TOPIC:“The Sin Which Will Destroy You” (Bitterness)
by Rev. Dr. Reg Dunlap
“Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and by it many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15)
I want to speak today on something that I believe is a real problem with far too many of us who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. It is the problem of bitterness.
Some time ago I received an urgent telephone call from a young Christian married couple who were having a real problem with the actions and attitudes of his mother. The wife confessed to me that it seemed she could never please her mother-in-law no matter how hard she tried. Being a strong personality herself it seemed that each time they met it ended up in confrontation between the three of them. The relationship deteriorated to such an extent that the husband said to me: “I don't want my child being brought up under such conditions.”
He continued: “If this situation continues she won't ever see her granddaughter again.” And then in an outburst of almost uncontrollable anger he said, “She has made our lives so miserable that there are times when I wish she was dead.” There you have a situation where bitterness had festered to such an extent and so contaminated the inner feelings of that husband as to cause him to wish for his mother's death.
I am going to leave this couple for a short time only to return to them at the end of this message. Let us now come to our text and the surrounding verses to behold what the writer of Hebrews has to tell us about this evil which if not taken care of will destroy you.
Think, to begin with, of the DESCRIPTION of bitterness. Notice again the words of the text: “Lest any root of bitterness” (v. 15). Bitterness is a destructive sin and must immediately be dealt with by every child of God. I should like to say a descriptive word of the meaning and character of bitterness.
The prohibition against bitterness is found in a several places in the New Testament. To the believers at Ephesus Paul writes: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior” (Ephesians 4:31, NLT). To the Colossians Paul writes: “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Colossians 3:19). The Apostle James declared: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil” (James . . .