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Who Lives On Bitter Root Street?

Who Lives On Bitter Root Street
If You Do, It is Time To Move

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; Hebrews 12:14-15 (NKJV)

My wife Carol and I had a friend Teresa stop by our house after a road trip to Twin Falls, Idaho. She was sharing with us about her travels and she told us how she had gone down this one section of town and noticed the name of a street titled, Bitter Root Street.  She proposed a question to me with a grin saying, don't you just wonder who lives there? She was speaking metaphorically, and referring to people who might actually have a bitter root living there.  

It got me thinking about how everyone of us could probably have lived on this street at one point in our lives.  Truth be told, if there were such a place set up for people with bitter roots within their hearts, there would be an assortment of people living there and for a different amount of time.  Some would simply come and go, stopping for only a short time.  Some would opt for an extended stay, while still others would live there for their entire lives.

When I think about a bitter root, I immediately think of someone who has been hurt in a relationship in some way or another, because this is where the root starts.  They have chosen to continue to hold another person accountable for something they experienced, and they are unwilling to let it go and forgive.  And much like a case of cancer, it eats away at their life until certain death occurs.  

We see the writer of Hebrews speaking of this as we are told to pursue peace with ALL people...looking carefully, or "diligently" as some translations state it, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled (See Heb. 12:14-15).   

This is a sharp warning for every Christian believer, telling us we need to be attentive in making sure we don't become bitter when others hurt or offend us.  We need to identify any bitterness causing us to stray in our faith, fall away from the Lord, and to ultimately disrespect what He has expressively commanded us to do.  

When this happens, we can sometimes continue to go through the motions in our Christian walk, even attending studies and church, but our heart is far from being one of worship and praise.  Instead, we can become cynical, bitter, and pessimistic, causing our fellow brothers and sisters to stumble and to lose hope in the process.

The ultimate result of a bitter root is it will defile the body of believers, as it continues to pollute one person at a time - ruining their testimony and the ministry God has allowed them to be a part of.   Some will choose to leave the church as a result of having a bitter root, while others will burrow in much like a tick, not content to simply leave, they choose to infect the whole body.

One more thing we need to know about bitter roots is they don't always pop up over one offense.  They will usually culminate over a series of events where a person feels wronged, and will eventually surface.  This is important for us to identify because we tend to bury the past hurts, or those bitter roots and simply tear the head off of what surfaces rather than deal with them properly.  

Now here me in this, I am not speaking of going down and letting a psychologist peel back your mind like the layers of an onion - to expose hurtful times or actions you feel have affected you or your life - I am talking about choosing to forgive those who have hurt you immediately and then letting the offense go.

Here is the thing, as Christians, we have God's promise to be faithful to us, even when we are faithless (See 2 Tim 2:13).  And we have the promise of Him completing what He started in us when we gave our life to Him and made Him our Lord and Savior (See Phil. 1:6).  So, if we make the decision to live on Bitter Root Street, it will be by our own choice, and we will have to work very hard to be permanent residents. This is exactly why the Apostle Paul was exhorting the believers in Rome to get rid of the bitterness.

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:31 (NKJV)

Hey Christian, I want to encourage you today to think for just a few minutes about any bitterness you may be holding onto.  Ask God to reveal any bitterness you're harboring against an old friend or coworker.  Against any employer or supervisor, or potentially even a family member.  If you are holding on to this bitterness, you are taking away the blessings God has in store for you in this life. You are hindering your prayer life, and you are limiting your effective witness as a Christian.  

STUDY QUESTION: According to the Scriptures contained within this devotional, what could we learn about bitterness, and our responsibility to deal with it?

PERSONAL INVENTORY: Are you harboring any bitterness towards someone, even God, because of a past hurt?

APPLICATION: Let the bitterness go, repent of hanging on to it and forgive anyone who may have offended you.  God will give you a great blessing of peace.

Father, Thank You for Your forgiveness of my offenses.  Thank You for showing me how to forgive.  Thank You for Your amazing mercy and grace upon my life.  Help me to see any area where I have developed a bitter root.  Help me to tear these roots out of my heart.  In Jesus' precious name, amen...

Be Blessed, Pastor Scott


Copyright ©2017 by Pastor Scott Wright.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000