Today I want to talk to you about bitterness. This is something the Lord has worked deep and hard in me on. Before I got saved I was one of the most bitter people I've ever known, but as I got closer to the Lord He began to point out my bitterness and He rolled up His sleeves and got His hands dirty helping me clean up my garden of bitterness. (Who is glad God isn't scared of our mess and instead He walks right in the middle of it?? I know I am!) During this season the Lord lead me to John 13.
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him." John 13:1-5
Every time I read this three things immediately stand out to me.
- Jesus loved them to the end.
- The devil had already put it in the heart of Judas to betray Jesus.
- Jesus knew. Of course He knew, He is fully God and fully man, but what is most amazing is that He still chose to wash Judas' feet.
"So Jesus washed Judas' feet. What's the big deal?" Well in the time of Jesus only the lowest of servants washed the feet of house guests. So when Jesus chose to wash His disciples feet He was lowering himself, the King of kings, to the lowest of servants. But not only did He choose to humble Himself and wash the feet of His faithful disciples He also chose to wash the feet of Judas, His betrayer. Jesus knew and still chose to show Judas the fullness of His love. He chose to become the lowest of servants even for His greatest betrayer. What an example of love! Jesus could have easily skipped right over Judas, but He put aside His pride and His bitterness and instead chose to love the one who was going to hurt Him the most. Friends, this is what we are called to do. You can't have bitterness and humility at the same time and you can't have un-forgiveness and love at the same time. They contradict each other. You either have one or the other and for years I had bitterness and un-forgiveness.
You may be thinking, "But Brooke, you have no idea how badly I was wronged." You're right I don't, and I'm so incredibly sorry that you had to go through whatever it is that made you so bitter. But what I do know is Jesus knows how badly you were wronged and still calls us to love our betrayers. In John 13:14-15 He says, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you."
I also know that it is our job to guard our hearts. You see our hearts are fertile soil that produce whatever we plant in them. If you plant love that's what the garden of your heart will grow, but if you choose to plant bitterness before you know it you will have a field of bitterness where your heart once was. With me as soon as someone would wrong me I'd plant that seed of hurt into my soil of un-forgiveness and it would grow into bitterness. I don't know about you, but I want a heart of love, so when Jesus addressed my heart of bitterness I rolled up my sleeves and helped Him uproot each bitter root I'd planted and here's how.
1. Look At Your Heart
"Create in me a pure heart of Lord, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." -Psalm 51:10
Many times we don't even know we are bitter. We have shoved the pain so deep we forget it's there, but if you ask the Lord to reveal it He always will. He sees what we have grown accustomed to. This verse became an anthem for me in this season. It's still a prayer I pray often because I never want my heart to become bitter. If you ever come over to my house you will see that I have this verse posted on my info board at the exit of my apartment, so I can see it in the business of my day. I want my heart to always remain soft to the Lord.
2. Hold Your Tongue
"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled." -Hebrews 12:15
If you haven't heard of second hand offense let's have a crash course in it real quick. Second hand offense is where something happens to you and you get offened, then you go tell your bestie, and now your bestie is offended. They now have second hand offense. When you do this you are defiling those who you pour out your bitterness on and many times this is worse than your bitterness because you are defiling Jesus' bride. Also, talking about your bitterness many times deepens your bitterness because 1) you reopen your wounds and dig deeper into them, and 2) your words have power, so if you are speaking of bitterness it will fester and grow in you. My mom used to always tell me, "If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all." When dealing with bitterness this is a good rule to live by!
3.Find the Root
In the Kingdom there are good seeds and there are bad seeds. Both are sown and both reap a harvest. So you must see where this bad root was from and go uproot it. It may be from 5 months ago or 15 years ago, both are defiling your heart, but the one that has been there longer has had more time to go deeper and spread it's roots farther. These ones will be harder to uproot and will hurt more, but they will be the ones that make the largest inpact on your heart. Once you get these large roots of bitterness out you will be able to have more soil to plant good seeds. This process may seem long and painful, but this is the most rewarding part!
4. Decide to Forgive
I know this one sounds self explanatory, "Duh Brooke, isn't what this whole post is about!?" Yes, but deciding to forgive those who have wronged you and you feel don't deserve to be forgiven is hard!! I know, I've been there, but when you remember all that Jesus forgave you of it's pretty simple.
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8
Let's remember Judas in John 13, friends, that us. We have betrayed Jesus. We have turned our backs on Him. Yet He still chooses to wash our feet. He still chose to die for all our sins. When we remember what Jesus forgave us of we cannot go on in bitterness and not forgive. We must be like Him and choose to love. Those who hurt us are in need of a Savior and are human just as we are. Choose to show them the forgiveness Jesus has shown you even if they aren't deserving because you and I weren't deserving of God's forgiveness either yet He has lavished and continues to lavish it on us.
5. Continue to Walk in Forgiveness
Once you begin to forgive the devil will be up in arms. What brings strength to the body of Christ and anger to the devil is unity, so he is always scheming ways to bring division and offense and bitterness are some of his favorites to use. You see when you pull weeds in any garden even when they are all gone and you've uprooted them all, if you leave that plot of land alone for a few months it will inevitably be overgrown with weeds when you return. It is the same with your heart. You can't just let the Lord uproot your bitterness and then wash your hands and never go back to your garden. You must daily tend to it. You must daily check your heart, check your mouth, and check for roots. This process comes full circle. This isn't a one time overhaul it is a daily process. You much choose to walk in forgiveness, daily. So let's start today!