It's no accident that God uses the image of a weed to describe bitterness. Bitterness isn't one of those big, flashy sins that you can see growing above the surface of our hearts. It may not show off like anger or produce rotten fruit like disobedience. Bitterness is a silent sin, as it grows beneath the surface, down deep in the soil of our hearts. And because bitterness is a weedy sin that burrows in our hearts first, we can't just cut off the behaviors that bitterness causes. We need the Lord's help to yank that weed up by the root. I read in a great article about bitterness that there are four ways to spot a bitter root. Since bitterness is a silent sin, the truth isn't always obvious.
Here are 4 questions to help you spot a bitter root:
1. Am I replaying the tapes?
Do you find yourself constantly replaying the tapes of a conversation with someone? When you interact with them, do you spend days rehashing every word or body language cue? Bitterness flourishes in the soil of justification. If you fixate on your interactions with a specific individual, you're looking for justification for your anger or frustration.
2. Is my mouth out of control?
Romans 3:14 speaks about a person "whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." There is a connection between the junk that comes out of our mouths and the bitterness that takes root in our hearts. Do you find yourself losing your cool often? Are you critical, snappy, rude? Maybe the sins you are committing with your mouth are simply an extension of the bitterness you’ve allowed to grow in your heart.
3. Am I making myself sick?
Psychologist Dr. Carsten Wrosch has studied bitterness for fifteen years. He says "When harbored for a long time, bitterness may forecast patterns of biological dysregulation (a physiological impairment that can affect metabolism, immune response or organ function) and physical disease." Scientists have concluded that bitterness, if left unchecked, interferes with the body's hormonal and immune systems. Bitter people tend to have higher blood pressure and heart rate and are much more likely to die of heart disease and other illnesses. Paul didn't know that when he wrote Acts 8:23, but still he wrote "For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." It's a bile, bitter substance that can literally make us sick.
4. Am I infecting those around me?
The "bitter root" in Hebrews 12:15 is first described in Deuteronomy 29:18: "Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;" Like all weeds, bitterness has a way of spreading. So, what do we do if we find we have bitterness?
It's just another sin of our fleshly man, but it has to be dealt with.
1 John 1:5-9
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, & declare unto you, that God is light, & in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Don't be bitter with God!