Bitterness of Soul

   See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; Hebrews 12:15 NASB
     This very well-known verse came up in one of my devotionals recently and it caused me to begin meditating it once again. Part of the cry of my heart unto the Lord is that, as I read His word and seek Him for insight, He would cause me to be able to shed the confining glasses of religion and be able to see the fullness of His character and nature in His word. He gave me one of those moments of what I believe is spiritual clarity, as I meditated this verse about bitterness.
     I dare say, if most of us were honest, we would acknowledge that the way we have interpreted that verse is that it is the responsibility of the church to, (through correction), supervise people and their attitudes, to make sure they are held accountable to never, ever be bitter. And that if we don’t do that and they express it … Oh my goodness! They could cause the whole church to become full of bitter people!!
     May I submit, dear brethren, that if that is how we read and interpret this verse, that in actuality, we are being moved to endeavor to implement the exhortation of this verse out of a total “fear motivation” of what someone who is struggling with bitterness might do to us or our church. It is actually a very self-serving interpretation and motivation. And even though the verse specifically says, “see to it that no one falls short of the grace of God”, our execution of this passage of scripture is with anything but Grace.
     If someone is in danger of falling short of the grace of God, does it not seem that what they actually need is more of the grace of God? Most people define Grace as “unmerited favor”, and if you look at it as just that and that alone, you could easily believe that the last thing a bitter person needs is unmerited favor.
But, in reality, the full counsel of the word of God, in the full definition of the Greek word “charis”, translated in our English Bibles as Grace, is deeper and much more consequential in the life of a Christian than just the two simple words “unmerited favor”.
     Research into a Greek dictionary seeking for the full definition of the word charis, reveals the breadth and the depth of the Redemptive power of our God. The Greek dictionary will tell us that charis, in addition to unmerited favor, also speaks to God’s divine empowerment, and God’s Divine influence upon our heart. To see to it that no one falls short of God’s Divine empowerment… That no one falls short of His Divine influence upon their heart, means that we must be vessels of redemption and hope and healing to a bitter soul, that they might experience God’s influence to heal them and release them from the bonds of bitterness.
     To someone who has been wounded, especially at the hands of a fellow Christian brother or sister, or perhaps even a minister or leader, and is trapped in bitterness of soul, the worst thing the church can do is condemn them and demand that they arise to a legalistic and religious standard of conduct that is impossible absent of God’s redemptive grace, healing, resolution of the issues and justice. The body of Christ should be about restoration, not retribution. In Christianity, we have to be careful about falling into the trap of making quick judgements and taking sides in a conflict, when the ONLY side we are supposed to be on is the side of Jesus, truth and righteousness. And, it is Jesus Who said the good shepherd would leave the 99 to go after the one who was under threat of being culled out of the flock by the enemy.
     Our adversary, the devil, is prowling around looking for someone to devour! Satan knows the times and seasons of God. He has read the end time prophecies of God and knows that his time is short. His attacks are increasing in frequency and intensity. There is more occasion to be set up by the devil to be a wounded warrior than ever! He is relentless. He hates unity. He hates the power of God flowing in His church. He knows which of God’s people are really devoted to Him and acting to have an impact on the advancement of God’s Kingdom. Those people become his targets. And, he is quite adept at orchestrating misunderstandings and storms of hurt and conflict in the church. How should we respond?
     Is it possible that in the above scripture, the Lord is warning the church about the serious consequences not only to the church, but to the person overtaken in bitterness of soul, if we do not become the love and grace of Christ extended to them to rescue them out of the snare of the enemy, and help see that they do not fall short of the redemptive power of God’s influence to bring them to healing and restoration. One of the most significant scriptures which is a linchpin of our faith is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God is about love and redemption and we should be too.
     Now, of course, there are those people who practice bitterness as a lifestyle, who have received grace and counsel and have rejected it all in favor of a victim mentality and refusal to receive healing. There are times that correction is needful and appropriate when someone demonstrates habitual bitter behavior and a propensity for being offended and keeps the sheepfold stirred up in chaos and drama. But, my over 30 years in ministry tells me that those people and situations are actually pretty rare. If someone is hurt, broken and bitter, they are being set up by Satan to be in a position where it is difficult to reach for and receive God’s influence and grace. They are just too broken and hurting too deeply.
     My appeal, brethren, is that we consider that if we measure Hebrews 12:15 and it’s true meaning in the context of what we know to be God’s true character of love and redemption, we might see that the emphasis of this verse should be on helping people to receive the grace (influence) and healing of God, that they might be delivered from bitterness of soul. This seems to be more like the Jesus I know, as opposed to condemning someone and crushing a soul that is already broken. What is the genesis of their bitterness? Let’s try to find out and heal that.
   Isaiah 30:26 (KJV) 26 Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.

2 Responses to “Bitterness of Soul”

  1. Melissa Bryson says:

    I completely agree with your writing. If we would only remember to be led by Love—for God is Love & Love/God never fail. They will know us by our fruit. Jesus help us to bear the Fruit of Your Spirit always.
    I was thinking about Naomi & how she was bitter. Sometimes people are bitter because of things that happen in their lives that are not always in their control. Naomi was just a woman & had no say or control over where she was told to go. She had lost everything. Her husband, both her sons & didn’t even have a grandchild. She was just headed back to where she came from, the place she knew she was supposed to be. Ruth, a Moabite—(a people Who came from Lot & His daughter) who had suffered her own loss but saw the losses of Naomi as greater & had compassion on her. At some point in her relationship with Naomi, she had come to know Naomi’s true heart, a heart that truly loved God. Ruth knew that Naomi was hurting, her losses were great & that she needed to be cared for—she needed a friend. I love the Redemption of God for both of these women in this story. It’s so beautiful & shows how God sees & cares for all of us. He understands us better than anyone & He knows how to helps us when hard things happen to us & who to send to us to help in the journey. So thankful to you as my pastor, mentor & mostly for being my friend, for loving me at my worst & still seeing the God in me & not just the rust. I love you my friend.

    • admin says:


      Thank you for the encouraging words. Truth and mercy in balance. That is always the challenge. But I, like you, am convinced that as we walk in love and in the Spirit, we will experience God’s grace and supernatural empowerment. That empowerment will help us to set others free. Amen.

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