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Survive and Thrive Like the Church At Thessalonica
I preached this message Sunday June 13, 2010 here at FIBC.
I take my subject from Heb. 12:15 which speaks about the “Root of bitterness.” These are tough times and sometimes in tough times, even Christians do not respond correctly to the things that happen to us. There is a progression that ultimately leads to a root of bitterness…and it is almost always in this order: HURT must be dealt with Scripturally or it will become ANGER. Anger must be dealt with Scripturally or it will become BITTERNESS.
Hurt that is resolved in response to the truth of God’s Word will never become anger. Failure to resolve hurt by God’s grace will result in anger. When anger is not resolved, the next step is bitterness.
In almost 30 years of pastoring, I have seen the pattern and progression more times than I can count. A broken husband or wife will pour out the tears of brokenness and we will pray, share Scriptures, and encourage faith in God to work it out or bring them through. Many times we watch helplessly as they progress through each stage until it is virtually hopeless. The word “bitterness” is referring to “poison.” It poisons the spirit of the bitter one. Read Eph. 4:25-31 and notice v.31 In Acts 8:23, Simon the sorcerer was “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” “Gall”= bile=poison.
This is of utmost importance to understand: Many times the fruit of the root of bitterness is inadvertently directed toward God, blaming God and even taking it out on Him by forsaking Church, the Bible, Prayer, fellowship and service. I cannot tell you the times bitter persons have told me how they got out of Church and away for the Lord all the while justifying their actions not realizing they took it out on the Lord.
Now here are a few of the fruits of the root of bitterness:
- Defilement. Heb. 12:15 Our hearts and lives are contaminated before God. We become unclean before God. Sin abides in our hearts. James 3:6 describes the same truth concerning the tongue which “defileth the whole body.”
- Division is a fruit of the root of bitterness. It divides the bitter person from fellowship with God, family, friends and drives away the ones who love us the most. Cain in Gen. 3 is a good example. Surely he and his family missed the closeness of each other’s company all because he became bitter.
- Deadness to the Holy Spirit and the things of God is a fruit of the root of bitterness. Bitterness controls and consumes the heart and keeps the bitter one from sensing the sweet presences of God. Eph. 4:30-31 Shows that these things including bitterness “grieve the Holy Spirit.”
- Deception is a fruit of the root of bitterness. I have been amazed at the deception bitter people live with. Many times, they cannot see where they are wrong and they feel justified to be bitter. We never try to win over something we will not admit is true. I have had people say very bitterly, “I AM NOT BITTER!”
- Depression is a fruit of the root of bitterness. Bitter people have poison in their heart and the first victim of bitterness is the bitter person. They live in mental anguish and are consumed with the object of their bitterness. Not all depression comes from bitterness but all bitterness has a measure of depression.
- Delirium (madness) is a fruit of the root of bitterness. A bitter person carries a certain amount of anger into the bitter stage. That is why Eph. 4: 30-31 mentions all the other kindred attitudes: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking and malice.
- Damage is a fruit of the root of bitterness. The longer a person stays bitter, the more damage is done in every personal relationship including fellowship with the Lord. The longer they suffer from bitterness, the more suffering they spread with their bitterness. It affects whole families, whole Churches, friends and chips away at the foundation of their faith.
- Distraction is a fruit of the root of bitterness. Cannot fellowship with the Lord without thinking about the source of the bitterness. Cannot pray without thinking about the source of the bitterness. Cannot listen quietly and contently to the Word of God without thinking of the source of bitterness. Cannot live a successful Christian life with the fruit of the Holy Spirit described in Gal. 5:22-23
- Finally and sometimes fatally, sometimes bitterness determines destiny, and instead of being broken and Born Again, the bitter one is bound in the chains of sin and sorrow. And even more sadly, many times the bitterness spreads to others and the bitterness of one keeps the other from coming to Christ. Let me explain. When a father or mother allows bitterness to take them out of Church, they take their children with them and away from the environment best suited to reach their hearts. (Romans 10:9-17)
Bitterness will control, confuse, callous, condemn, and create a critical, casual, carnal and caustic Christian.
If you are bitter you will not get better until you deal with the bitterness. As long as Satan can entice you to feel justified, he can keep you locked in the prison with the poison of bitterness. How do you deal with bitterness? Romans 12:9-21