By Earl Robertson
It is almost unbelievable what bitterness can do to a good person. We have witnessed over and over again capable and good men become bitter in their hearts. As a result, they were no longer used to the accomplishment of good as before and their friends became few. This does not have to be. It makes no difference who the person is, if he allows his heart to become bitter it will affect his whole life and eternal future.
The Israelites were forsaken by the Lord and designated as a people of Gomorrah, and their rulers as of Sodom (Isa. 1:10; 3:9); they not only live like Sodom and Gomorrah (Jer. 23:14), but their sins were greater than that of Sodom (Ezek. 16:46ff). Moses wrote of them saying, “For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps” (Deut. 32:32, 33). In the figure, the Israelites are represented by the vine and the grapes represent their actions. These people of God produced a fruit of spiritual and moral conduct bitter as worm-wood, as deadly as the poison of dragons and cruel as the venom of a snake! They could not ignore the doctrine of God and at the same time be inviting and influential for good.
In the same figure, Paul says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Heb. 12:15). What “fruit” might be produced must essentially come from the root. With the root being bitter, the fruit also had to be the same. Simon, as a sinner before God, was told that he was “in the gall of bitterness” (Acts 8:23). Husbands are admonished to love their wives and “be not bitter against them” (Eph. 4:31).
Bitterness destroys oneself, others, and the Lord’s cause. James says, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth” (3:14). Watch one when his heart becomes bitter: the closest friends he has, who have never done anything but good for him, is suddenly misjudged and condemned. Even the truth of God is lied against. But would the bitter one recognize and acknowledge such to be true? “Keep thy heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23).
Truth Magazine XXIV: 47, p. 757
November 27, 1980