Don’t Let Bitterness Take Root
|From:||“Teh Eng Chuan” <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Subject:||Fw: Don’t Let Bitterness Take Root|
|Date:||Sat, 24 Feb 2007 11:14:18 -0800|
Nice song attached Don’t Let Bitterness Take Root
By Joel Osteen
We all have unfair and unjust things happen to us; that’s a part of life. When we are hurt, we can choose to hold on to that pain and become bitter, or we can choose to let it go and trust God to make it up to us. I heard somewhere that 70 percent of people today are angry about something. Imagine that! Seven out of every ten people you encounter today will be angry. And that’s not counting the people who pass you on the freeway! People who harbor anger often don’t realize it, but they are poisoning their own lives. When we don’t forgive, we’re not hurting the other person. We’re not hurting the company that did us wrong.
We’re not hurting God. We’re only hurting ourselves. If you want to live your best life now, you must be quick to forgive. Learn to let go of the hurts and pains of the past. Don’t let bitterness take root in your life. Maybe something happened to you when you were younger, somebody mistreated you, somebody took advantage of you. Perhaps somebody cheated you out of a promotion or lied about you. Maybe a good friend betrayed you, and you have a good reason to be angry and bitter. For your emotional and spiritual health, you must let that go. It doesn’t do any good to go around hating somebody.
Nor does it make any sense to stay angry for what somebody’s already done to you. You can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about the future. You might as well forgive and start trusting God to make it up to you. The Scripture says, Make sure that no root of bitterness shoots forth and causes trouble and many become contaminated by it.” Notice, bitterness is described as a root. Think about that.
You can’t see a root; it’s deep down under the ground. But you can be sure of this: A bitter root will produce bitter fruit. If we have bitterness on the inside, it’s going to affect every area of our lives. Many people attempt to bury the hurt and pain deep in their hearts or in their subconscious minds. They harbor unforgiveness and resentment, and then they wonder why they can’t really live in victory, why they can’t get along with other people, why they can’t be happy. They don’t realize it, but it’s because their own hearts are poisoned.
The Bible says, “Out of the heart flow the issues of life.” In other words, if we have bitterness on the inside, it’s going to end up contaminating everything that comes out of us. It will contaminate our personalities and our attitudes, as well as how we treat other people. A lot of people are trying to improve their lives by dealing with the external fruit. They are attempting to rectify their bad habits, bad attitudes, bad tempers, or negative and sour personalities. They’re dealing with the fruit of their lives, trying to change those things, and that is noble. But the truth is, unless they get to the root, they will never be able to change the fruit.
Because as long as that bitter root is growing on the inside, that problem will persist and keep popping up time and again. You may be able to control your behavior for a while or keep a good attitude for a short period of time, but have you ever wondered why you can’t really get free? Why you can’t overcome that destructive habit? You have to go deeper. You must discover why you are so angry, why you can’t get along with other people, why you are always so negative. If you’ll look deeply and get to the root, then you’ll be able to deal with the problem, overcome it, and truly begin to change.
Poisons of the Past I remember a young woman who came to my dad for spiritual help. She had gotten married and for several years could not have a normal relationship with her husband. For some reason, she just couldn’t fully give herself to this man. She loved him, but she couldn’t stand for him to be close to her and to be intimate with her. As you can imagine, this problem was destroying their relationship. She tried to change, but she couldn’t do it. She said, “God, what is wrong with me? Why do I act this way? Why can’t I be a normal wife?”
One day she had a dream, and it reminded her of something that had happened when she was a young girl. In this dream, she saw herself out at the lake swimming, and several young boys came over and sexually assaulted her. She was so angry and so filled with hatred toward those boys, she began to scream, “I hate you! I hate you! I’ll never let another man touch me as long as I live.” When she awakened, she realized that she still had all that anger and hatred in her heart toward those boys. It was buried deep down inside, and it was affecting her relationship with her husband many years later. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but she recognized she had to deal with that unforgiveness, or she would never have a healthy relationship. She decided to release all that hurt and pain. She said, “God, You know it wasn’t right. You know what they did to me. But I’m not going to hold on to it any longer; I’m not going to allow the pain from the past to poison my present and my future. God, I forgive those boys right now. Interestingly, from that moment on, she was able to enjoy a healthy relationship with her husband. She couldn’t change by dealing with the fruit, she had to get down to the root.
