Harboring the Root of Bitterness

Updated on April 7, 2018
BarbSmitherman profile image

Dr. Barbara Smitherman is an Ordained Minister and Senior Pastor of the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center. And Author of several books.

Root of Bitterness

Anyone who has ever planted a garden of any kind, knows that you cannot just cut the tops off of weeds above the ground and expect them to instantly be gone. Or how many have ever had a problem with a tree root making it's way into your plumbing? We all know what a major obstacle that can created not to mention the expense involved in correcting that problem. In order to eliminate unwanted weeds in your garden, they must be ripped up from the root, otherwise, they will just keep coming back, when they do, they more than likely will multiply and before you know it there are weeds everywhere and before you know it, the weeds have taken over the entire garden, choking the life out of the plants you have planted.

In Hebrews 12:15 God uses the agricultural image of a weed springing up to describe that noxious sin that has a way of slithering into the hearts of men many times unaware, and that is the sin of bitterness.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Heb. 12:15 KJV).

Bitterness is not one of those outwardly obvious sins that can be easily recognized by others. Instead it is one that is subtle, a covert sin growing deep in the fallow soil of one's heart.

The author of Hebrews informs us that the root of bitterness left unattended or undealt with, like any other seed, will surely spring forth, when that happens, "many will become defiled." When the root of bitterness is harbored in the heart of an individual, the results will be that of suffering and hardships for them as well as those around them. Just like the root of a weed tunnels deep into the soil depriving healthy plants of necessary nutrients and water so does bitterness tunnel deep into the hearts of those who have been hurt or otherwise tramatized depriving them of happiness, joy and the ability to be productive in certain areas of their lives.

Once bitterness has taken root in the heart of a man, the resultant actions that bitterness causes cannot just be cut off from the top. They need to be plowed up from the root. This is something that needs intervention from God. For many times the person harboring the bitterness may not even be aware they are indeed harboring this noxious sin.

In the book Ephesians the Apostle Paul describes to us the company that bitterness keeps. Bitterness is a spirit and spirits are like wolves they never travel alone they always travel in packs. So, Paul lets us know who they are that accompanies bitterness: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice”. Ephesians 4:31

If bitterness is not dealt with, it is not uncommon for the person to strike out at those who are similar to or have something in common with the object of their bitterness. If it is the spouse or ex-spouse of the person, they will many times begin to compare all people of that particular gender to the one who hurt them. (all men/women are the same)

Some will go so far as to begin Instructing others in how they should be behaving or reacting to their spouse or significant other (e.g. men should…. women should…).

In the process, people are hurt, and joy is replaced by confusion as others attempt to live up to the ideals imposed upon them by the person who is harboring bitterness.

Just like a weed invades the garden, bitterness will invade an entire family, immediate and possibly extended. It will eventually spread out to those close to the person as well, friends, co-workers, neighbors etc.

In John 15:1, Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener" (NIV).

It is time now to trust the husbandman, the gardener of your soul. It’s time to recognize the root of bitterness and ask God to help you deal with it before it effects your life, your relationships, your ministry as well as your well-being.

© 2018 Barbara Smitherman


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      This made me think of grudges that are passed down to children in almost every household. Good day to read this before I go out to do spring weeding ;-) Thank you for sharing this.


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