Hebrews 12:14-17, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:  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; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.  For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected:  for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Many years ago, I heard the story of a town in Wales where in 1866 they began to pile up coal coming from mines.  This black powder literally became a mountain.  For 100 years, they did this.  In October 1966, at this town of Aberfan, Glamorgan, South Wales, it had rained for several weeks.  Around noon, that mountain of coal started to move.  The way I understand it, over two million tons of coal and mud fell on the town.  Right below this mountain of coal was an elementary school.  Twenty-eight adults and 116 children were killed that day.

Folks, do you know that many Christians today are in just as much trouble and danger as the elementary school?  The reason is they have allowed a mountain of bitterness in their life.  You know people and so do I, who are not serving God today because they are bitter.  They are miserable in their life.

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. 

Did you notice thereby many be defiled?  Bitterness in your life will affect others around you.  It will infect them from your life and testimony.  A bitter husband or wife affects their children or spouse, and it can even go further than that to other family members and friends.  Do you know what bitterness is?  It is nothing more than allowing your flesh to control your life.  Folks, have you ever noticed that life is not fair?  Have you ever noticed that people can be extremely cruel?  Several years ago, I heard about a church Pastor who had had a heart attack because of the cruelty of some folks within his church.  While he was fighting for his life in the hospital, some of the church members got together and sought to vote him out of the church.  The underlying problem of that group was bitterness, and it defiled many.

Many people are bitter today because they have been hurt; something did not go like they wanted it to.  They were hurt at church, a job did not go like they wanted it to, their marriage is failing, they do not have the home they want or the circumstances they want or they are mad at others.  Folks, bitterness is a serious issue, and it can spring up quickly.  Let me give you three things about bitterness:

  1. Bitterness is designed by Satan to destroy your life for God. 

James 3:14-16, But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

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.

Did you notice the word diligently?  Folks, it is important that you guard your life in this matter.  It is a diligent matter for each of us.  Notice the words, springing up many are defiled.   Many Christians are bitter toward others.

Ephesians 4:29 and 31, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  Let all bitterness, and wrath be put away from you.

I want you to notice what the Bible says, Colossians 3:18-19, Wivessubmit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. 

There are men and women today who are bitter toward one another.  Men, if I am not the husband, father, and leader I need to be, is it because I am bitter against my wife?  She is not meeting my expectations?  Just remember that the devil can use this bitterness to destroy your life.  There are many wives who are bitter toward their husbands as well.  Did you notice the word submit?  One of the weapons against bitterness is submission, Ephesians 5:21.  Many of the problems in the home today are due to people being bitter with each other and not being willing to submit to one another.

  1. Do you know that many Christians are bitter today because they have an authority problem?  They cannot or will not submit to authority.

Hebrews 13:7, 17, Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God:  whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.  Obey them which have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:  for they watch for your souls, as they must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Several years ago, we had an older couple come and visit our church.  Their children were grown and out of the house.  They had been members of several different independent Baptist churches down through the years. They always found something wrong with the pastor or someone in the church.  I found they were very bitter people.  Their children were a disaster and their grandchildren were a disaster.  They talked considerably about wanting to have their children’s lives change.  Of course, they asked us to pray about it.  This is a family where the father worked many times on the Lord’s Day down through the years as the children were growing up.  If family members came to visit, they would stay home with them.  On certain holidays, they would stay home from the church services and fix dinner for their family.  If there was a family reunion, they were not in church.  Many Sundays they just did not find their way to church.  If you spoke with them about it, they were faithful in their own mind.

1 Corinthians 4:2, Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

There were other things that were done to dishonor the Lord.  As the children grew up, the parents taught them to undermine the authority of the pastors they sat under, and they are all extremely angry and bitter even with each other.  Of course, they are angry with different pastors and churches they sat under.  It is all the pastor’s and churches’ fault.  This family is so angry and bitter that they manufacture things to be angry and bitter about!  Many are defiled because of their bitterness and their lives are a disaster, with drugs, immorality, and ungodly attitudes.  Of course, they have married unsaved mates, and it is questionable about those in the family who have made professions of faith.  The father of this family died an agonizing death, and, for several months at the end of his life, was only able to look out the window of his home and think about the disappointments of his family.  What a sad and miserable existence.

