“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15
Have you ever held a big snake? Like a really big snake? At Royal Family Kids Camp this last year, we brought in a mobile reptile zoo thing to entertain the kids for a about an hour while most of the adults were taking care of business to get the camp cleaned up. Not having a specific duty at the time, I went down to see what this reptile zoo thing was all about.
At one point, I was asked to be one of 3 adults to hold a snake. Not just any snake, but a python. Pythons are long (on average about 12 feet), heavy and strong. While holding the tail end for only a few moments, I made some observations. All three of us adults had trouble holding our section of the snake, not only because of the awkwardness of holding such a long and heavy object, but also because of its goal. Over the course of a few short moments, the snake managed to wrap itself around me-not all the way around me, but around my wrist and was working his way up my arm. Again, I’m not a snake expert, or for that matter know any more than the average person about snakes, but it seemed to me, that this snake had a plan. It I had continued to stand there and allow the snake to do what ever it wanted, I am pretty sure that it would have worked its way up my arm, around my body then I probably would not have been able to escape.
I find this a striking parallel to anger and bitterness. Anger and bitterness can creep into our hearts and seem harmless at first. After all, we have a right to be angry right? What they did to you was wrong! Oh, and you are not only person hurt by their actions, it hurt your family as well! And it is emotional too, so your anger is justified. Lets not forget that Jesus got angry too, or at least it would seem so by the account of Him driving out the money changers from the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). We can find all kinds of reasons to be angry and hold our anger.
I’m not saying that having anger is wrong. It is perfectly natural feeling to having and can be good at times, and I do believe that Jesus was angry when he drove out the money changers from the temple. We do have to be careful about what we do with our anger. Jesus’ anger drove him to do what was right and necessary in the given situation. The problem is that so often we choose to hold our anger too long, and it becomes bitterness.
Back to the snake analogy: holding the snake for too long and becoming comfortable with it would allow it to overtake me. Becoming comfortable with anger also allows makes us vulnerable to it overtaking us by becoming bitterness. Bitterness is poison to the spirit, it causes one to not be able to say, do, or think anything positive about a person or group of people. It ruins your outlook on life an allows your situation to be bigger in your life than God. It creeps in slowly and takes over your life while you stand there thinking you can control it.
As I write today, I believe that I on the side of victory from anger and bitterness. The crazy thing about it, is that I had not realized how much anger and bitter I was carrying around, until I decided to let it go. The other day, I was driving home from an event, and Roberta was
sleeping resting her eyes. We had a conversation earlier in the day about some negative things that I had to say, and as does so well, she called me out on it. She told me that I needed to work through my anger and bitterness (which I denied existed, or only admitted to so she’d stop talking). As I was driving, I prayed. I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but I clearly heard God tell me to put it down.
So, I thought about it. I decided that there is no one in my life that I want to control me but Jesus. As long as I held anger and bitterness, I was allowing something else to control me. My mood could be affected by a comment I made or someone else made that reminded me of someone or something. I could not speak positively about certain people, or even think a good though, and these people are brothers and sisters in Christ! How wrong is that?
I walk in forgiveness. God forgave me of all the things that I have done wrong, so who am I to hold what wrong has been done to me against the supposed wrongdoer? I choose forgiveness. I choose freedom. I choose love. I choose to let go of anger and bitterness.