Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness
grows up to trouble you,
Every family’s got one. Most workplaces and churches have several: those people who announce how much they hate drama, but produce it everywhere they go. What they really mean is that they hate drama that doesn’t revolve around them. Drama and conflict cling to them like dryer lint. That aunt who isn’t happy unless she’s miserable. Or the brother who blows a gasket over the weather. Even that lady in small group so broken by her divorce 20 years ago that every discussion ends there. The irony is that these people won’t recognize themselves in these descriptions. Could you be one of them? Ask a friend you trust.
When we live with a root of bitterness, it shows up in every disagreement. Little slights or mistakes become World War III. Making it worse, bitter people ignite bitterness in others. They gravitate toward people having a disagreement and add fuel to the fire, pretending to help, but gaining converts to their cause. Bitter people often take their hurts to the internet. Their not-so-subtle posts flood our newsfeeds: “Marriage means getting your heart broken.” “I need a church that accepts people.” “If you don’t repost this, you’re not my friend.” Their bitter hearts are salved for a while if they get enough “likes” or comments, but attacking an enemy via social media is like firing a sawed-off shotgun at your entire Friends List. It misses the real target, but creates a lot of casualties. Bitterness poisons every relationship, including the one with ourselves.
Proverbs 20:3 has an even stronger name for people who create conflict. Make sure it’s not describing you.