Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.
Cutting out the root of bitterness:
There is no doubt that the root of bitterness is motivated and sustained by the enemy. It’s one of the most powerful methods of the enemy to isolate and destroy us. This doesn’t take away our responsibility to live a bitter free life. The old excuse of ‘the devil made me do it’ doesn’t work. The truth is that we allowed it to take root, and it’s up to us to face it and address it. It’s not something to sugarcoat and allow. It has to be dealt with completely and without delay.
The first step is confession and repentance.
We will never be free of the root of bitterness if we don’t come honestly to God and acknowledge our sin. As it works so closely with unforgiveness, we often need to address that as well. Then, the root must be completely cut off. It must be totally uprooted, so that no small part remains. To do this requires humility and willingness allowing God to work in this area in your life. We must choose the life of Christ with complete surrender. We must willingly choose to obey the commands of God and turn away from the bitterness that has taken root.
Grace is the answer to the root of bitterness.
The verse above centers around grace, because grace is the only way to free ourselves fully from the root of bitterness. It is God’s grace that gives us the spiritual wisdom to recognize the root of our bitterness. It also strengthens and enables us to confess and repent. Then, grace works in us to receive forgiveness and to be re-rooted in Christ. As we reconnect with Jesus, His life begins to flow through us and His grace will begin to wash away the poison we have lived with for so long.
Grace is a free gift which let’s us to do things that we cannot do in our own strength and ability. The reality of a root of bitterness is that, even though we may have dealt with the unforgiveness that first caused it to grow, it may remain stronger than ever. If we do as our verse today tells us to do, then we are intentionally choosing God. Our choice is empowered by grace because we are rooted in the eternal vine who is Christ. As we turn our eyes to God, we turn them away from bitterness and He is able to cleanse us.
How to avoid a root of bitterness:
The only way to avoid a root of bitterness is to be intimately connected to the living vine, which is Jesus Christ. Intimate meaning “so close, so connected” that the life of Christ flows without hindrance. This might sound “superspiritual”, but it’s actually very simple and practical.
A root of bitterness grows when things happen that are not surrendered to Jesus. If we continually build a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him, He will be first in our everything. Grace provides everything for every situation wisdom, discernment, strength, humility. The list is endless, but if we remain in the vine, when things happen that could cause a root of bitterness, grace will enable us to respond in Christ rather than in our flesh.
Jesus, help us to remain rooted in You. Grant us the grace to recognize our weakness and the discernment to identify a root of bitterness before it grows and takes hold. Strengthen us and fill us with Your life, so that we can look to You in all things and allow Your grace to work Your will in us.