I'm sure you've all heard your moms or some parental figure tell you that in order for you to solve a certain conflict, whether it be between siblings, peers, etc., you just need to "nip it in the bud." While I grew up believing that was a trustworthy saying, I am believing now with fresh perspective and spiritual eyes that God is requiring much more than just the nipping of a bud. Yes, He prunes us. But when it comes to roots of bitterness vs. roots of righteousness, I fully believe that He expects us to "rip it at the root". And this process can be as taxing and painful as it sounds if we've allowed roots of bitterness to go deep into the soil of our souls and bear its poisonous fruit by neglecting to forgive, by holding on to a small tinge of resentment, or neglecting to choose an attitude of humility and instead taking up "our rights".
Hebrews 12:15 says that we are to "see to it that ... no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled". Y'all. The fruit that bitterness bears defiles many. It effects many. It troubles many. It transcends generations to many. I'm sure if you're reading this, someone who struggles with bitterness (maybe even yourself...) has popped into your head and you've already recalled encounters with them and how their hurt spills over on to the people around them and their relationships struggle under the weight of this toxicity. It is serious business. Bitterness doesn't affect just you. So when you finally repent of that bitterness and break free from its bondage, there will be many relationships that will need to be reconciled and restored by asking for forgiveness. If you've been set free from bitterness I would LOVE to hear your testimony!
Most people who've been held captive by their bitterness, if they are Christians, also tend to confuse their spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit. They falsely believe that God has equipped them only to be a 'generous' tree or a 'patience' tree, when in all actuality, the fruit of the Spirit comes as a whole package. You don't pick and choose which fruit gets to grow on your tree. It should ALL be coming to fruition (by the grace of God and the power of the Spirit). It's a whole package deal. Have you been believing that you can only bear one kind of fruit cause God 'just made you that way?' Yes, we're human and have strengths and weaknesses. But Galatians 5:22 is comprising all that FRUIT into one basket. One package deal. With the Holy Spirit, He brings it all.Ok, I gotta be honest. That last little bit was spoken afresh to me by pastor Harkness at Harvest East Peoria a few weeks ago. And he also shared a story about a grove of orange trees. This grove was visited in the middle of a drought and most of the trees in it were looking pretty shrimpy with the exception of a few which seemed to be doing extremely well. Upon asking why there was such a vast difference between the two sets of trees, it was discovered that the trees that were in poor shape had been watered day in and day out. When the drought hit, they obviously were without water and did poorly. However with the trees that seemed to be flourishing, it was discovered that they had been raised on rations of water. Though the supply was great, their caretaker would restrict their watering so that the roots would grow deep. They would go through these periods of suffering during their growth so that they wouldn't rely solely on the water from the caretaker. Their roots were so deep that they were tapping into the ground water below and were able to prosper and produce fruit during the drought. They hadn't been pampered into developing shallow roots.
What an awesome picture of what seasons of suffering produce in believers: roots of righteousness that go deep so we can withstand periods of drought. And not just withstand, but flourish. Instead of allowing suffering to make us beat down, weak, and embittered producing no fruit, believers can allow roots of righteousness to firmly implant so that the fruit of the Spirit can thrive!
There a few quotes that I'd like to share that help put this analogy into what it looks like practically in my life, and quite possibly many of yours as well. These are the roots of righteousness that I desire to take hold in my life and be the legacy that I leave behind ... "God faithfully serves us, even when we are faithless, so staying home to serve the family is a good reminder of how our serving reflects God’s faithfulness. ... We do use our gifts with our family, and we need to be content and joyful with that. We must ask ourselves why we are seeking approval of man and not resting in the love of God. We don’t have anything to prove to God. He loves us more than we can imagine. People will give their opinions, but we are accountable before God for our actions. If we know we are doing what God is asking of us as moms, then we can disregard public opinion. When you struggle with being a homemaker, if you feel condemned or guilty instead of convicted, that is a tactic from the enemy to tempt you to sin. The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict us of our sin and instruct us in obedience. If we ignore him, we quickly start to believe lies and rationalize our sinful actions. Is it a sin to work? No, but it’s a sin to not keep godly priorities—godly woman, wife, mom, and friend. There are many people who can work jobs, but only you can raise the children with whom God has blessed you." -GraceDriscoll
And to finish, some beautiful lyrics from a beautiful song:
She rises up as morning breaks/She moves among these rooms alone/Before we wake/And her heart is so full; it overflows/She waters us with love and the children grow/So many years from now/Long after we are gone/These trees will spread their branches out/And bless the dawn/These trees will spread their branches out/And bless someone -PlantingTrees AndrewPeterson