Beware the Bad Root

“You know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. And you have seen their detestable things, their idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, which were among them. Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.” Deuteronomy 29:16-19

“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.” Hebrews 12:15

Every warning in scripture stems from wisdom, omniscience, and blessed grace to God’s people. Remember from whence you came, remember how you have been set apart, recognize the horror and foolishness of idol worship and self-will. And stay vigilant. Beware. See to it. The Lord loves us and intends for us to thrive, but knows well our fickle nature and the errant tendencies of our flesh. (1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 4:15-16)

Seldom do we plan to fall, or make a thoughtful decision to turn away from God or against another. Sin comes insidiously, one small choice at a time. The devil craftily employs his tools of deception and blinding, skillfully distorting mind, perception, and will to conform to his sinister plans. When we fail to take notice and care, we fall to his wiles. Bitterness, pride, and stubbornness grow and spread beneath the surface and break through in rash rebellion, ugly behavior, rancid resentment, and biting words. The only cure is Christ’s mercy and cleansing that extricate our sin and bring a renewed spirit and resolve not to return. (Genesis 3:1-5; Psalm 51:1-2,9-10; John 8:44; James 1:14-15)

What has caused a cold heart toward God? Where and with whom have we turned from benevolence, acceptance, or devotion to bitterness? It’s vital to get at the root of our root! At some point there was a turn from humility and trust at salvation to thinking too highly of ourselves, or too lowly of our sovereign God. Success may have stoked pride that poked its ugly head through gratitude to the Lord and a sober view of self, or a new right asserting its way through mutual peace. Suddenly who someone else is, or how they behave, or a specific thing they do, gets under our skin and sets us to thinking we are superior. Why do we allow these attitudes to take root? It’s vital to guard against destructive roots to avoid spiritual droughts and ensuing trouble inside and out.

Master Gardener, uproot any bitter tentacles that have spread deep and wide in my spirit, and by Your grace, remove their poison. Cause me to grow clean and strong to bear pure fruit in every season.

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