I was eavesdropping on a conversation recently (couldn’t help it – I was at the hair salon!) Anyway, one lady was complaining about her husband and another woman. The stylist listened attentively and threw in an occassional “Ohhh!” or “No!!” The complaining lady was really angry (and I could see why!)
I couldn’t stop thinking about what I overheard because it related to the subject of today’s post. When we’ve been deeply hurt and can’t forgive, it will lead to bitterness of heart.
According to BIBLE STUDY TOOLS, bitterness is defined as anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly. It is synonymous with resentment and envy.
In an article in Psychology Today, Stephen Diamond, Ph.D., defines bitterness as “a chronic and pervasive state of smoldering resentment,” and deservedly regards it as “one of the most destructive and toxic of human emotions.”
He says, ” if we repeatedly ruminate over how we’ve been victimized, our “nursing” our wrongs may eventually come to define some essential part of who we are. Take hold of our very personality. And so we’ll end up becoming victims not so much of anyone else but, principally, of ourselves.”
Hebrews 12:15 says, “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.”
Since a root is the hidden part of a plant or tree, we can think of a bitter root as being the hidden source of bitterness. What is the seed from which that bitter root sprouts in our heart? It’s that tiny speck of unforgiveness, that tiny speck of indignation that we allow to remain in our hearts. It’s that tiny speck of resentment that we justify in our mind.
Let’s call this tree Bitterness as we consider the function of a root. Roots can keep a tree in place for hundreds of years and nothing can move it . Winds and storms won’t dislodge it!
Secondly, the roots nourish the tree to make sure it keeps growing stronger and stronger.
And lastly, roots can cause trouble when they grow where they aren’t wanted – like when they invade water pipes or sewer systems.
Is it any wonder that God warns us about allowing a bitter root to grow in our heart? But where He gives a warning, he provides an answer.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:1 NIV
As we humbly come to Him, seeking His way and His will, God will provide the grace to forgive and let go. What is the opposite of bitterness? Contentment, Happiness, Sweetness! That is God’s plan for you.
Is your heart breaking? Are you in deep despair? Is depression crushing you? Even when you think you can’t hang on, God will hang on to you. No matter what life is throwing at you, no matter how weak your faith might be right now, God will hold you fast.
How do I know? I know because He has done this for me. It has been over 60 years since I asked Jesus to be my Savior. Through many trials, through many sorrows, through all my many failings, He never let me go.
He never said, “That’s it! I’m done with her. She’s gone too far now. Enough is enough!”
When I doubted, He held me fast. When I rebelled, He held me fast. When I went astray, He held me fast. When I was in deep despair, He held me fast. When my heart was broken, He held me fast. This is why I love Him and why I praise Him unashamedly.
It is when I acknowledged my own shortcomings, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses that I grasped the depth of His great love and forgiveness and understood just how much I really need Him.
If you are searching for love, forgiveness, and mercy, come to Jesus. His love surpasses all understanding. He loves you, yes you.
Scripture for Meditation
“If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there … Your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:10)
“Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
“You are not your own;you were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)
“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:15-16NLT
“O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness . . . put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” Psalm 130:2-4, 7
Are you ever too hard on yourself? When confronted with our failures or weaknesses, we can feel like we’re not good enough, not measuring up. I struggle with this sometimes, especially when I have been too harsh with my middle school students. Why can’t I be more patient?
When we’re too hard on ourselves, we get discouraged and feel like giving up. Nothing could make Satan happier! Remember: Satan is “the accuser of the brethren.” and “a liar” (Revelation 12:10, John 8:44) But the promise of God is this:
“there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 NIV
Sunday in church, I was feeling discouraged. We sang the song His Mercy is More. As we sang, the Holy Spirit comforted my soul like only He can. The lyrics say, “Our sins they are many. His mercy is more.”
I felt the love of God embrace me. God is not a hard taskmaster. He is loving, merciful, and kind. No matter how many times we mess up, He still loves us more than we will ever understand. Let the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, speak to your heart through God’s Word.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
His mercy and love are greater than all our failures, mess-ups, and shortcomings.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” 1 John 4:16 NIV
The Apostle Paul wrote, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power …… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5 NIV
This is our God. If you need His encouragement today, I urge you to listen to and sing, this beautiful song. I pray that it will comfort you as much as it comforted me. God’s love is reaching out to us every day.
Lord, may we have a deeper revelation of your love.
Some people just don’t deserve what you did for them! They’re so ungrateful!
Today, I gave a science test at the Junior High School. I thought the kids would do really well because I had worked hard to prepare them. I created a Jeopardy Game for them to play for review (which wasn’t free, by the way). And I spent considerable time thinking of a better way to explain the concepts. You could say I gave it my all, above and beyond! I knew they would do well.
Only they didn’t!
Some of them were bubbling in random answers without reading the question! (Are you kidding me?!)
Others were looking out the window and thinking about something else. (What’s wrong with these kids?!)
I knew that most of them had not studied and didn’t care if they passed or not. By the time I gave the test to 4 different classes, each set of grades worse than the class before, I was angry and frustrated. (Why should I work harder than they do? I’m tired of this! I don’t care anymore! They can all fail for all I care!! I’m done!)
On the drive home, I mumbled, “Lord help me to have a better attitude.” (and not with a lot of passion).
Right away He reminded me of how patient He was with me when I didn’t care what He had done for me.
What can I say to that? He died for me, and I went about living like I didn’t know it, only I did know it. Yes, there was a time when I did this. When I was at my worst, I’m sure He had angels watching over me to keep me alive until I came to my senses. He was patient with me. He never stopped loving me. And He certainly never said, “I’m done with her!”
After today, I better understand His love, forgiveness, and mercy. He never said, “I don’t care anymore.” He just kept loving me, interceding for me, and calling my name. For this I am eternally grateful.
