Beware of Bitter Root Judgments
by Joanne Ellison

Good afternoon and welcome to making space Mondays (for God that is). Some of you have just stumbled onto this blog because you are dealing with what the Bible calls bitter root judgments. Let me just put this out there on the front end. If you are a living-breathing-human being then at some time in your life or perhaps now you are dealing with some bitterness. We all do. But most of us don’t want to stay there and are pretty miserable when we come to the realization that being bitter against someone is destructive both to them and ourselves. So first let’s see what Scripture says about this subject. Secondly, let’s examine what to do when we find ourselves in a bitter place, and thirdly what can we do to prevent bitter root judgments.

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. (Hebrews 12:15)

Root defined is the part of the plant which attaches it to the ground typically underground conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant.

Bitter is defined as having a sharp smell; not sweet;  or angry, hurt or resentful

Together, a bitter root judgment is anger and resentment that typically is underground nourishing a judgement against someone.

So the question is what do we do when we find ourselves in a bitter place harboring grudges and resentment towards someone? Friends, we all deal with anger and resentment, but the key is not to nourish it. We must starve it. We must intentionally not feed our anger. Anger turns into resentment and resentment into bitterness and pretty soon a root is underground and the plant withers in pool of bitterness. The key to not allowing this spiraling of anger is to deal with it quickly. Paul writes:

Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath. (Ephesians 4:26). 

We must deal with our anger before the day ends. Offer forgiveness to the person who wronged you. Ask for forgiveness and own your part of the hurtful situation. This feeds your plant with nourishment of the Word and brings life. Harboring anger turns to resentment and bitterness when you do not deal quickly with your heart.

And lastly, how do we prevent a bitter root from even starting to invade our hearts? We keep our hearts clean by the washing of the Word. We allow the Word to read us and we ask the Holy Spirit daily to do a heart examination:

Search me, God and know my heart; test me and see if there is any offense in me. (Psalm 139)

If there is anyone to whom you hold a grudge or perhaps now it’s grown into a bitter root judgment, take time today to deal with your heart. The Lord is faithful and will give you a fresh start.



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  1. Susan

    I struggle with forgiveness mostly forgiving myself..worki g on it. If we have a root of bitterness are we still saved

    • Joanne Ellison

      Salvation is a free gift offered to us when we turn from our sin to God and receive His Son Jesus Christ into our lives. Then the process of sanctification begins. Paul writes in the letter to the Philippians, that we are to work out our salvation what God has worked in. We do not lose our salvation because of bitterness, but it does impede our growth in Christ. Bitterness can grow like a cancer and threaten our spiritual progress. When I see bitterness begin to grow in my heart, I confess it as sin and ask the Lord to help me forgive anyone who has offended me. Peter boldly declared: Repent so that the times of refreshing will come. Repentance from bitterness frees you to love.


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