Monday, 14 April 2014

Roots {don't get the bitter ones}

 I have been out in the garden today, again, and the Lord has, once again, been using it as a time to speak to my heart.  Today, I want to share with you about something that has come to mind several times whilst working in the garden.

Today, as before, and as will be again, I have been dealing with weeds.  It was my huge task to deal with a positively HUGE patch of nettles and dandelions. Well, I say HUGE, it was about 6 feet by 4 feet, perhaps? It FELT huge, and my back is telling me it was ENORMOUS. I digress. Dandelions and nettles have something in common. Obviously, one has a relatively pretty, yellow flower, frequently gifted to mothers by children (or in Simeon's case today, used as a mobile phone??...) and the other has nasty, horrid prickly stems and leaves, which I am still feeling the effects of. The commonality is this -  HORRENDOUS roots.  One, the dandelion, has a deep, deep, thick root, that you have to dig out, carefully and completely.  The nettles have a maze-like system of strong, wandering roots, that seem to spread out forever under the soil.  It's a positive network of roots, strongly making its way into the ground. The nettle plants shoot up from the root system, all over the place.  Both of them need diligent attention to getting the root out, or it will spring up again.

It made me think about the verses in Hebrews.

"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"
Hebrews 12:14-16 

Do you see that there?  

Roots of bitterness.

It's so easy in life, to allow roots of bitterness to form. They don't spring up, they burrow down.  They work their way, insidiously, into our hearts, until our spirit and heart is all twisted up, and infiltrated, by the bitterness. 

It can happen in our marriages.  Something that bothers us, or we have a disagreement about, or that we are struggling with, starts to become that root of bitterness.  We allow it to dig down, and to eat away at us, until we feel bitterness about it. It puts down its tap root like the dandelion, or spreads into our whole life, like the nettle. If we don't sort out these bitter thoughts quickly, it can ruin our marriage.

It can happen in so many other ways.  

It could be an unfulfilled "ambition", regrets about the way we have done things as a parent, friends who have let us down, words spoken by others, issues that have been misunderstood, children taking up our time,  a house move, a husband needing to change jobs, loneliness, discontent.  All these things, and so many, many more, can cause a root of bitterness to grow deep, deep into our hearts.

How do we combat these thoughts and bitterness from eating away at us - from harming us?

Like the weeds in my garden, we need to "pull out" these bitter thoughts, before they can put down roots at all.  We need to get rid of them quickly.

How do we do that, though?

Like my weeds needed digging up with some proper tools, a similar "attack" is needed with bitterness in our lives.

The verses above give us a 2-pronged attack against these roots.

"peace with all men"

Invariably, thoughts of bitterness are the polar opposite of peaceful thoughts. Bitterness tends to rile us and  make us feel discontent - ill at ease. It makes our minds and our hearts turbulent - torn and tossed about, as we mull over what's bothering us.  If we call out to the Lord, and ask Him to give us peace - if we keep Him in our hearts and minds, and cast out all wrong emotions - then the bitterness will be sweetened.  Peace and unrest simply cannot exist in the same space. If we have peace in our hearts, bitterness cannot be there too.  If we first have God's peace, then we will have that "peace with all men". We are more inclined towards a peaceableness, if we have peace within us, first of all.


Having holiness - separateness from sinfulness - will guide us away from bitterness.  Bitterness in our hearts is plain ol' sinfulness.  If we strive after that which is holy - being like the Lord - then the bitterness will be sweetened.  

The holiness that we need to look for, is summed up in Ephesians.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 
 And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:31-32

We often quote that second verse to our children, do we not?  It equally applies to our own lives!

We need to put that bitterness away - the anger, the arguing, the using nasty words, which can all stem from the bitterness, if we let it take root.

Instead, we have to be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving.

Oh, how hard those things can be, if we are starting off with even a hint of bitterness.  We need to push it out with these purer and more sanctified behaviour.

Demonstrating kindness, instead of unkind thoughts.

Having a tender heart, instead of a prickly and hard heart.

Forgiving, instead of holding wrongs against another.

I pray that the Lord would grant me grace and strength, not to allow bitterness to dig its way into my heart and life.

Off to do some "weeding" now...

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