I look out at the landscaped areas around my yard and they fall short of my expectations. Oh, the roses are blooming beautifully. The palms accent with a bit of tropical vibe. The agave, yucca and cactus produce a Texas hill country feel. The native stones decorate, too.
It’s those troublesome weeds! They weren’t invited. They demand time and sweat that I’d rather not give. They defile the scene.
Yes, I’ve pulled them up, but they keep coming back. Some of them from seed, but I recognize other weeds in the same place, the same species, poking up through the mulch again.
Those weeds would not be there if I had pulled up the whole root, but I didn’t. I just yanked off the green part, and the living root remained, thriving, growing, producing the same weed again and again.
“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15).
It’s possible to fall short of the grace of God. It’s possible that God looks at you and he’s disappointed, like Jesus when he looked over the city of Jerusalem and wept. Bitter unbelief produced unrecoverable trouble for people there, whom Jesus came to save. They rejected his grace.
Beware of bitterness. Like the roots of a weed, it isn’t removed quickly or easily. You think you’ve yanked it up, that things are all nice and pretty. But its roots hang on, and one day—Surprise! You are irritable about your job. You get frustrated with other drivers. You become short-tempered around your family. You throw the remote control at the TV when your team loses. Resenting your spouse’s lack of meeting your expectations.
Where did that come from?!
God should pull you up, including your roots of bitterness, and toss you into the heap like a weed. His grace—instead—brings you up.
You are not a weed. Not in the gracious view of your loving God.
You are a beautiful rose or palm (or maybe a cactus, a bit prickly but you’re still beautiful). You aren’t a problem to God. You are his precious child. A person who is forgiven, saved and given the gift of his grace that never falls short.
Because God’s grace never falls short, the you don’t fall short, either, when God’s grace is the answer to your troubles, when God’s grace washes clean your sins and mistakes, when God’s grace fortifies you for a struggle against the roots of bitterness.
PRAYER: God of loving grace, you aren’t bitter. I pray for your beauty, peace and loving kindness to make me better not bitter, so that I can live in your grace and give it to others. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: I’m reading a book right now that addresses bitterness, and I found that I need to understand it more clearly and closely. This helps me address and avoid it. Here is a handy list of what the author calls “The B’s of Bitterness.” Which one or two of these gets your attention? Take some time to pray about it, asking for clarity, comfort, and change.
- Builds Its Case. Bitterness builds it case against anyone who unjustly hurts us, and thinks, “They deserve some pain of their own.”
- Blinds to Future Possibilities. It is so busy dealing with the past, it doesn’t see what’s ahead.
- Blocks Spiritual Growth. If you say, “I’m never bitter,” then this blockage has already happened.
- Blurs Your Vision. Like firing off a nasty social media post or email. Later you read it and can’t believe you wrote such trash.
- Binds Your Joy. Bitterness is unmanaged negativity.
- Buries Your Peace. Your conscience won’t allow you to be satisfied with yourself when you are bitter. You’ll sense something out of balance (and quite possibly point the finger elsewhere).
- Bullies into Bad Behavior. It will control you.
- Blights Your Feelings. Bitterness makes you feel much more strongly in a sense of injustice, makes you a victim, and then justifies acting on emotions instead of truth.
- Blasts Your Hope. You can’t imagine things getting better.
- Betrays Love. The person you are supposed to love, you don’t.
(Johnny Hunt. Unspoken: What Men Won’t Talk about and Why. Harvest House Publishers, 2018, pp. 133-136).