Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (Hebrews 12:15 KJV).
Kudzu is an invasive vine that grows sixty to a hundred feet in each growing season. Introduced as an ornamental vine, it was planted by farmers and conservationist for forage and soil conservation on about a half a million acres. However, it soon became known as the “vine that ate the South” because of the ability to cover everything in its path. Finally, people began to curse its existence after they began losing farm and timber to its prolific tendrils. No longer an “acceptable cover crop” Kudzu was demoted to “weed status” by the Department of Agriculture. (New Georgia Encyclopedia)
While writing last week’s post, Delays-Disappointments-Detours, the thought occurred to me that if anyone had a reason to become bitter in their journey, it was Joshua and Caleb. I thought about the years spent as slaves in Egypt, the deliverance, the espionage assignment, and the faith-filled report. They never wavered in God’s ability to keep His promise. But for all their belief, and their obedience they were sentenced to forty years in the wilderness with the rest of the disobedient and unbelieving. Forty years!
Can you imagine? To be so close to the promise, only to have it snatched from your hands must have twisted their insides, if only for a moment. Bitterness could have taken root and flourished.
What’s the harm in a little bitterness when falsely accused, mistreated, abused, or misunderstood? When others succeed, it seems, without years of rejection. When we are overlooked for a promotion or raise in salary. Surely, we are justified in our disappointments. So what is wrong with a little bitterness?
Like Kudzu, bitterness doesn’t stay in one place. It creeps around, shading out the sunshine, attaching itself to everything it touches, eventually killing all in its path. The problem, is we don’t see its destructiveness until it’s too late. What starts out as a justified seed of hurt, sprinkled with unforgiveness, soon becomes a raging nuisance. We soon feel its effect as every fruit of the Spirit begins to wither, replaced by darkness and decay. We may hide it in our actions, but not in our tone. Our words become caustic, seeds of destruction spread abroad wherever we trod.
So, how can we keep the vine of bitterness from taking root? My experience is thankfulness. Being thankful for the present experience is a guaranteed herbicide of bitter roots!
To read more about Kudzu visit:
Wikipedia Kudzu in the South
New Georgia Encyclopedia Kudzu