Bitterness a Root With a Bitter Fruit – Part Five

Ephesians 4: 30 – 32

When the poet Edwin Markham reached the age of retirement, he was stunned to learn that his banking friend had betrayed him and lost all of his life’s savings. At retirement he was penniless. The torch of bitterness burned where the candle of joy had formerly gleamed. His inspiration ceased and his pen became unproductive. One day this highly productive poet was sitting doodling, drawing circles when the convicting influence of the Holy Spirit impacted him. He said the Holy Spirit did not speak to him in an audible voice but clearly convinced him, “Markham, if you do not deal with this thing, it is going to ruin you. You cannot afford the price you are paying. You must forgive that man.” He prayed, “Lord, I will, and I do freely forgive.”

With the root of bitterness uprooted, his creativity returned and the man who wrote the memorable poems “Lincoln” and “The Man With the Hoe” produced what he considered his best poem entitled “Outwitted.”

“He drew a circle that shut me out–

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout;

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in!”

Pray for the person you consider to have offended you. In Matthew 5:43-46, Jesus appeals to us to do so.  Stephen prayed for those stoning him, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60).  Maintain a passion for friendship. 

The coup de gras in dealing with sin is this. Here is the final step in dealing with bitterness and all sin. “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). Rip up the root and put it on the cross.

Ephesians 4:32 is the highest motive for uprooting the root of bitterness: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you”  (Eph 4:32). Forgive as an act of gratitude for being forgiven.

If our high and holy God can condescend to forgive such a lowly creature as I, then I, as a show of gratitude for His forgiveness of me, can forgive my peers. Do it in Jesus’ name.

In reality forgiveness is something good you do for yourself.