(Today’s blog is a continuation of yesterday’s, which is adapted from a recent study I led on the problem of bitterness.)
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. –Hebrews 12:1, 2 (KJV)
What causes bitterness to set in? We need to look at some other parts of Hebrews 12:1, 2 to find out. Verse one speaks of this great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. These are the saints of old as described in Holy Scripture, and it is the church. God and His Word surround us. Let them encourage us. Bitterness is a refusal to let these viable resources refresh us. Bitterness is a terrible weight, but what does verse one tell us to do with every weight? Lay them aside, along with the sin, which so easily besets us. Sin has a way of knocking us backward in terms of our spiritual growth. You have heard about taking one step forward and three steps back. This is what sin does to us. Ungodly behavior and attitudes contrary to the mind of Christ stifle our growth, peace of mind, relationship with Christ, and relationship with family. Jesus Christ calls us to overcome sin and anything else that holds us back. Following Christ’s call is walking in victory, not in defeat.
We cannot cast off the weight of sin by ourselves and on our strength. We can only do this by the power of the Holy Spirit. When people try to overcome sin and the trials of life on their own they become discouraged, and if they are not careful bitterness begins to set in. We might find ourselves saying, “Here I am trying to live right and I keep falling down all of the time.”
We are to do what verse two says and look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. We look to Jesus, not to the world or ourselves. Christ overcame sin for us. He endured the cross so we would not have to. He died in our place and rose on the third day. Since He has overcome death, hell, and the grave He is able to overcome our problems, fears, and anxieties. We all have plenty of those, right?
Be careful of that root of bitterness springing up among us. How do we know when a root of bitterness is springing up? We know it because it is a demonic attack. We begin to feel overcome and overwhelmed by our problems. A discerning believer will get in the Word and prayer rather than cower in fear. Instead of running, we stand and face our problems. Rather than surrendering to defeat we stand firm in the power of Christ.
This root of bitterness (Verse 15) has defiled many as the Bible says. It defiles because it robs us of the abundant life God means for us to have. The abundant life is an overcoming life in the power of Christ. We are able to stand firm because we have Holy Spirit power. What a difference Christ makes. Do not surrender to bitterness, but instead trust the Lord and claim His promises.
God bless you today.