Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weeds of the Heart

I have a confession.  I am very prone to bitterness.

God has been at work in my life to dig it out.

It's painful.  It's humbling.  It's taken a lot more work than I'd like to admit.

I know there have been days where I've examined my soul and it has looked like a barren wasteland.  A vast emptiness of nothing but dug up bitterness.  I wondered if it would always look like that.

Regardless, it felt good to have those roots of bitterness removed.  I discovered that there was joy in a simple, raw faith... even when I didn't feel there was much fruit to show for it.  It felt good to have the soil unclogged.

I'm not saying there aren't any seeds or roots remaining to deal with still.  Like I said, I'm prone.  This will likely be a lifelong work!

I'm enjoying the joy and the sweetness of life in a way that I simply couldn't before.

This morning, the sermon we heard gave some structure and clear thoughts to some of the things I've experienced.  I wanted to share it with you.  {Updated with audio link.}

"Call Me Bitter"
from Ronnie Norman's Graced Message series

Bitterness is a poison
  • Bitterness = longstanding resentment
  • Bitterness occurs when we perceive that God or other people have let us down
  • Bitterness is a heart infection with deep roots.
  • Bitterness can infect anyone and it's easy to go there.
  • The great lie of bitterness is that someone else made you bitter.
    • The truth is that I'm responsible for my own bitterness.
    • "If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted." ~Amy Carmichael
      So, if you have two cups, one full of sweet water and one full of bitter putrid water.  When each is bumped and spill its contents, does the bump cause the water to be sweet or bitter or does it simply allow what is inside to spill out?
Tell-tale signs of Bitterness
  • You are passive-agressive and deal with perceived hurts indirectly.
    • Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body ~Ephesians 4:25  (Passive-aggressive people do not deal directly with the hurt, they beat around the bush.)
  • You are obsessed by a perceived injustice and you want revenge.
    • “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. ~Ephesians 4:26,27
  • You recruit allies to take up your offense.
    • Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ~Ephesians 4:29
What's the antidote to the poison of bitterness?
  • Know that bitterness sabotages the way of the Spirit in your life.
    • And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. ~Ephesians 4:30  (When we're stuck on sour, the Holy Spirit can't use us for good the way He wants to be able to because we're not allowing it.)
  • Own your bitterness and take aggressive action.
    • Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. ~Ephesians 4:31 (Bitterness is an on-ramp to all of these.)
  • Send the shovel of grace deeper than the roots of bitterness.
    • Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  ~Ephesians 4:32
“To do him a hurt was to beget a kindness from him. His heart was made of such fine soil that if you planted in it the seeds of hate they blossomed love.”  ~Alfred Lord Tennyson on Archbishop Cranmer
Wouldn't it be awesome to be characterized by such love?

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