Cut the Bitter Root

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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.  Hebrews 12:14-15

It is impossible to live very long before hurtful things happen. Some we just stumble into and others seem to be well-conceived plots. Even good people end up hurting other good people. Apologies are welcomed, but they do not take away the harm that often has been done. Some hurts are subtle and others are obvious and often irreparable. Christians are not immune to wounds from others. We hurt and require healing. But to be a whole and balanced believer, we must seek healing which also includes forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean that we minimize the damage and pretend that hurtful behavior is not hurtful. It means we will not be poisoned by life’s circumstances and we will not make our relationship with others sick. We may feel a right to hold on to angry or bitter feelings but with that right comes the fruit it produces.
Bitterness often grows in the fertile soil of anger and feelings of injustice. The healthy initial reaction may be anger or deep sadness, but when it consumes us, we will produce its bitter and poisonous fruit.

Bitter Fruit

* Consumed by past hurt
* Avoidance/isolation
* Depression
* Anger
* Spiritual doubt
* Outburst or overreaction
* Regret
* Overly sensitive – suspicious
* Resentment
* Conflict

Healthy Fruit

* Lower blood pressure
* Lower heart rate
* Eating – balanced not over or under eating
* Personal relationships
* Better decisions
* Work relationships
* Spiritual growth
* Stress reduction
* Help with compulsive disorders
* Help with many depression symptoms

Putting the benefits ahead of vengeance is what we are called to do.  The results are life giving: physically, relationally and spiritually. It may take some pruning of the damage, seeking those with skills to help with the healing and maybe some new fresh soil – positive nutrients from supportive healthy Christian friends.

It is not just a good idea – it can be life and death.

Dr. Bill Heston

bheston@fpchouston.org

Dr Bill Heston is Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Houston and is Licensed in Marriage and Family Therapy.