It Only Takes a Seed!

Photo by ppdigital - MorgueFile

When I was a kid we had an oak tree growing in our front yard. Over the course of the 17 years we lived in that house the tree went from a small sapling to a mighty giant, dropping acorns everywhere. To think that it all began with a single acorn—a simple seed!

As big as that tree was, you can be sure that a massive, but unseen root system had developed in order to water and nourish the visible growth. All that could be seen above the ground was made possible by the root.

Remember Hebrews 12:14-15? “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled.” (NET)

“Pursue peace with everyone.” Wow! We aren’t given much of an option to stay mad! But what’s especially challenging is that a bitter root is not referred to as an it, but rather as a him (or her). And this is where it all gets really ugly!

Through the years I have encountered entire families that were dysfunctional and convoluted—primarily as a direct result of one person’s bitterness. In some of those situations it all began with a single seed—one cruel or unkind action that brought an unjust source of pain.

I know of a father who held bitterness toward another relative due to a cruel deed that led to his own father’s death. More than once he was given the opportunity to forgive and more than once he refused to let go of his bitterness. Through the years his children and his grandchildren paid a steep price in the form of toxic relationships–not to mention other issues.

I wish I could say that a bitter root refers only to cynical atheists, but unfortunately I’ve seen professing Christians defiled as well–and we’re not just talking about the rare, isolated person. Far too many Christian families continue to experience the long-lasting effects of the deadly poison of bitterness! In many cases it begins with just one seed. The bitterness of just one person due to just one experience can be toxic to entire families for generations to come.

Photo by Gracey - MorgueFile

Whether it be a natural family or a church family, we cannot allow even a single seed of bitterness to grow unchallenged in our midst. The potential damage is far too great—not to mention the fact that a refusal to forgive others casts a horribly poor reflection on our professed love for Christ.

Is all of this intended to be a scare tactic? No, just a reality check. Humans have an amazing tendency toward self-deception and we’re all masters at justifying practically any type of action or inaction. Unfortunately it’s to our own harm as well as to the detriment of others. When it comes to bitterness, a little honesty goes a long way. It takes only a single seed to defile many. If we have even an ounce of concern for those we love, we won’t hesitate to forgive those we don’t.

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One thought on “It Only Takes a Seed!

  1. “The potential damage is far too great—not to mention the fact that a refusal to forgive others casts a horribly poor reflection on our professed love for Christ.”

    Amen, Bob. The irony is that so often we mask our bitterness by calling it love. We are called to forgive as we have been forgiven and we can know forgiveness in an experiential way only by forgiving other, yet, so often we fail at this because we disapprove, or disagree of what we think we see in others.

    “Humans have an amazing tendency toward self-deception and we’re all masters at justifying practically any type of action or inaction. ”

    Whether what we see in them is real or not, doesn’t matter nearly as much as our reaction to it. We can move into grace, forgiveness and trust or we can move into suspicion, criticism and insecurity.

    I get your point about challenging the seeds of bitterness. It’s very important to sweep those acorns away with real love, for love is the only thing that can heal bitterness. And I think about that great tree in your yard. If that tree were a tree that grew from a bitter root, what would have to happen for healing to take place? I also see in this analogy, the potential danger of simply enjoying the shade offered by a bitter tree. Perhaps because dealing with it is too disruptive. Perhaps because we’ve grown so accustomed to the tree that we think it is supposed to be there.

    I believe that together, each of us as part of the one body of Christ can learn to live and grow in His love which honestly seems to be the remedy to just about anything.

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