The Root of Bitterness

bitternessAnd Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar. [2 Samuel 13:22, KJV].

Hate is a very dangerous thing to keep because although it cannot be seen, its impact is often violent in nature. The unfortunate thing is that when hate or strong dislike is not dealt with, it grows. As it grows in the heart, if not snipped in the bud, it will eventually manifest towards the offender and as in the case of Absalom and Cain, it will manifest itself in murder. When Cain got offended that his brother’s offering was acceptable to God while his was not, he harbored a strong dislike in his heart for his  Abel. Although Cain did not recognize just how dangerous it was to be in that state, God knew and cautioned him saying, “Sin is waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you. But you can conquer it” [Genesis 4:7, TLB]. Before Cain murdered Abel in the field, he had already murdered him in his heart; the sin of hate had given birth to murder in his heart, and when given the opportune time, it manifested itself in the violent slaughter of his own brother.

Similarly, King David’s son Absalom got mightily offended when his half elder brother Amnon, raped his sister Tamar. The offense was so great that the Bible says that for two years Absalom did not say anything to his brother, and said neither good or bad. For two years, he plotted and planned for an opportune moment to strike and revenge his sister’s sexual abuse, especially when their father the King did not do anything about the incident. When an offended person opens up and voices out their hurt or pain at offense, it opens the door for reconciliation. However, when that hurt and pain is hidden or swept under the rug, it allows the hurt to fester into a deep root of bitterness as was with Absalom’s case [Hebrews 12:15].

As Christians, we have passed on from death to life, and in this life that we now live, the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is out of nature or coding to hate a fellow brother, no matter how much unChristlike they seem or behave. The Apostle John admonished us on this when he said: Anyone who hates (abominates, detests) his brother [in Christ] is [at heart] a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding (persevering) within him” [1 John 3:15, AMPC]. God is love and in him, there is no darkness, including hate.  Remember that if you say you love God whom you don’t see but hate your brother whom you see, then you are a liar.

The unfortunate part of offense is that the offended party allows another person to live rent-free in their head, while the offender walks around freely. For two years, Amnon was oblivious to the hate that his brother had for him. Had he known just how much his brother had it out for him, perhaps he would not have gone for the feast Absalom threw, and his life would have been preserved. For forty-four years, King David was oblivious to just how much his son Absalom disliked him for not taking any actions against Amnon when he raped Tamar. The hate consumed Absalom so much that he went as far as dethroning the king and turning the heart of the people towards him, and against the king. In the end, Absalom paid with his life for the bitterness and anger he had harbored for so long. This is what happens when we also walk down the path of Cain or Absalom.  The love of God shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Spirit, doesn’t flow as freely as it used to be, because we have allowed unforgiveness, bitterness or malice to take a hold of our heart. As we guard our hearts against others so they don’t treat us like the previous people did, we are unable to have free fellowship with God, because we limit ourselves from receiving from Him. 

As justified as we are in doing that, what we don’t realize is that we end up closing ourselves to God as well. When you find yourself in this position, take a step back from everything and let the Holy Spirit help you on forgiving and healing, so you can continue in intimacy with God. God desires to have intimacy with you all the time, and no one is worth you losing that intimacy, not because God left, but because your hardened heart limits you from freely expressing yourself to him. There is no use giving God lip service when your heart is far from him, or giving him works when your love for him is growing cold because of offense. We have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and the Lord desires that many in this world be blessed by that love. Don’t let one person’s misbehavior cause others to suffer when you have so much to give.

Anytime you find yourself offended, “watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives..” [Hebrews 12:15, TLB]. Offenses WILL come; Jesus already prophesied that, but will you take a take a hold of it or will you let it take a hold of you?


One Comment Add yours

  1. Yvette says:

    This is a great write-up. It reminds me of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus because he had harbored hatred in his heart for Jesus when Jesus rebuked him (Mark 14). Thank you for sharing 🙂


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