Let us follow His example, showing His love to those He puts in our path each day.
“David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” 2 Samuel 24:14
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:5
“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him…” Psalm 103:17 KJV
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NIV
“Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high? He raises the poor from the dustand lifts the needy from the ash heap” Psalm 113:5,7 NIV
“He remembered us in our low estate. His love endures forever.”Psalm 136:23 NIV
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16 NIV
“The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” Psalm 145:9
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Jesus
The life of Esther fascinates me. Although she was a Jewish orphan, God used her in an extraordinary way.
When my daughter was a little girl, she dressed up like Queen Esther for Halloween. Personally, I don’t care for Halloween. But, at least she was dressed up like a Heroine of the Bible!
Christina loved the idea of dressing up like a queen, so I made her a gown of pale blue satin, trimmed with gold. Like Queen Esther, she was beautiful.
Esther was a little Jewish orphan girl, adopted by her older cousin Mordecai (sometime between 486 and 465 B.C.). He brought her up like his own daughter. She admired and respected him. Esther grew up to be beautiful and loved.
At that time, Xerxes was king over the great Persian Empire. His official title was Shahanshah. Interestingly, it means King of Kings.
Angry because Queen Vashti’s did not appear when summoned, King Xerxes got rid of her and was advised to search for a new queen. He appointed commissioners to search his vast empire for the most beautiful women and bring them to his harem. Esther was one of those chosen.
The beautiful Esther dazzled King Xerxes more than any of the others, and he made her his queen. He was enthralled with her loveliness.
This story gets even better when you know a little about King Xerxes and the Persian Empire. Although not in the Bible, history reveals the kind of man he was.
Xerxes was a king of war. He assembled the largest and most well equipped fighting force ever put into the field up to that time in history. He had to deal with the insurrection of Babylon and the revolts against Persian rule in Egypt. He subjugated the city of Babylon, and he amassed an army of over two million men and four thousand ships to invade Greece.
Herodotus tells the story of Pythias the Lydian whose five sons were among those conscripted for battle. Pythias asked if his eldest son could be released from the army so that he would have at least one son to care for him in his old age. Xerxes became enraged at this request as it meant that Pythias doubted his chances of success. He had the eldest son removed from the ranks, cut him in half, placed the two sections of the corpse on either side of the road, and marched his troops away between them.¹
Xerxes was not a man to be trifled with.
One day, Mordecai overheard some men plotting to kill the King. He informed Esther and she warned the King, giving credit to Mordecai. Unknown to anyone, including the King, evil was about to encroach the palace and all 127 provinces of the Persian Empire.
This evil sprang from the boastful pride, jealousy, and rage of an anti-semitic man named Haman. Mordecai, knowing that Haman was evil, refused to bow down to him and honor him even though the king had ordered it.
This infuriated Haman and he hated Mordecai and the Jews with a vengeance. He searched for a way to murder Mordecai and slaughter the Jews.
Haman tricked the king into issuing a decree to all 127 provinces with the order to destroy and kill all the Jews – young and old, women and children.
When Mordecai uncovered Haman’s conspiracy, he urged Esther to approach the king and beg for mercy. He said, “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
Esther had never told the king that she was a Jew. She also knew that the law commanded that if anyone approached the king without being summoned, they would be put to death. The only exception was if the king extended his scepter.
Knowing this would put her life in grave danger, Esther sent word to Mordecai and asked that all the Jews of the city would fast and pray for three days and nights.
On the third day, Esther adorned herself in her royal robes and approached the king in his inner court. When he saw her, he was pleased and held out his golden scepter. He asked her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”
Esther replied, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come to the banquet I have prepared.”
While they were at the banquet, the king asked her again, “What is your request?”
I don’t know if she was too frightened to ask the king for mercy and admit that she was a Jew, but she didn’t answer him then. The Bible doesn’t explain why, but she asked the king and Haman to come back for another banquet the next day.
On his way home Haman passed Mordecai, and again Mordecai would not bow down to him. Enraged, Haman went home and boasted to his friends about his vast wealth and all that he had. “And that’s not all,” bragged Haman. “I am the only one Queen Esther invited to attend the banquet tomorrow for the king. But this brings me no pleasure as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”
At his friends’ urging, Haman built a gallows and conspired to hang Mordecai there. Haman didn’t know it, but his evil pride would soon bring him down.
That night, the King was reminded that nothing had ever been done to honor Mordecai for saving the King from a murderous plot. Haman had entered the King’s palace to speak to the King about hanging Mordecai, but before Haman could speak, the king asked Haman, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”
Haman thought to himself, “Who would the king possibly want to honor more than me?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Let the princes robe the man and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’ ”
“Go at once,”the king commanded Haman. “Do just as you suggested for Mordecai the Jew!”
I wish I could have seen his face! Talk about shock! Things are looking bad for Haman, but they are going to get even worse!
At the second banquet for the king and Haman, the king asked Esther again what she desired.
She said, “Grant me my life and spare my people. For I and my people have been sold for destruction, slaughter, and annihilation.”
King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?”
Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.”
The king stormed out in a rage. Haman was terrified. He threw himself upon the Queen’s couch and begged for his life. Then, the king walked back in and found Haman falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.
“The king cried, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” Haman was immediately taken away and hanged on the Gallows he had built for Mordecai.
King Xerxes gave Esther Haman’s estate. He also gave Mordecai his signet ring and told him to write a decree on behalf of all the Jews and seal it with his ring. The Jews got relief from their enemies and celebrated with joy and feasting. They called it the Feast of Purim.
The Feast of Purim is celebrated, to this day, among the Jewish people. Most recently, The Feast of Purim was celebrated on March 1, 2018.
Perhaps, like Esther, you have also been brought to your position for such a time as this.