Removing “Roots of Bitterness” : Creating Boundaries that Protect the Soul


 Memes are always funny to me to some degree because the presentation is almost always aesthetically appealing  and very often there’s some degree of truth in what is being said – which is why they are popular and shared over and over again. This one hits home at pivotal time in my life as I compete my last semester of undergrad and I evaluate where I have come from as well as where I’d like to go. I have had some words of wisdom from family members (namely mom) about how to grow in the area of “friendship.” It basically amounted to encouraging me to pursue holiness in this area in the way of changing the nature/ level of intimacy in certain relationships. 

It’s totally healthy (but difficult) to establish new boundaries for existing relationships in your life as you grow up. I’ve had some painful jolts to reality in the past year that have lead me to just how true this is (even though I’ve been slow to make changes) ! Note: I do take the phrase “mental issues” to really mean “heart issues,” however. 

 Establishing new boundaries in existing relationships does not mean that you have to cut people off but sometimes what once was simply cannot be and you have to begin anew. This is especially true when there’s lack of respect, understanding, kindness & forgiveness (and the presence of bitterness) in a relationship. 

My former (yay for church plants!!!) church’s pastor did a series on bitterness/lack of forgiveness once and dealt with my heart on some issues as well as changed how I deal with difficult situations. Bitterness is truly like suffocation/asphyxiation for the soul and bitter people defile/hurt those around them -it’s poisonous  (Deuteronomy 29:18). Whether it’s a grudge or latent anger that is the cause of bitterness- it’s not good. DesiringGod has a wonderful article on Bitterness that ties the point to lack of the right view on eternal security:

“He feels secure when he is not secure. He says, ‘I shall be safe [=secure], though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ He misunderstands the covenant God makes. He thinks because he is a part of the covenant people, he is secure from God’s judgement.” 

There’s often presumption of eternal security because of past “spirituality” or association with Christians (I know I’ve been guilty of this). However we are to never forsake growing in Christ lest our hearts become hardened and we fall away (it happens !). 

My favorite verse in Hebrews that drives home this meme’s relevance as to how necessary it is to remove “roots of bitterness” from our lives- whether it’s dealing with our own hearts or distancing ourselves from someone else –  is Hebrews 12:14-15: 

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 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” 

This truly is a “warning not to treat holiness lightly or to presume upon more grace.” John Piper goes on to say that this “root of bitterness” is a person or doctrine in the church that does/encourages just that  presumption of salvation and lack of vigilance in fighting and pursuing holiness.   

So with that reminder I find peace in the need to establish new boundaries in existing relationships lest I presume security or come to a slow halt in the fight for holiness! It’s no easy task but becoming more like Christ calls for suffering & I’m grateful to be a part of a body of believers who strives to be ever vigilant in fighting for holiness and constantly pursing to grow in faith ! The peace of knowing Him will make these changes in my relationships outside of church much easier! 


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