And once the bitter root was gone, she was able to break free from her past. Certainly, you do not need to go back and relive every negative experience, recalling all the painful memories of the past. Not at all. But you should examine your heart to make sure you haven’t buried anger and unforgiveness on the inside. If you have areas in your life where you are constantly struggling, trying to change but finding yourself unable to do so, you need to ask God to show you what’s keeping you from being free. Ask God to show you if you have any bitter roots that need to be dug up and extracted. If God brings something to light, be quick to deal with it.
Be willing to change. Don’t let the poisons of the past continue to contaminate your life. Years ago there was a terrible outbreak of disease in a tiny village in a remote part of Africa. Both children and adults were getting sick and overcome with nausea. Several weeks passed, and the sickness became widespread, and people started dying. Word of the disease reached the main city in that area, and experts were dispatched to try to figure out what was causing the problem. They soon discovered that the water was contaminated.
The village got its water supply from a mountain stream that was fed from a spring, so the experts decided to trek upstream and hopefully find the source of the pollution. They traveled for days and finally came to the mouth of the stream. But on the surface, they found nothing wrong. Puzzled, they decided to send some divers down to search as closely to the spring’s opening as possible. What the divers discovered shocked the experts. A large mother pig and her baby piglets were wedged right at the opening of the spring.
Evidently they had fallen in, drowned, and somehow gotten stuck there. Now all that crystal clear, pure mountain spring water was being contaminated as it flowed past the decomposing remains of those dead pigs. In no time after the divers were able to extricate the dead pigs, the water began to flow clean and pure once again. In our lives, something similar takes place. We’ve all had negative things happen to us. Maybe last week, last month, or ten years ago somebody hurt us. And too often, instead of letting it go and giving it to God, we’ve held on to it. We haven’t forgiven, and just as those pigs soured that crystal-clear water, our own lives have become contaminated. The root of bitterness has taken hold. Worse yet, after a while, we accept it. We make room in our hearts for that bitterness; we learn to live with it. “Well, I’m just an angry person. That’s just my personality I’m always like this. I’m always bitter. This is who I am.”
No, with all due respect, that’s not who you are. You need to get rid of the poison that is polluting your life. You were made to be a crystal-clear stream. God created you in His image. He wants you to be happy healthy and whole. God wants you to enjoy life to the full, not to live with bitterness and resentment, polluted and putrefied yourself and contaminating everyone else with whom you have influence. Imagine yourself as a crystal-clear stream. It doesn’t matter how polluted the stream may be right now, or how muddy or murky the waters may look in your life today. If you’ll begin to forgive the people who have offended you, and release all those hurts and pains, that bitterness will leave and you’ll begin to see that crystal-clear water once again.
You’ll begin to experience the joy, peace, and freedom God intended you to have. Maybe that’s why David said, “Search my heart, oh God, and point out anything in me that makes you sad.” We need to search our hearts and make sure we haven’t let any roots of bitterness take hold. It may not be a big thing that is polluting your stream. Maybe your spouse is not spending as much time with you as you’d like, and you can feel yourself starting to get resentful. You’re short with your mate; sarcastic, cryptic, or unfriendly. You’re intentionally becoming harder to get along with. Watch out! That root of bitterness is contaminating your life.
