Are you a bitter person? Most would readily say that no, they are not a bitter person. Do you harbor bitterness towards anyone? Again, most would say that they do not. But have you completely forgiven those that have wronged you, holding no ill feelings towards them? This is a harder question, and it is a revealing question. It’s easy to say we have forgiven, but harder to get rid of ill feelings. These negative emotions we associate with other people reveal that we have no truly forgiven the person. And do you know what that is? At the very least, it’s a root of bitterness, which is a dangerous thing.
Hebrews 12:15 says, “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.” It doesn’t warn against full blown bitterness, where someone walks around with a chip on their shoulder, mean mugging everyone as they go. It warns against the poisonous root of it. Just the kindling ambers that could grow into a raging inferno. This is deep down in the heart, where it may not yet be visible to anyone else. But it gets there. In my own life, I have seen it get there. And then it starts seeping out of your mouth, and others hear, and now your bitterness is no longer a personal issue. It is corrupting anyone who has the misfortune of hearing you speak.
Who do you need to forgive fully? I understand that someone may have seriously hurt or offended you. I have been seriously hurt and offended, too. But you know what? Remaining unforgiving and holding onto bitterness doesn’t hurt them. It is just a way for you to allow them to continue hurting you, well after they have done anything.