The Root & Branches of Bitterness

The Root & Branches of Bitterness

Hebrews 12:12-15 Wherefore lift up the hands which HANG DOWN, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lamed be turned out of the way; BUT RATHER LET IT BE HEALED. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Looking diligently LEST THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS SPRINGING UP TROUBLE YOU, and thereby many be defiled.

It is interesting to note that bitterness is described as a root… that which is essential for the life-flow of the entire tree. The branches that are nourished by bitterness are many and varied but each one draws its life from the “root” of bitterness. Bitterness is a terrible cancer. Bitterness and disappointment can hide in many dark places. But sooner or later the light will shine and the hidden bitterness will thrive. Bitterness is a root, it can grow unseen. You can cut the seen part of the plant down, leave the root, and growth of bitterness will return.

Performing the work of the ministry demands interaction with people… people with all their faults and failings; people that are invested into with time, energy and even finance who seem completely unthankful or dismissive of gratitude; people who come and go; people who need more than the reserve seems to supply. Yet they ARE what “ministry” is all about. Often the bad can overshadow the good until the preacher becomes lopsided in his views.

All these things can lead to:


we live in a very angry society and it appears everyone is angry with someone. Anger must be regulated with proper limits else it becomes strangulation.


Wrath is long term anger. Grudges, shouting matches, bitterness, all a lack of forgiveness.


Control starts as an attitude and grows into controlling spirits. Where there is anger and it yields to wrath the next phase will grow… this is controlling, manipulation, coercion.

We find this to be ultimatums and demands. This is not submission but a demanding of rights.


With controlling attitudes yielding to controlling spirits we see a shift into a focus on performance and professionalism. Within this will come a demand for perfection, and since none can be perfect, and you cannot live up to your standards, this demand will lead to disappointment in people. Be real.


An offended spirit is a bad cancer and if not removed will grow and kill the host.
Some people are carrying a chip on their shoulder and anyone that looks at them strangely will offend them.

Psa. 119: 165 Great PEACE have they which LOVE Thy LAW: AND NOTHING SHALL OFFEND THEM.

The spirit of offense is counter productive to building people and building churches. We must grow above this offensive plane. Just when we grow above being offended, hurt, and dying, we get hurt and fall backward into the quicksand. This trap is deadly.


Rejection is a morale crusher! Watching people walk out the door that you cannot reach is heart rending! Because of the pain and bitterness one gets where they will refuse to accept any sound doctrine. In this stage the ears are closed, they refuse to hear and accept preaching that warns, or instructs. I don’t care becomes the call. This stage is spiritual vomit.


When one cannot gain control and keep it and there grows a disappointment that people are people and people will not always perform to your standards and demands, — there will grow a spirit of alienation.

This spirit might grow in to CLIQUES, small exclusive groups with demands to be in my group: you must perform to my standard, if you don’t cut my standard, you are inferior and not qualified to be WITH US.

Small groups can tend to become gossip meeting places. If you say this, the small group will be angry and resist you.

As the group divides, isolation becomes easy.
A divided house cannot stand, the enemy knows this.
So the enemy will use spiritual reason to divide the house and make it weaker and easier to conquer.


Many times hatred and hostility are driven by jealousy, fear, anger, and a sense of injury. It grows because we hide it under many different files. We know better than to call hatred hatred. We know better than to call hostility hostility. We will not admit we are jealous. We will not even use the word dislike, how about righteous indignation?


It is strange how values shift in leadership. God accepted David the adulterer and murderer, and rejected Saul the rebellious student. Today most churches would reverse this order. Churches accept rebellious groups running in rebellion from other churches. You are courting danger. We so count numbers and tithes. The leader with the biggest toys will always win?

1 Sam. 15:23 For REBELLION is as the sin of WITCHCRAFT, and stubbornness is iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he rejected thee from King.


This is manifested in withdrawal from sound fellowship. The more alone a man becomes the more out-of-focus his doctrine becomes. While all men need their “alone times” the impulse to isolate one’s self entirely is setting a direction of ruin. Bitterness can persuade individuals to seclude themselves from wholesome fellowship where they might find much needed help and drive them into dark corners of an independent spirit.

11. In the work of the ministry we must constantly be made to recall that:
God can turn messes into messages.
God can turn tests into testimonies.
God can turn chaos into creations.

— jlg —

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