Keep your stream pure. Don’t let your heart get polluted. The Bible talks about being quick to forgive, and the longer we wait, the harder it’s going to be. The longer we hold on to resentment, the deeper that root of bitterness grows. Sometimes, instead of forgiving quickly letting go of the hurts and pains of the past, we quietly bury them deep down inside our hearts and minds. We don’t want to talk about the issue. We don’t want to think about it. We want to ignore it and hope that it will go away. It won’t. Just like those pigs trapped beneath the water, one day that contamination will show up in your life, and it will be a mess.
It will cause you even more pain and sorrow, and if you refuse to deal with it, that bitterness could kill you. A few decades ago, several American companies authorized by the U.S. government attempted to bury toxic waste products underground. They filled large metal containers with chemical waste and other life threatening products, sealed the drums tightly and buried them deep down below the topsoil. They thought that was the end of it. Within a short time, however, many of the containers began to leak and the toxic waste started seeping to the surface, causing all sorts of problems. In some locations, it killed off the vegetation and ruined the water supply. People had to move out of their homes. In one section near Niagara Falls, known as the love Canal, an inordinate number of people began dying of cancer and other debilitating diseases. Many communities are still suffering the effects of toxic-waste burials to this day. What went wrong? They tried to bury something that was too toxic. It couldn’t be contained. They thought they could bury it, and be rid of it once and for all. But they didn’t realize that the materials they were attempting to bury were so powerful.
They were too toxic for the containers to hold. They never dreamed that one day these contaminants would resurface, and they would have to eliminate them all over again. But this time, the toxic materials would be dispersed, and much more difficult to deal with. Had they disposed of them properly in the first place, they wouldn’t have had this terrible problem. It’s the same with us. When somebody hurts us, somebody does us wrong, instead of letting it go and trusting God to make it up to us, we bury it deep down on the inside.
We attempt to cram unforgiveness, resentment, anger, and other destructive responses into our “leak-proof” containers. We seal those lids tightly. Then we put them aside and say, “Good. I’m not going to have to deal with that. I’m rid of it once and for all.” But unfortunately, just as that toxic waste tends to resurface, one day the things you have tamped into your subconscious or buried deeply in the recesses of your heart will rise to the surface and begin to contaminate your life. We can’t live with poison inside us and not expect it to eventually do us harm. Face it. You are not strong enough to contain the toxicity in your life. You need help from someone bigger and stronger than yourself. That’s why you need to give that bitterness, resentment, and other contaminants to God. Forgiveness is the key to being free from toxic bitterness. Forgive the people who hurt you. Forgive the boss who did you wrong. Forgive the friend who betrayed you. Forgive the parent who mistreated you when you were younger. Get rid of all that poison.
Don’t let the root of bitterness grow deeper and continue to contaminate your life. What does this toxic waste look like in our lives? For some people, it seeps out as anger. In other people it smells like depression. For others, it reeks of low self-esteem. It can show up in many different ways, sometimes doing damage before we even realize it has reappeared. The famous boxer James “Lights Out” Toney was known for his aggressiveness in the ring. He fought like a man possessed. He wielded a powerful punch, and for many years, he was the middleweight champion of the world. One day after one of his victories, a reporter asked him, “James, what makes you so good? Why do you fight with such tremendous aggression and passion in the ring?” The reporter expected the standard answer. Something like, ‘Well, you know; I’m just competitive. That’s who I am. I love to box.” But that’s not what Toney said. “Do you really want to know why I fight with such anger and aggression?” asked the boxer. “It’s because my dad abandoned me when I was a child. He left me and my brothers and sisters alone, fatherless, to be raised by my mother all by herself. And now when I step into the ring I picture my dad’s face on my opponent’s. And I have so much hatred, so much anger toward him, I just explode.” Toney was driven by his anger. He had let that root of bitterness get a deep hold on him, and it was poisoning and contaminating his lift. Yes, he was winning the applause of the crowd, the acclaim of the sports world, but he was miserable on the inside. You can have success on the outside, but if you’re bitter on the inside, it’s going to spoil and taint every victory. You must deal with the inside first. You must get to the root of the problem; then you can really be happy. Then you can experience true, untainted, unalloyed victory in your life.
