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The Root of Bitterness (Hebrews 12:14-15)

Sermon on Sunday 19 January 2020 by Brother Paul

There are many things in life that trip us up, so we must strip off things that weigh us down - our sins. There is a particular weight we need to let go of - bitterness in life.

If the root of bitterness corrupts us, it is difficult for us to live in peace with one another. 

Hebrews 12:14-15 - Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 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.

If we produce bad fruit, we are considered bad trees. The root of bitterness cannot produce good fruit. If we still have the root of bitterness in us, then we cannot be a good tree. It is easy to feel bitter. If someone purposely or accidentally hurts us, through words or actions, we get bitter. We also inflict bitterness upon ourselves, when we compare ourselves with others, wondering why we do not receive more blessings than others. When we hold on to bitterness for too long, this bitterness will take root within our hearts. It will entangle us. It will become very hard to let go of and there will be undesirable consequences.

Matthew 7:17-19 - A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.

Why does having the root of bitterness lead to corruption?

1. Anger turns to hatred.

Matthew 5:21-22 - “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

2. Envy.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 - Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless - like chasing the wind.

3. Division in the church, especially in the body of Christ, making it difficult to unite as one. Then, God's blessing cannot flow into the church.

1 Corinthians 1:10 - I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 

4. The root of bitterness will cause our hearts to be hardened. Our love will become wax cold, and this is the opposite of God's character, because God is love.

Matthew 24:12-13 - Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

What do we need?

We need to be in Christ Jesus and He in us. Else, we cannot be fruitful and we cannot do anything. Jesus is the true vine (John 15:1-12). 

John 15:1 - I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 

Let Christ, His words and His love remain in us. Do not let the root of bitterness be in us. In Genesis, God's words themselves gave life, power and authority. The same words that created the heavens and the earth are the same words that give us life. We have to treasure his words.

Remain in Christ's love. Don't let the root of bitterness be a stumbling block. Obey the Lord's commandments - love one another in the same way He has loved us. By this shall all men know that we are His disciples.

How do we get rid of the root of bitterness?

Ephesians 4:31-32 - Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Put off bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, slander and evil behaviour. Renew ourselves - put on kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, following Christ's example. Do not leave any room for bitterness to come in. It is like getting rid of a bad habit. In order to get rid of it, we have to replace it with something good.

Loving one another as how Christ has loved us is the way to get rid of the root of bitterness. The way to remove bitterness is to love. The scars are always on our body - we cannot simply forget. 

Romans 12:17-21 - Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge I will pay them back," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If you enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Don't let evil overcome us. If we do this, we become like the world.

Jesus was never bitter against those who did Him wrong. Our Lord Jesus Christ, while dying on the cross, prayed for those who crucified Him. He released His forgiveness. 


Having the root of bitterness cannot produce good fruit. Let Christ, His words and His love remain in us instead. Put off all bitterness. Instead, put on kindness, gentleness and forgiveness. Don't let evil conquer us, but conquer evil by doing good.

Let us remember that the power of God's love can remove all root of bitterness. Love and forgiveness heal all wounded souls. Love unites the body of Christ.

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