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A Proactive Approach to Stop the Root of Bitterness

I spent my final year of college taking agricultural engineering classes. Some of my classmates who grew up on farms in southern Delaware joked about all the lawncare companies that claimed to have the secret to ridding yards of weeds. Years later while teaching, I spent summers working for a local Hardscaping company. One of the products we used on the job was Roundup. Before the recent lawsuit against Roundup, I discovered that most store-bought brands were watered down, needing to place a special order for the potent stuff.

Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it—Hebrews 12:15.

The author of Hebrews brings up a spiritual weed. One of the Veggie Tales videos brought up a similar concept in the Rumor Weed. Instead of dramatizing how quickly rumors can spread, one first century historian touches on the dangers of bitterness. Like opening a door for the Devil to enter your life, Ephesians 4:26-27, if bitterness is allowed to linger within your heart, it can poison your soul. Jesus talks about this in His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:22. Perhaps, envy and jealous conceived within Cain the root of bitterness that ultimately led him to take Abel’s life.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin). 31 Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind), Ephesians 4:30-31.

Following the apostle Paul’s introduction to giving the Devil an open door, a few verses later there are additional consequences of the root of bitterness. One byproduct is grieving the Holy Spirit by lashing out in a fit of rage, frustrated by a specific person or situation in life. Two chapters later, the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20 serves as a proactive approach to stop the root of bitterness from spreading like a spiritual cancer. As you learn to put on each of these pieces of spiritual armor daily, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, bitterness will begin to fade.

by Jay Mankus

Humble Beginnings

King Solomon was the first to state what many people tend to think following an epic collapse or fall from grace in Proverbs 16:18. Pride does call before the fall and results in a reboot or as the Bible suggests a humble beginning. No one likes to start over. Whether this refers to a job, life or video game, being forced to turn the clocks back and start from scratch can be deflating. Yet, humility puts life into its proper perspective.

Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his elevation [as a Christian, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God], 10 And the rich [person ought to glory] in being humbled [by being shown his human frailty], because like the flower of the grass he will pass away, James 1:9-10.

One Old Testament prophet writes about the nature of death in Isaiah 40:8. Each spring flowers bloom, grass grows and trees become covered by leaves. Unfortunately, by the end of fall, lawns become dormant, leaves fall to the earth and flowers disappear for the year until this cycle repeats itself annually. If you own a house or maintain a property, keeping up weekly maintenance can lead to humble beginnings.

For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [[b]which my moral instinct condemns]. 16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. 17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me, Romans 7:15-17.

Yet, beneath the surface of every human being, there lies an internal battle that never ends. The apostle Paul writes about this wrestling match in the passage above. Whenever you discover that you’ve become a hypocrite, doing the exact opposite that you want, conviction, guilt and humility will follow. In this age of mental health awareness, your own sinful nature is often the source of your problems. Therefore, the next time you mess up, use this humble beginning as a teachable moment to rise from the ashes of despair.

by Jay Mankus

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