Episode 1. The Root Produces the Fruit
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Bitterness is something that we sometimes carry around in our hearts. And so often, we don’t even realise that this root of bitterness has taken hold in our lives. What is it and what can we do …
Bitterness is something that we sometimes carry around in our hearts. And so often, we don’t even realise that this root of bitterness has taken hold in our lives. What is it and what can we do about it?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but when a seed falls to the ground and dies ultimately it sprouts and takes root. And if it was the seed of a plum tree we can be fairly certain that the thing that’s growing there is going to one day produce, well not apricots, not apples, not pears, we all know it’s going to produce a plum because it’s a plum tree that’s taken root and in fact it’s the root that ultimately produces the fruit. It just one of those basic facts of life that actually we don’t have to think much about, the root produces the fruit.
And it’s a bit like that in our hearts. If our heart takes root in goodness then we’ll produce good fruit, in bad things and we’ll produce bad fruit, in sweet things then we’ll produce sweet fruit, in bitter things and we’ll produce bitter fruit. It’s just not rocket science is it?
This week on the program we’re going to take a look at the phenomenon of anger in our society and in our lives. There’s a great movie a few years ago called Anger Management. Anger is a real phenomenon in the hearts of so many people, you know how pressure builds up in life and ultimately people explode. We have at home a pressure cooker and we cook things in it and there’s a vent and if the steam didn’t come out of the vent that pressure cooker would explode and it’s the same with us.
So many people are out there venting their anger; it’s in epidemic proportions. You have road rage and supermarket rage and a call centre rage, in fact this week’s program was prompted by a real life experience. At the moment I have a couple of brothers, Greek guys, doing some painting at my old 19th century terrace, just needed a bit of touching up. And they’re doing a much bigger job in parallel to ours in one of the wealthiest streets in our country.
This place they’re painting is a huge five storey mansion, they’re using a special paint that costs, wait for it, a thousand dollars a tin – unbelievable and the houses in this street are worth between fifteen and twenty-five million, this is where the mega wealthy live. And lots of people in this fairly narrow street are having building work done and so it’s pretty crowded and so even though they’ve got great views and lots of money and massive mansions there’s quite a bit of strife in this place.
The painters have been working there now for a few weeks and they were telling me that you wouldn’t believe the arguments raging between the neighbours. The house that they’re working on belongs to a couple in their seventies and they haven’t talked to their neighbours for twenty-five years because a quarter of a century ago they had an argument about some building works.
And all the neighbours in this street are fighting with one another. The woman who our painters are working for, they’d done some work a few years before and she was very nice, and now all of a sudden everyone is mean and nasty and horrible. Now you stand back from that and you think that’s unbelievable.
I mean these people have everything in life, there’s nothing they can’t have or buy or own really, everything their hearts desire and yet there’s a spirit, well a spirit of anger and bitterness and dissention in this place. Makes you wonder what’s going on there.
These two painters, I’ve used them before, they are lovely people, they do a brilliant job, they’re honest as the day is long. How can this woman be so nasty to them? I’ll tell you what’s happened, anger and bitterness has taken root in her heart, that’s why. You let things get to you and you get angry with people over and over and over again and it’s like, it’s like bitterness takes root in your heart and the root produces the fruit.
God actually talks a lot about anger, you know it’s a word that pops up three hundred and seventy-six times in the Bible which makes it one of the leading subjects that God talks about. Anger is something we all have to deal with and it springs up so often out of a root of bitterness.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament puts it like this, he says:
Pursue peace with everyone and holiness because without them you won’t get so much of a glimpse of God. Make sure that no one misses out on God’s grace so that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble because through it so many will be contaminated.
See there it is, the root produces the fruit. Make sure no one misses out on the grace of God so that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble. When a root of bitterness takes hold in our hearts it springs up and causes trouble and contaminates everyone around us.
We all have a problem with anger some days, we do, some people more than others but the longer we let it go on the more it takes hold of our hearts and our lives and produces bitterness and a bitter root produces bitter fruit. A root isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s something we cultivate and if we don’t want it to keep growing we have to stop feeding it.
The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 26. He says:
Be angry but don’t sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger and don’t make room for the devil.
See he knows, God knows. We all get angry from time to time, it’s not a sin. I mean sometimes people do things and it just causes us to get angry because they’ve wronged us but if we keep it inside, if we let the sun go down on our anger, if we keep it in our hearts and we brood over it and we work it over and over and over in our minds and we plan our revenge, that’s when it grows from a root into fruit.
The right way of handling it is just to get over it, to forgive and to move on and then we won’t be cultivating this root of bitterness which as sure as God made little green apples will produce fruit of bitterness because the root produces the fruit.
Now this isn’t something we can do on our own, I believe we need an antidote to this venom. It’s something that heals and cleanses and just gives us a fresh perspective. Let me just take you back to that earlier quote that we read before from Hebrews chapter 12, verses 14 and 15 where the writer says:
Pursue peace with everyone …
In fact that’s an active thing isn’t it? Pursue peace, go out of your way to pursue peace:
… and holiness because without them you won’t get so much of a glimpse of God. Make sure no one misses out on the grace of God so that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble.
See the antidote to bitterness that the Apostle Paul is pointing to here is God’s grace. What’s grace? Grace is Gods unmerited favour. We’re going to talk about it a bit on the program tomorrow because it’s a really important thing. God’s grace is His unmerited favour. He has every right under the sun to be angry with you and me a whole bunch more than He ever is and yet He sent His Son Jesus to die on that cross.
The cross is where justice meets love and turns it into grace, God’s forgiveness and when we experience that grace that’s what acts as the antidote to this root of bitterness. Without it it’s inevitable that a root of bitterness will spring up.