Yesterday I spent several hours digging out some ivy that had gotten out of hand in our back yard. A small piece of ivy that started in a small pot three years ago had spread into areas that was ruining the landscape of the yard.
In the picture to the left, you can see how much the ivy had spread and taken over the yard. All the green to the rear and left of the small water fountain is ivy. It’s hard for me to imagine that the plant could spread that much so fast.
The day before, I pulled down a trumpet vine that had also gotten out of hand. While on my runs along a country road not far from our house, I had seen hummingbirds at a flowering plant along my route. Two years ago I pulled up a small piece of root from that plant hoping I could get hummingbirds to visit it in our yard.
The plant looked similar to the one in the picture to the right. As with the ivy, this plant quickly spread up and along our fence that borders the neighbor’s yard. My wife and I decided it was time for that plant to come down because shoots from its root system were popping up everywhere and it was also getting out of hand.
The root systems of the trumpet vine and the ivy plant are very different. The trumpet vine tends to have very deep tap roots that go down deep into the soil. The picture at the right shows how large and thick their roots can be. The root system of the ivy plant that I pulled up were very shallow, yet they were spread out quite a bit. Each of these two plants receive the nutrients and water they need from different types of roots and neither plant could survive or thrive without a well-developed system of roots.
As I worked on these two projects my mind went to two scriptures. One is from Colossians that we are studying in our men’s Bible study and the other is a verse that supports one of the principles found in my Biblical Principles for a Full Life list – Let Go of Anger, Bitterness and Resentment. Here’s the scripture that supports the biblical principle:
“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” Hebrews 12:14-15
One can interpret this verse to mean that it’s important not to allow bitterness to fester because it causes trouble.
Let’s look at some possible roots of bitterness. Bitterness can often be rooted in resentment that can come from disappointment, unmet expectations or hurt feelings. Bitterness can also spring from wounds of unkind or hurtful words that are spoken or from unjust treatment. And, resentment and bitterness will often be accompanied by a spirit of unforgiveness. The research shows that there is a link between unforgiveness and poor health. (see the document below.) Just as the ivy and trumpet vine plants spread and grow as their roots reach out, a root of bitterness can impact on your physical health as well as your emotional health, as the research shows.
The solution to bitterness is forgiveness. Paul urges us to, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
To be able to forgive, we must often experience healing in our heart of the wounds or hurts that may have been at the root. Jesus is the source of life and genuine healing. This is where the second verse about roots comes in.
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7
The truth is that through the death of Jesus, God has forgiven you of all your sins – past, present and future. As you become and remain rooted in Christ, you’ll find it easier to let go of hurts and disappointments that have been brought on by others. The sooner you’re able to allow Jesus to mend your wounds, the less likely that a root of bitterness will take hold in your heart and impact adversely on your health.
Just as it was a difficult task of cleaning out the roots of the spreading ivy in my yard, digging out roots of bitterness can be tough and messy. But God wants you to replace the bitterness with the joy and peace that accompanies forgiveness. He wants you to extend the same grace to others that he extends to you.
You can do it… with God’s help, and for his glory.
What the Research Shows
Blog Post – Jesus Can Heal Us From Anger