Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice.”
The other day on Facebook, we talked about the root of bitterness and the small fibers or side roots that can trigger new growth of the old root. Someone asked, what exactly is the bitterness spoken of in the scriptures and how do you pluck it out?
The word in both verses we used, Hebrews 12:15 and Ephesians 4:31, is the word “pikrias πικρίας" Strong's 4088, which means an "embittered spirit”. What does it mean to be embittered? It means to be “soured, envenomed; to make pungent (flavor)”. This would mean, putting it into perspective, your spirit would be filled with venom, sourness, acidity, and be pungent or putrid. These are not the only references, either, to bitterness inside us. In Deuteronomy 29:18, Moses refers to “lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood;” The gall mentioned is like venom, and is a bitter, poisonous herb, while the wormwood is a plant that can cause seizures and death by kidney failure. None of these examples sound in any way like being filled with the Holy Spirit, do they?
So to purge ourselves of the root of bitterness, we need to replace that venomous, sour, putrid spirit with HIS Spirit! How do we do that for ourselves? Let's Explore this:
After reading Part 1 of this teaching, you may have recognized by now that I enjoy my garden and all the natural creations of Yahweh’s. I find so many lessons in his creations. So returning to the garden example, you can choke out those little left behind roots by planting the RIGHT seeds! If you plant low-growing seeds, they will create a “carpet” that can blanket the ground which may prevent the root from getting the right amount of sunshine. You can plant another layer of plants that grow a bit taller than that ground cover, and these will grow deeper roots than the low growing plant. Then plant a third layer, that grows bigger and taller than the mid-range plant. NOW, you have plenty of good roots, taking up the nutrients from the soil and the new plants will need the water the weed-root used to thrive. You have ground cover that is shading the weed roots from the warmth of the sun. All of these will deprive the bad weed of what it needs to survive and grow.
What are these good seeds and plants we are planting that will deprive the weeds bitter root?
- READ READ READ! And Study, Study, Study!!! Get that word of Yahweh in you, so that you can call upon verses for strength when you need them. Luke 8:11 “. . .The seed is the word of God.” The Parable explains how some seed fell on the road, the rock, amongst thorns, and some on good ground. We want our hearts to be the GOOD ground. So we want that seed, that word in us. When it is in us, we can call upon his counsel and promises anytime we need it for strength and even for correction.
- Do good for those who persecute you - the toughest “good” is often those good works for the person “attached” to that bitter root. Galatians 6:9 says, though, “Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let's do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith.”
I once volunteered to take a meal to someone who had hurt me and my children horribly with rumors, gossip, and back-biting. Their family was very ill with various stages of flu and bronchitis. No one was helping them, so I volunteered - and I made the kids go with me to deliver the food. It was one of the most difficult things for me to do, but it helped me realize that I CAN be kind to someone and still love them as well as forgive them, yet not let them back into my life for further hurt. We did not become friends, nothing I did stopped what was going on, but I changed inside, my children changed inside. Over time we lost touch and who knows what seeds we planted in them, but I DO KNOW the seeds that were planted in me.
A word of caution here: There are some people for whom you just cannot do some physical act for, and this Yahweh understands. Either the conflict between you two will put you or someone else in harms way, or could cause legal problems. Maybe it would harm your family or children. For those rare, extreme situations, the only thing you can do for them is the next thing on the list: PRAYER.
- Pray - for them and yourself. For them - there have been those times when the other person is unwilling to accept your efforts of kindness and it has become difficult or even volatile. Open your own heart in prayer to Yahweh. Ask forgiveness for anything that you may have contributed to the situation. Then pray for all good changes to take place in that person's heart. Pray for shalom, softening, even direction for yourself. Communicate with Yahweh, but whatever you do, don’t pour fertilizer on that bitter root by believing that you are justified for holding a grudge or wishing vengeance. That will not help the bitter root to be plucked, only to be fed and grow stronger.
- Allow the Spirit to change your heart. Give in to the rebuke, correction, and influence of the Ruach, so that your heart will be opened to what it needs. True forgiveness of another will allow this change to take place in your heart. John 16:8 “When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment;” Allow this in you, and let it go.
- Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:29-30 warns us, “Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” It is very plain to see that the root of bitterness and the speech which comes out of our mouth can “grieve” the holy spirit. Guard your tongue and protect yourself from gossiping or fueling the situation with negativity so that you do not grieve the Holy Spirit. This grief mentioned is one that is deeply felt, a sorrow, distress, heaviness that can be brought to the Holy Spirit by our unwillingness to cleanse ourselves through the processes mentioned.
Galatians 6:8-10 "For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let's do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith."
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “Remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work."
Remember that you can only change what is in YOUR heart, BUT Yahweh can change what is in their heart. Don’t make yourself a doormat, but don’t hold onto the anger, vengeful feelings, don’t rehash over and over what they did to you - in your mind or in gossip. Be extra careful not to talk about them. This may be very difficult, but you need to purge those behaviours and feelings from you through Yahweh and the Holy Spirit so that your heart is soft and pure.
One more word of advice is to avoid conversations with people who are negative and want to bring up your past hurt, anger and bitterness. They stoke the fire within you and make you recall all the feelings you're trying to remove out of your heart. Tell the person that you're trying to get over what happened and get all the bad feelings out of you. Ask them to respect what your're trying to do. This may be a witness and example for them. If they refuse to respect what your're wishes, then you may have to cut back or cut off the time you spend with them.
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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