The Root of the Fruit

“As a man thinks so he is.” (Proverbs 23: 7)

We translate into reality our attitude of mind. What you think, you become.

Attitudes, like pipelines, can get clogged and need cleaning out. Ephesians 4: 30 – 32 notes some of the most common clogs preventing the free flow of an attitude pleasing to the Lord and profitable for the person. Let’s survey them and if at all applicable ask our Lord’s help to remove them.

“Bitterness” refers to a settled hostility that poisons the whole inner person. It develops when a person does something we don’t like and we harbor ill will toward them. This root of bitterness may grow for years before sprouting. However, if the root is allowed to remain it will inevitably sprout. There is a horticultural law which states: “The shoot is proportional to the root.” If you see a little bitterness expressed by a person there is a little bitterness in life. If you see a lot of bitterness expressed, there is a big root of bitterness in life.

The text notes the next sequential step. Bitterness leads to “wrath.” Wrath is an outward explosion of inward feelings.

Anger results from wrath. Anger is an emotional arousal caused by something that displeases us. Most major cities and increasingly smaller towns, have experienced an epidemic of murders. Many of these involve family members or friends. They are called “crimes of passion.”

Horace, the Latin lyric poet, was right when he wrote: “Anger is momentary insanity.”

A person trying to defend a bad temper said, “I explode and then it is all over with.”

“Yes,” replied a friend, “just like a shotgun — but look at the damage that’s left behind.”

Solomon wisely wrote: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” (Prov. 15: 1)

Carol Travis in “Anger – The Misunderstood Emotion” observes: “The psychological rationale for venting anger does not stand up under scrutiny. The weight of the evidence indicates precisely the opposite. Expressing anger makes you angrier, solidifies an angry attitude, and establishes a hostile habit.

If you keep quiet about momentary irritations and distract yourself with pleasant activities until your fury simmers down, chances are you will feel better, and feel better faster, than if you let yourself go in a shouting match. A ‘ventilationist’ society pays no attention to the social glue of kindness and empathy — and is in danger of disintegrating from within.”

In Ephesians 4: 31 anger is shown to lead to “clamor.” That is a good Bible word for brawling. It means “a tumult of controversy.” It means all pandemonium breaks out. What causes it?  Anger. What causes anger? Wrath. What causes wrath? Bitterness. There, exposed, is the root.

No person can ever have the attitude approved by Christ with any stage of that progression alive in his or her life.

Ephesians 4: 32 is the verse that follows and offers a solution: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.