My Canadian friends love a particular kind of candy. While I have attempted to give it a fair shake, it is the most bitter garbage I have ever tasted! I can’t even stomach it: I have to spit out the bitterness. Let’s be honest. Our world is EXTREMELY negative, polarized, and divisive. Even a cursory glance at social media suggests that bitterness is the flavor of the day. I can totally understand why bitterness is spreading like an uncontrolled weed. I see so many things that frustrate me, break my heart, and even anger me. Truth be told, I often feel a bitter taste building on the end of my tongue. However, we all need to remember not to let bitterness overcome us and drive our actions.
Look at what Paul tells us in Hebrews chapter 12:
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. Hebrews 12:14-15
- Strive for peace with everyone: This can be a bitter pill for us to swallow in this age of divisiveness and polarization. Some of you are likely making a list of exceptions in your heads right now of those you don’t have to show peace to. However, Paul is exceptionally clear here. It does not matter what differences we have with others, our goal should not be to sow more divisiveness, but to sow seeds of love and peace.
- Model holiness: I can’t really blame the secular world for getting so caught up in polarizing issues. But Paul tells us that Christ-followers need to be an example of a better way of living. We need to be models of the holiness of Christ Jesus in the way we live and treat others. When people see Christians in life and social media they should be struck by how radically different we are. They should be amazed at how we love one another, love others, and are seeking to make the world better. They should be so taken by how different we are that they want to stop acting worldly, and instead seek God’s ways.
- We should seek to avoid causing trouble: As Paul puts it, letting bitterness grow unfettered leads to all sorts of trouble. It can lead to broken relationships, arguments, anger, and all sorts of other troubles. Let me be blunt. I have seen both politically liberal and conservative Christians cause a lot of trouble over political opinions. I’ve seen many long-lasting relationships ripped to shreds, which breaks my heart. Don’t let your bitterness cause trouble for yourself or others.
- Seek God’s grace: The focus in our lives should be less on always being right, and more on sharing and modeling God’s grace. Yes, we have a right to our opinions, and yes, we have a right to defend them vigorously. But at the end of the day, God’s grace is more important than anything else. Let’s make sure we never lose that perspective.