I love cherries—cherries of all kinds—but my favorite is Bing cherries, the dark red, sweet ones. Yesterday I was eating a handful (okay … maybe two handfuls) and enjoying the sweet taste … until I came to one that was bitter. I couldn’t tell that it was going to be bitter just by looking at it. It looked just like the others that were so sweet and wonderful, but when I took that bite (went beyond the surface to the inside), I quickly discovered the bitterness. And, oh, it left the worst taste in my mouth … until I could eat the next sweet one. Sometimes that is exactly how we are.
On the outside we look like all other Christians—full of love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness (you know, the fruit of the Spirit)—but on the inside, we are harboring bitterness.
Have you ever been there? I know I have. Someone says or does something to hurt us or a loved one, whether intentional or not, and that seed of bitterness is planted in our hearts. If we aren’t guarding our hearts and allow that seed to take root, then we will leave a bad taste in people’s lives as they discover our bitterness.
Hebrews 12:14–15 warns us “to follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man will see the Lord … lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
Harboring bitterness is just like any other sin … it wounds our witness. I remember my grandmother telling our Sunday school class several years ago about a time many, many years ago when someone had hurt a person she dearly loved. I can’t think of a more genuine Christian lady than my grandmother, but she allowed that seed of bitterness to take root and grow. One day my dad went to her (in love) and simply said, “That bitterness you are carrying around doesn’t look good on you.” Her testimony was that Joe was right, and she asked God to forgive her and to replace that bitterness with love for that person. And He did.
God knows we are going to be hurt, and that (gasp!) we are going to hurt others, but we should guard against taking that hurt to heart and instead take that hurt to Him.
Ephesians 4:31–32 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
My prayer today is that God would replace any bitterness that may have taken root in my heart with love and compassion. If I have left a bad taste in your life because of any bitterness in mine, I ask that you will forgive me and that God would allow me another opportunity to instead leave you with a sweet taste of the fruit of the Spirit.
Love you all!
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