The Sweet Fruit of Summer by Mary Loudermilk.
“Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).
I may be one of those rare people who actually enjoys grocery shopping. I like wandering the aisles, reading labels, looking for new items. I wander the produce area with its array of fresh fruits and vegetables. I like the neat rows of apples and peaches, the deep color of the grape clusters. Being a bargain hunter, I also pause before buying high priced, out of season fruit that doesn’t have that wonderful flavor of summertime. Winter fruit does not compare with the succulent sweetness of sun-ripened summer fruit.
Our lives also produce fruit. It can be the sweet summer fruit of the Spirit or the tart, out of season flavor of winter when we do not allow the sunshine of the Spirit to sweeten our attitudes. Winter fruit, tart and bitter attitudes, affects those around us—our family, our friends and coworkers, our fellow believers.
When the Old Testament speaks of bitterness, it speaks more of despair, the anguish felt when overwhelmed by circumstances. However, in the New Testament the literal translation has to do with sharp or bitter taste. It speaks more of the angry resentfulness we can develop when we go through troubles. Bitterness burrows deep inside to the heart. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man” (Matthew 15:18).
Hebrews 12:15 refers to a root of bitterness. This is more than thoughts passing through our mind. When troubles strike, it is not unusual to question why, even to the point of questioning God. When hurts come, it is only natural to feel pain. These feelings do not grow into bitterness unless we dwell on them and allow them to push deep in our lives. When we do, they become like a poisonous plant ready to spread and overtake the good growth. To control bitterness, we need to not just prune it back but dig it up, roots and all. This is accomplished by prayer.
Bitterness has some disagreeable friends. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). These friends stick together, so when one enters your life you may find the others tagging along.
It is difficult for us to know the hidden things of our heart. Proverbs 16:2 says that “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes.” That is why prayer and the Word are essential to keep our fruit sweet. “For the word of God…is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). His chastening “yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11)
You may have faced many hard things in your life: betrayal, abuse, desertion, hatred, backbiting. Perhaps you feel the one who should protect and love you most has betrayed your trust. Offenses such as these are what Satan uses to plant bitterness in our heart. Only diligence on our part, being controlled by the Spirit instead of our carnal nature, will keep it from taking root. We do not deny that wrongs have been done, but we do not allow them to become the controlling factor in our lives. God’s antidote for bitterness is His grace. When we accept His grace in our lives and are released from bitterness, the inner hurts begin to heal. Bitterness cannot coexist with forgiveness.
The fruit we need to develop in our lives is the sweet summer fruit of the Spirit. James 3:17 states, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
(From: UPCI Ladies Ministries Newsletter – firstname.lastname@example.org)