Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.       Ephesians 4:29-31


One of the greatest threats to our walk with Jesus is an attitude of bitterness and resentment. The following passage from an unknown source speaks to this attitude:


It is reported that after the Civil War Robert E. Lee visited the home of a Kentucky lady.  During the visit she took Lee to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. As they stood looking at the tree, she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.”

Lee’s point was that it is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain. If we hang onto bitterness, it will take root and negatively affect the rest of our lives. Often we are the only one that bitterness hurts. We suffer by hanging on to the past as those who hurt us move on and enjoy their lives. We must cut down or remove the battle-damaged trees from life and allow something new to grow and flourish in their place. We should not excuse away the injustice, but we cannot allow it to negatively influence the rest of our lives either. We must not allow it to rob us of the blessings of life.

When we cling to bitterness and resentment, we not only rob ourselves of the Lord’s blessings that He so dearly wants to bestow upon us, but we hurt the Kingdom. It is hard for us to be a positive influence or witness when bitterness has taken root in our hearts. That is why Paul encouraged the Ephesians to “let go.” Otherwise, they could not build others up in the faith. Remember that Jesus set the example for us by forgiving. He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We are all sinners in need of a Savior. “Cut it down,” and “forget it.” Turn it over to God and let Him carry that burden today!


Today’s Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have shown me that by clinging to bitterness I am not able to fully experience Your healing in my heart that has been hurt. Today I ask that You would “forgive my trespasses” as You help me to “forgive those who have hurt me.” Help me cut down the vine of bitterness that is choking out the new life You want me to experience as I walk with You.

David Barns

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