Christian Living

5 Reasons Why the Root of Bitterness Grows

January 31, 2014

Gnarled Tree Roots

Bitterness is a plague to the soul.  John Courson has rightly said of the subject, “Bitterness is like taking a bottle of poison, swallowing it, and waiting for the other person to die.”  Bitterness may take root in just a moment’s time, but its fruit remains for years if left unattended.  It grows and grows eventually taking over the garden of the soul.  What are some root causes of bitterness, and more importantly, how do we cut it out of our lives?



All of us have been wronged at some point in our lives by a relative, co-worker, companion, or friend.  If we fail to extend forgiveness to those who have done us wrong we work from the premise that we are better than Christ.  Consider Christ at Calvary.  Having been beaten and nailed to a cross He cried out, “Father, forgive them.”  Forgiveness is easier to extend when you consider the way it is received: by the grace of God.


Resentment and Jealousy

Bitterness may fester when you see someone else excelling or being promoted.  Perhaps you deserved the raise, or maybe you rightly earned that position.  Such feelings are often rooted in pride and selfishness.  Ask the Lord to take those feelings away and be genuinely happy when God blesses someone else. If that person truly did not deserve the recognition or honor, they generally have a hard time fulfilling the advancement.


Lack of Communication

Oftentimes bitterness forms simply because two parties have failed to properly communicate with one another.  Silence is a fertilizer to the root of bitterness.  Make the move, reach out to that person and couple some words with those emotions. The line of forgiveness is wired as a two-way receiver.


Unresolved Issues

We all want finality.  We like to close the proverbial door on problems and issues.  When those doors fail to be shut, we tend to build self-made walls. Brick by brick, unresolved issues shut us off from those we love the most.  Gordon MacDonald said, “Unresolved feelings do not flutter away in the wind.  They deposit themselves in the strata of our souls and lie waiting to escape.” Before we realize it, unresolved issues pile up so high that we fail to see anything else.



I know we do not like to admit it, but it is a sin to allow bitterness to linger.  Jesus Himself said to leave the offering upon the altar, get things right with others, and then come back to worship.  If we want forgiveness with the Lord, we will need it from others.  The most important thing to remember about bitterness is that it ultimately stagnates our relationship with God.  Ask the Lord if the root of bitterness exists anywhere in your life.  If it does, pluck it up before it chokes away all of your joy.  As someone has anonymously said, “Bitterness hurts more the vessel in which it is stored, more than the vessel on which its poured.”


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