You may be thinking, Joel, I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I just can’t forgive. They hurt me too badly. Wait a minute! You are not forgiving for their sake, you are forgiving for your sake. You are forgiving so that poison doesn’t continue to contaminate your life. If somebody has done you a great wrong, don’t allow them to continue to hurt you by hanging on to it. You’re not hurting them at all. You’re only hurting yourself. I remember one time when I was a little boy, my dad and I were going to lunch with a man. He was driving, and we noticed he wasn’t taking the shortest mute to the restaurant. My dad politely and innocently said, “You know; there’s a quicker way” The man driving the car responded, “Oh, no. We don’t go that way. Years ago somebody that lives on that street did our family wrong, and now we don’t drive by their house anymore.” I didn’t say anything, but even as a ten-year-old boy, I wanted to ask him, “Do you really think you’re hurting that man? Do you really think that he’s standing there by the window, looking outside, getting depressed because you’re not coming by?” Who are we kidding? When we hold on to poison from the past, we’re only hurting ourselves. We’re not hurting anybody else. We need to forgive so we can be free. Forgive so you can be made whole. Forgive to Be Free I recently watched a television program about Rudy Tomjanovich, the former coach of the Houston Rockets basketball team. The program recounted an event in 1973, when as a robust twenty-five-year-old, Rudy was playing for the Rockets. In the middle of a close game, a fight broke out at center court. Rudy rushed over there, running at full speed, to try to break it up. Just as he got there, a player whipped around and without even looking, swung as hard as he could. Unfortunately, the punch landed right in Rudy’s face. It was called the punch heard around the world. It fractured Rudy’s skull, broke his nose and cheekbones, and nearly killed him. Although Rudy was sidelined for months following the devastating blow, he eventually recovered. One day after Rudy had recuperated, a reporter asked him, “Rudy, have you ever forgiven the player that did that to you?” Without hesitation, Rudy said immediately, “Absolutely I’ve totally forgiven him.” The reporter shook his head as though he was perplexed. “Come on, Rudy, that guy nearly killed you. He caused you all that pain. He stole part of your career. Do you mean to tell me that you don’t have any anger, any hatred or bitterness toward him?” Rudy smiled. “I don’t have any at all.” That reporter stared at him in disbelief. He finally asked, “Rudy, tell me, how’d you do it? How could you possibly forgive that man who hurt you so badly?” Rudy replied, “I knew if I wanted to move on with my life, I had to let it go.
I didn’t do it for him. I did it for me. I did it so I could be free.” That’s good advice. You need to forgive so you can be free. Forgive so you can be happy. Forgive so you can get out of that bondage. We have to remember, when we forgive we’re not doing it just for the other person, we’re doing it for our own good. When we hold on to unforgiveness and we live with grudges in our hearts, all we’re doing is building walls of separation. We think we’re protecting ourselves, but we’re not. We are simply shutting other people out of our lives. We become isolated, alone, warped and imprisoned by our own bitterness. Those walls aren’t merely keeping people out; those walls are keeping you penned in. Do you realize that those walls will also prevent God’s blessings from pouring into your life? Those walls can stop up the flow of God’s favor. The walls of unforgiveness will keep your prayers from being answered. They’ll keep your dreams from coming to pass. You must tear down the walls. You must forgive the people who hurt you so you can get out of prison. You’ll never be free until you do.
