Cleansing the Soul of Bitterness [Part 2]


Are you ready for some good news?

The grace of God can free your soul from bitterness for good.

Today’s Text: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.” (Hebrews 12:15–16, ESV)

When the writer of Hebrews comes to a big moment of warning–- when he shouts: “Don’t become like this sinner”–he surprises me. In referencing Isaac’s sons, I would have thought the scripture would adjure us to make sure we never sin like Jacob. He was a liar, a conniver and a cheater. But the big warning isn’t about avoiding a Jacob-like lifestyle, the big exhortation is: don’t be an Esau.

When Jacob stole Esau’s blessing (Genesis 27), Esau became embittered and thought about killing Jacob. Why does God warn us to not be like Esau? God seems to care more about someone taking offense than someone causing an offense.

When Jesus warns us to pay more attention to the plank in our own eyes than the specks in others’ eyes (Matthew 7:3), he’s talking about the same thing. If you are focused on the harm that someone else is causing you, you let a plank remain in your own eye. The worse sin is always bitterness.

Esau became embittered because he misunderstood his inheritance. He sold it as a youngster, assuming he was entitled to it no matter what he did. But by definition, an inheritance isn’t an entitlement. An inheritance is a gift— something that you can’t earn. Someone else earns it and gives it to you.

Much of our bitterness results from an entitlement mentality in life. Entitlement thinking is like legalism – I pay you something so that you will fulfill your end of the contract and give me what I deserve. But all the good gifts of God are grace to us. Life is grace. Health is grace. Prosperity is grace. Relationships are grace.

Although Jacob was the deceiver and cheater, God tells us in Hebrews to make sure we’re never like Esau – the embittered one. Taking offense is, in some ways, more toxic than the offense itself. In Christ, you can let go of bitterness because He died for those who have hurt you. He became their sin. He has forgiven your sin. You don’t have to let a bitter root spring up in your heart. And that’s the Gospel!

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