Hebrews 12:15 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;
This word “bitter root” appears only once in the Bible but it covers a huge territory of disaffected, unhappy and dangerous believers. You do not find bitterness in the young. They may be stupid, untaught, rash or deceived but not bitter. It takes some time in life for that to appear and there are always causes. But one thing is clear.
Bitterness: A challenge to self-will
Children who do not get their own way are quickly disciplined by conscientious parents. If not they turn into arrogant “enfants terribles.” Adults whose self-will is challenged have a choice – either knuckle under to the will of God or deteriorate spiritually into a state of rebellion against life and those who cross their will. They can’t get back at God but they can make humans suffer.
Christians have about one year of a honeymoon with Jesus, or it may, as in my case go on for seven full years. But then come the tests. How will you react. God does not tempt us to do evil, but He does test.
The test is not for His benefit; He knows what you are made of, but you don’t. You need to find out what you are made of. Do you honestly take seriously the rules of holiness? Will you fold like a cheap lawn chair the minute you must make a moral decision?
Back when I was 22 or so, we needed furniture. I married a Southern gentleman but I did not know that Southern men thought all Yankee women were morally loose. So when I went out furniture shopping I didn’t realize the store owner expected me to test the bedroom furniture with him, personally. I was not even a little amused. I told him a quick goodbye, I told my husband and vowed never to buy furniture from that lecherous old man. My mother had a similar experience when she was in her 60s so these rumors die hard.
That is a valid test. God wanted me to know I was faithful when it would have been easy to get away with it. But what about the man who does not pass the test. His wife walks out on him, he is caught in some double dealing or worse yet, he is caught in a trap being scammed by others. He can say, God, you promised me a good wife – it is YOUR FAULT that she left. Or the businessman who is unwittingly drawn into a bad deal. He tells God, It is YOUR FAULT that I was deceived.
And in comes the “bitter root.”
And that is how you recognize it. These bitter people, more men than women but women too, all blame God for what happened to them. It may be huge losses on the stock market, it may be a house foreclosure, an unfaithful business partner or wife, a rape. And the man or woman says to God, “The Bible says, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Where were you when I was raped. It is your fault God.”
It is your fault God
This past week I spent four days dealing with a group of people who have spent the last two decades on revenge against people they disagree with. This entire group is a profile in bitterness. One man killed his son – it was an accident, everyone knew that and the town forgave him, prayed for him, yearned for him to be free. But in his heart he has not forgiven himself and he hasn’t forgiven God. He seeks revenge against anyone, particularly those who appear to have authority. Like God, people who have authority are self-confident and are publicly righteous. They are confident in themselves. They make a good substitute for God as a victim of slander or whatever. He takes many people to court because he inherited some money. He does not know the forgiveness of God for himself, so he cannot offer it to anyone else.
Another fellow lost his job and his wife at the same time. He found this bitter group and joined. Another man did not finish high school and he is jealous and angry at educated people. This group is heavily involved with politics. People who can’t get their way first join churches where they try to take over. After a while they leave because the members can’t put up with them. Then they head for politics. This past week they had invented a complex scam against a candidate, a woman of course, and it was after a good bit of investigation, finally exposed. With money and time on your hands you can cause a lot of trouble. Which explains the last part of the verse.
A political campaign was defiled. But more importantly the people who planned, executed and funded this scam were themselves defiled. God condemns liars. In Revelation we are told that the lake of fire is the final destination “for all liars.” Not just a few – but all.
Genesis 12:3 says those who curse God’s people will be cursed. All four women and the two men these the Bitter Root Company accused and even filed court charges against, are active Christians, not just one day a week Christians, but proactive. But you do not need to be a perfect person to have God defend you against accusation. You only need to be one of the “family.” And families stick together. If you have been charged or wronged by someone and you are a member of God’s family, you have a scripture to use to ask for redress of grievances.
God also says He hates the “accuser of the brethern.” That would include a large number of national television outlets, newspapers and magazines, Recently the McClatchy media group of newspapers went belly-up. I immediately thought, well, may God is dealing with the public media who profit by lying. The United States Supreme Court doesn’t slap their hands anymore so maybe they will change in the future. Slander and libel are not just a problem, they are sins and need to be treated that way.
It all started in the garden. When Adam was caught with his hand on the fruit, he said, Genesis 3:12
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
So the first words spoken after sin is revealed are these – blame first the woman and then blame God.
I rest my case.
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