok to harbour resentment. After all, you’re just protecting yourself from getting hurt again, right? When that happens, you dig in, justify your position, and get comfortable living with resentment. That is, until it destroys you. But that doesn’t have to happen to you, because there’s no emotion so deeply rooted that God’s grace can’t reach down and remove it. So the word for today is—‘Get rid of all bitterness.’