Many Christians fail to realize that authority is placed in their life by God,

Romans 13:1-5, Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  (2)  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  (3)  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  (4)  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  (5)  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

The attitude they have is I do not care; no one is going to tell me what I should do. If that is the attitude a Christian has, they will die an embittered, ugly, failure spiritually. They do not understand that they are letting an authority figure create bitterness in their life because of a lack of submission.  Many Christians say and do many cruel and ugly things because they are spiritually unfaithful in their life and many are destroyed because of it.

Many times people will hear their pastor speak on a certain subject and the Holy Spirit convicts their heart of the need of their life.  However, they refuse to submit to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and then bitterness wells up in their life because of their lack of submission.  The authority figure, many times the pastor, takes the brunt of that punishment.  Who does he think he is by preaching on that?  Of course at that point, their bitterness causes them to look for what they believe are things they do not like about the church, pastor, or people at the church.  Folks, it is a serious sin that God warns and commands against. Remember submission is one of the keys to not having bitterness in your life.

  1. Repentance and prayer are the keys to fixing bitterness.This is something that you must realize is in your life because it will literally eat you up.  When you realize it is sin, you need to repent, turn from it and in prayer ask God to cleanse your heart from all bitterness.  You need to submit your will to God’s will.  What about the person who is bitter against you?  I heard a story one time about a guy who would wrestle bears.  The wrestling would go on for hours.  Folks, you might be able to wrestle with a grizzly bear, and you might eventually win.  Have you ever thought about the fight is just not worth the cost?

In prayer, turn the bitter person over to God, and let God work in their life.  God will do a much better job of it than you will.  Fighting with bitter people can and will make you bitter.

Romans 16:21-25, Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.  (22)  I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.  (23)  Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.  (24)  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.  (25)  Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

James 4:6-12, But he giveth more grace.  Wherefore, he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.  Submit yourselves therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye double-minded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaveniness.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  Speak not evil one of another, brethren.  He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.  There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy:  Who art thou that judgest another?

Folks, bitterness will eat you up.  Realize that you cannot change people:  only God can do that.  If you notice in James 4:6-12, the failure to submit to God, will result in evil speaking and incorrect judgment of others all because of bitterness which comes from a failure to submit to God.  You fight bitter people in your own power, you will be the loser.  Make sure no root of bitterness is springing up in your life.  If it does happen to get into your life, do not let it stay.  If it gets root in your heart, your life will be destroyed and you will be a source of destruction in the lives of others.  It will destroy your children, and it can be a point to drive others away for the gospel.

I can hear someone now say, but Pastor Coomer, you do not know what they have done to me.  I know how you feel.  However, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting.  In essence, it does not mean you put yourself in harm’s way.  When you forgive another, you are promising to do four things about their wrong doing:

  1. I shall not use their wrong doing against them in the future.
  2. I shall not talk to others about them and their wrong doing.
  3. I shall not dwell on them myself.  (Do not let their wrong doing control your life).
  4. I shall turn them over to God.

May the Lord help each of us to identify and dig out the root of bitterness.   As you finish reading this, maybe you have had thoughts about certain situations and people while reading it. Why not ask God right now if there is any bitterness in your life? Ask God to show it to you.  Then ask Him for forgiveness in the matter and whatever the situation is just turn it over to God.  In essence, Lord, I am turning this situation, or person, over to you.  Bitterness is a strong thing, and you may have to turn them over more than once.  As you turn them over to God, and continue to do so, the devil will eventually realize that is an area that he cannot work on in your life, and God will take care of that person, or situation, in His time.  Also, look in God’s word to find out what it says about bitterness and apply Ephesians 4:22-24 in your life.

Ephesians 4:22-24,  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  (23)  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  (24)  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

I have always enjoyed the hymn, Take Your Burdens to the Lord and Leave Them There.  May God help us to do so.