My Rose Bush and Root of Bitterness


It was such a pretty sunny day, so I went out to work in my flowerbeds.  A rose bush had recently died so I began to dig it up. It had been there a long time so the roots were large and ran deep into the ground.  It took about forty-five minutes before I got the last root out.

For any of you who might be thinking too highly of me, this post will reveal my wicked heart.  I’m pulling back the curtain on this one.  I may even lose some friends, but my purpose in these posts is to share what God is teaching me and to help  encourage others in their walk with God.  Sin keeps us from having a close relationship with our Saviour. If the exposure of my sin in this post helps even one person draw closer to God, then my mission is accomplished.


I stand amazed at how God gently leads me along.  The next day after uprooting that stubborn rose bush root,  I listened to a sermon by Adrian Rogers about the root of bitterness. God had prepared my heart to hear what I needed to take the next step toward Him.  I would like to share with you some of the points Adrian Rogers made. This man was such a gifted speaker and as he explained the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit convicted me of the sin of bitterness. This sin is easy to deny and justify.

Bitterness begins with a hurt, that is the seed.  Instead of forgiveness being applied right away, that hurt is harbored in the heart. The heart represents the soil. When the hurt is mulled over and thought about, wrath is born. The Webster’s Dictionary defines wrath as, retributory punishment for an offense. A bitter person wants to see justice done now.


Next, Anger is expressed. It may come in the form of sarcasm or it may not be  as obvious and display itself in a cool, aloof manner.  There is tension in the relationship. It may feel like an invisible wall is blocking honesty and freedom in the relationship. Anger easily arises around the person we are bitter against. I avoided this person when I could.

Clamor usually shows up eventually. This is when the feelings from the heart start emerging from the mouth.  Loudly insistent is one way of putting it. Usually the tone and volume changes when we talk to the person that has hurt us.

Ephesians 4: 29 says, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Evil Speaking is the fruit of a bad root of bitterness. I noticed I talked negatively about this person a lot.


Ephesians 4:30 goes on to say, And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking , be put away from you, with all malice: 

I think God warns us about bitterness about we can easily be bitter and not realize it. The root is unseen.  But when some of the fruit that has been listed above starts ripening and emerging, we need to dig that root out quickly! Now that I think about it,  I think I have harbored bitterness for years.

Peace and holiness are linked together.  We can’t be holy and our relationship with God be all it should be while having bad relationships with others. Our love for God  can be measured by the level of love we are showing to others.

Hebrews 12:15 says, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no men (or women) shall see the Lord:  Looking diligently lest any man fail (fall short) of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Application:  We need to…

  • strive for peace with others
  • strive for holiness so we will see God
  • Be diligent to receive God’s grace

SO… bitterness will not spring up and trouble us AND defile many others.

As I was digging the rose bush root up, there was a lot of Bermuda grass.  A sprig of this grass will root easily thereby, making it almost impossible to keep out of my flowerbeds.  I think bitterness is the same way. If I’m not careful, even when I think I’ve gotten rid of the last of my bitterness, at the next offense from this person, it could easily spring back up. God says to diligently look for it!

Did you notice my bitterness doesn’t just affect me. It contaminates those I’m around.  When I’m talking bad about that person to others, I’m lowering their view of that person I’m talking about and may cause them to be critical or bitter too. My children have asked me, “Mommy, why do you always assume the worst of_____________?”


Visiting New York City May, 4, 2008

Now, let’s look at the SOLUTION for digging that root of bitterness out!

1- Let God reveal it to you.

As I listened to this sermon, a certain face and name appeared in my mind.  The Holy Spirit showed me my bitterness toward this person. We can’t see our sin without God’s help. God surely showed me the strong root of bitterness growing in my heart.

2-Let God’s grace remove it.

It takes 2 to forgive…God and me.  I can’t forgive on my own.  I have to have God’s help. It is only by God’s grace that I even have the desire to change and I need His grace of forgiveness for my sin of bitterness. When God forgives me, then I am able to forgive the one who has offended me.  We are on the same hook with our offender. Only when we let them go,  are we made free.  With tears, I begged God to forgive me and take away all the roots of bitterness that had been secretly flourishing in my heart.  Then, like a spring rain, my heart felt cleansed and new again.

3- Let good replace the bitterness.

After God reveals our root of bitterness and we confess it and ask for His forgiveness, He removes it and that allows us to extend grace and forgiveness to our offender.

After suffering in a prison camp, Corrie ten Boom found herself in front of the man who had been her worst offender during the war.  He had become a Christian and was asking for her forgiveness.  She later said, “The will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”  So against her will she woodenly reached out to shake his hand.  As she did, she miraculously felt God’s peace flow over her whole body.

We can extend grace and forgiveness regardless of how we are feeling, but through the obedience to His word, He will give us freedom to love others as He has loved us.


A beautiful Tennessee day in May 2008

So there’s my ugly. I hope this has been a help to you. Please feel free to share this with others. Psalm 139:23, 24 are such good verses.  They are a prayer from David, the shepherd boy who was a man after God’s own heart.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes