Deep Roots

The other day our family began a weeding project for the front yard of our house. None of us like to weed. I mean, does anyone!? I still have flashbacks to when I was a kid weeding the sidewalk that ran alongside our backyard on our Altgeld street house in the summer. It was not fun. And guess what… It still isn’t fun. So, after one of our kids finished weeding in the side yard up against the house, we took a look to see what the ground looked like without weeds. It looked good as we scanned along the ground. As we were scanning, however, we noticed a vine that had started to grow up the side of our house. It was crazy. This vine had crawled up the house in and around the siding so high that it had grown to nearly seven feet tall. To my amazement, as I pulled it out of the siding of our house it just kept going. I’m glad Jami had seen this vine growing. Had she not, it would have ruined the siding on our home. I got all of the vine out of the siding and reached the ground at which point I pulled it out at the roots. If I hadn’t gotten to the root of the vine, it would have grown back and began its destructive process up our home all over again.

Roots are important. They are the lifeblood to the growth of the “thing” that depends upon its life. The Bible talks about a specific root. Check this out:

“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” – Hebrews 12:15

You see, most of the time bitterness isn’t easily seen by the one in whom the root of bitterness is growing. But as it grows, it invades every area of the person’s life. This is tough because when bitterness grows like this, it doesn’t only affect the one who is bitter, it affects and influences those around that person.

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there right now. It’s an easy pattern to fall into and a hard one to crawl out of. Maybe you’ve been hurt by those who were in your life to care for you. Maybe you put your trust in someone and they repaid you by betrayal. Maybe the people you thought were friends never reached out to you in your time of need. Maybe someone’s words cut so deep they attacked your identity. Here’s what I know, because I’ve experienced all of these things, the root of bitterness that can grow inside of us has nothing to do with “them” but everything in “us.” And God is saying to those of us who need to get rid of bitterness’ roots…

Let Me replace your root system.

God wants to replace your root system because He knows what the destructiveness of the root system of bitterness can do. Because here’s the thing, bitterness never rolls out alone. It’s always got an entourage… A bunch of hype men. Check out bitterness’ hype men…

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. – Ephesians 4:31

These are they hype men for bitterness… Rage. Anger. Harsh words. Slander. I’ve noticed these things creep into my life for a time. But here’s the thing, instead of the hype man who builds the person and the crowd up, these hype men tear people down. You see, if the root of bitterness isn’t dug up, destruction is sure to follow. So how can you tell if bitterness is creeping up in your life? One, you need to check your words. Or as I have told my kids over and over again, “You need to check your mouth.” I did this when they had ketchup on it or if they were being unkind with their words. Both aren’t a good look.

You see, it’s often true that what comes out of our mouths is actually connected to our hearts.

Check this out:

But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. – Matthew 15:18

Maybe it’s that we find ourselves critical or rude. Maybe it’s that we find ourselves talking poorly about someone (even though their actions might “justify” the descriptive words). Maybe, just maybe, the words that are coming out of our mouths are rooted deeply within our heart. Or secondly, are my branches of bitterness spreading to others? You see, when we walked outside and saw the vine-weed crawling up our home, it was also spreading on the ground to the point we couldn’t see the flowers that were trying to sprout up. Not only was the vine covering the flowers, had it been left unchecked, it would have sucked the life out of the flowers. The same is true for bitterness. It spreads. The last part of Hebrews 12:15 tells us so… “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” This bitterness has the potential to spread. Maybe your friends have become bitter. Maybe your kids have become bitter. Do your friends sit around to gripe and gossip? Maybe it’s spread to your spouse. Bitterness spreads.

But there’s hope if you find yourself here today. As long as you’re breathing there’s always hope. But unlike today’s culture, it isn’t found in self-help books or cute quotes. You can’t get rid of the root of bitterness on your own efforts. And that’s really good news. In a land far away and at a time that was long ago, God made a covenant with His people.

I am making this covenant with you so that no one among you—no man, woman, clan, or tribe—will turn away from the Lord our God to worship these gods of other nations, and so that no root among you bears bitter and poisonous fruit. – Deuteronomy 29:18

And God today, has brought a new covenant with us through His Son Jesus. A covenant is a fancy word that simply means “contract.” You see, it’s only through Jesus that we can rid all bitterness in our life. When we confess our sin to God, declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, then we will be saved. We are made new from the inside out.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

As we trust in Jesus, bitterness no longer has to rule in our life because God has given us a new root system. So where are you today? What is your root system like? Is bitterness growing? If so, there’s hope through Jesus. Confess what you need to today and pray that God gives and cultivates His root system in your life.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:22-23