Bitterness: The Heart’s Poison

by Jennifer Lane

 “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground.”  Hosea 10:12 NIV

A trip to the jungles of Peru a few years ago broadened my perspective of God’s creation in unexpected ways. Leaving civilization behind, I entered into the majestic unknown of the jungle and all its beauty and power. The beauty all around me was not just something for the eye to behold, it was an experience that engaged all five of my senses simultaneously. Gazing upon the exotic birds, animals, and vegetation, I was struck anew as I thought about God as the Creator: how He took delight and care in designing every detail of the flora and fauna. How much more must He have delighted in creating me and you!

I also gained new awareness of God’s power as Creator. The towering trees, vast foliage, and cacophony of creature sounds quickly engulfed me, making it very clear who was in charge here (and it wasn’t me). I was completely reliant on my guide to discern for me where it was safe to step, which deadly creatures to avoid, and which plants were poisonous.

I learned quickly that I could not spot potential dangers just based on appearance. Many of the “dangerous” species were beautiful to behold. One such creature is the poison dart frog. Though only 2 inches in size, this brightly adorned frog is an eye-catching beauty, yet some of these frogs carry enough deadly poison to kill ten men.

It struck me that this was also true for mankind. External beauty is no reflection of what lies within. I’m sure we can all think of someone in our lives whose beauty may be striking but their words are like poisonous venom. This is a reflection of our inner selves. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV).

Allowing bitterness to grow in our hearts will transform us from the inside out.

How do we prevent bitterness from growing?

Take an inventory. “Get rid of all bitterness…be kind and compassionate…forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV). Ask God to reveal any bitterness that may exist in your heart. Ask for His forgiveness and help to root out what is eating away at your soul.

Take preventative measures. “See to it … that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV). Once bitterness has been removed, see to it that it does not take root again. That may involve putting safeguards in place. Just like we put a fence around our garden to keep unwanted predators out, what things can you put in place to guard your heart from the enemy?

Sow new seeds.  Our lives must be “rooted and built up in Him” (Colossians 2:6-7). Once sinful roots have been removed and a sturdy fence is in place, it’s time to sow seeds of righteousness. Ask God to help you replace that bitterness with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. These new seeds help ensure that our root structure is firmly established and built up in the things of God, not the things of this world.

Then when the heat of the next trial comes, your leaves will always be green (Jeremiah 17:8 NIV), because your roots run deep into the streams of life.

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Bitterness: The Heart’s Poison – insight from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance, whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer, her husband, and three children live in Michigan.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues. It is an inductive Bible study that teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: How has bitterness affected you in the past?