See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.Hebrews 12:15 NIV
The author of Hebrews here encourages us to not allow a root of bitterness to grow among us. Bitterness that would grow to cause problems and trouble within the body of believers. Bitterness that would defile, or corrupt, those who get caught up in it.
The Oxford dictionary defines bitterness as “anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment.” Bitterness seems to be at an epidemic level in the U.S. today. So many people are angry because of real or perceived injustice. We are angry, not just about what happened to us. But also to our ancestors and to others that we identify with. And we resent those who we perceive to be at fault. As well as those who do nothing to correct the problems we face.
Anger is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a normal human emotion. But we need to be careful to channel our anger into constructive channels. It is all too easy to allow anger to turn into bitterness and pollute our spirits. And bitterness seems not content to stay within the individual. Instead, it is like a poison that spreads and infects others who come into contact with the one who is bitter.
Dealing with Bitterness
And this is true with a body of believers as well. One who is filled with bitterness is like a dandelion whose root goes deep and who spreads its seeds indiscriminatingly. If great care is not taken, that one weed will soon fill the whole lawn. In the same way, one bitter spirit within the body, if not dealt with, will soon poison the spirit of the whole body. So make every effort to not allow bitterness a foothold in your own life. And encourage others to keep bitterness at bay as well. Overcome bitterness with joy.