Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Roots of Bitterness and Church Growth
I had a recent conversation with a Pastor who told me that he knew of a church that had been through three bitter divorces/splits over the past six years. He went on to say that he was convinced that the congregation could not and would not grow substantially until the "roots of Bitterness" were healed. I agree with my friend and urge each of you to ask God's Spirit to reveal any Bitterness in your heart and rid yourself of everything He reveals. (Al Qaeda never forgives and this is the result.)
Ephesians 4:26-27 has a very interesting comment that is key to reconciliation, healing and growth. It says, "Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your bitterness. Do not give the devil an opportunity."
I was reared in a culture that knew anger first hand and we frequently used it to get what we wanted. We used our anger to manipulate, frighten, bully and intimidate. However, the church's stand was to turn a blind eye to anger's bitter abuses as well as its positive effects. Yes, I said positive effects.
Most of us in the counseling fields attempt to put a positive spin on anger but no book of counseling I ever read does a better job of re framing anger and bitterness than the Bible. In this passage St. Paul makes a key distinction between anger as a feeling and anger that has become a mind set called Bitterness.
God does not condemn our angry feelings. But He does forbid the negative results of anger. When anger settles into the brain and becomes a way of thinking and guiding our actions it has become a "Root of Bitterness". This is what the Bible forbids in Ephesians when St. Paul says, "Do not let the sun go down on your bitter mind set of unforgiven."
We need to be preaching, teaching and counseling people about this verse. By helping people clean up grudges, long held pain, deep resentments and judgments we can allow God to be an evangelist and draw many to Himself and to the church that has been healed.