I looked in the mirror, and found myself to be bitter, angry and festering over circumstances beyond my control; disappointments, injustices, unemployment, hurtful words and insinuations from unexpected persons, homesickness, and isolation, to name a few.
It’s easy for me to point the finger when I recognize bitterness in someone else. Verses like Proverbs 14:10 (Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.), and Amos 5:7 (There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground.) are easy to spot and condemn when fault lies with “them”. But what about me? Now that I look in the mirror, I notice a beam protruding from my own eye, and four fingers pointing back.
I had forgotten that Ephesians 4:30-32 (And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.) doesn’t just apply to that ugly person that hurt me, but illuminates my very own darkened heart. I see my own anger and bitterness, and the effect it has not only on me and those around me, but on the heart of God himself, the One who loved me, and bought me, and made me new. How His Spirit must grieve for the new stains of sin on His workmanship.
I love that when we are instructed to rid ourselves of something, we are not left empty. There is further instruction on replacing that which had defiled with something that heals. We’ve gotten rid of bitterness, rage, anger, etc., and in its place, we fill it with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Reminds me of the “put off, put on” dynamic. Putting off the the works of the flesh and replacing them with the works and fruits of the Spirit. I believe this is the first step in following the command of Hebrews 12:14-15 (Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.)
If we are constantly pulling those bitter weeds that try to take root in our heart, and planting seeds of compassion, kindness and forgiveness, we will be producing fruits of the Spirit instead of the bitter fruit of the flesh, we will be in a habit of becoming holy, and we will see the Lord in our daily lives, in the lives of others, and ultimately in eternity.