Let go of those wrongs they’ve done to you. Get that bitterness out of your life. That’s the only way you re going to truly be free. You will be amazed at what can happen in your life when you release all that poison. When I was growing up, we had a former Methodist minister in our church. His hands were so crippled with arthritis, he could hardly use them. They looked as though they had shriveled up and were deformed. He couldn’t open a car door. He couldn’t shake hands or anything like that. For as long as I’d known him, his hands had been that way. But one day, he went to my dad and showed him his hands—they were perfectly normal! He could move them like any of us, almost as though he had received a new set of hands. My dad was surprised, but so happy for him. He said, “Man, what in the world happened to you?” “Well, it’s an interesting story,” the former minister said. “Several months ago, you were talking about unforgiveness. You were speaking on how it keeps God’s power from operating in our lives, and how it keeps our prayers from being answered. As I listened,
I began to ask God to show me if I had any areas of unforgiveness and resentment in my life. And God began to deal with me. He brought to light several situations that had happened to me down through the years in which people had done me great wrong. I didn’t even know it, but I still had anger and resentment in my heart toward those people. That’s the odd part; I didn’t realize I was carrying it around. But as soon as I saw it, I made a decision to forgive them and totally let it go. And then the most amazing thing began to happen. One by one, my fingers started straightening out. One week went by and this finger would get healed. The next week this finger got healed. The next week this finger. As I continued to search my heart and eliminate all that bitterness and resentment, God brought complete healing back to me, and now look at my hands. I’m perfectly normal!” You, too, will be amazed at the great things that will start happening in your life when you rid yourself of bitterness and resentment. Who knows? Perhaps, like that Methodist minister, you may experience genuine physical and emotional healing as you search your heart and are willing to forgive. You may see God’s favor in a fresh, new way. You may see your prayers answered more quickly as you let go of the past and get rid of all that poison you now harbor. When my mother discovered that she was sick with cancer in 1981, one of the first things she did was to make sure she didn’t have any unforgiveness in her heart. She sat down and wrote letters to her friends and family, asking us to forgive her if she had ever done any wrong toward us. She wanted to make sure that her heart was pure. She wanted to make sure that nothing she was doing or had done would interfere with God’s healing power flowing into her. You may be at a crossroads in your life. You may have issues to deal with; people you need to forgive. You can go one of two ways. You can ignore what you now know to be true and keep burying that bitterness in your life, pushing it deeper and allowing it to poison and contaminate you and those around you. Or, you can make a much better choice by getting it out in the open and asking God to help you to totally forgive and let it all go. “But Joel,” I hear you saying. “You don’t know what they did to me. No, I don’t. But you must turn the issue over to God. He will make it up to you. God will make the wrongs right. He’ll bring justice into your life. Don’t be hardheaded and stubborn and miss out on God’s best. Be willing to change. I heard an old story about the captain of a ship that was sailing on a dark, pitch-black night. The captain suddenly noticed a bright light directly in front of him, and he knew that his ship was on a collision course with the light. He rushed to the radio and sent an urgent message, demanding that the vessel change its course ten degrees east. A few seconds later, he received a message in return.
The message said, “Cannot do it. Change your course ten degrees west.” The captain got angry. He sent another cryptic message, “I’m a navy captain. I demand you change your course. He received a message back a few seconds later. It said, “I’m a seaman second class. Cannot do it. Change your course. The captain was now furious. He sent one final message. It said, “I’m a battleship, and I’m not changing my course!” He got a curt message in return. It said, “I’m a lighthouse. It’s your choice, sir.” Many times, we are like that navy captain; we can be hardheaded and stubborn. We can think of all the reasons why we’re not going to change: They hurt me too badly. They did too much wrong to me. I’m not going to forgive. This book is your personal lighthouse, beaming truth into your life, saying you must change your course. Forgiveness is a choice, but it is not an option. Jesus put it this way: “If you don’t forgive other people, then your Father in heaven is not going to forgive you.” When you hold on to unforgiveness, you are headed for trouble.
You are on a destructive path. And God is saying to change your course. If you want to be happy, if you want to be free, get that junk out of your life. Quit holding on to it; let it go. Don’t let the root of bitterness continue to poison your life. Search your heart. When God brings issues to light, be quick to deal with them. Keep your stream pure. Friend, if you’ll do your part and keep the poison out of your life, you’ll see God’s favor and blessings in a new way Do you want God to bring justice in your life? How would you like for God to restore everything that has been stolen from you? Come on; I’ll show you how that can happen.