I don't know about you, but I've found bitterness is always knocking at the door—people do you wrong, you didn't get the promotion, you came down with an illness. If you hold on to the hurt and dwell on the offense, you open the door to bitterness. When you're bitter, it poisons your attitude to where you see everything in a negative light. You can't enjoy life; there's always something wrong. You won't have good relationships and are easily offended. It's the bitterness coming out. It will pull you down into depression, steal your dreams, and rob you of your joy.
You can't stop life from happening to you, but you can choose how you respond. At the office, a coworker says something that offends you. It starts off as a little seed. If you let it go, nothing will come of it. But if you dwell on it, you'll soon be holding a grudge. Now that little seed is taking root. It starts to grow and before long it will pollute other areas of your life. That's why Hebrews 12:15 warns "that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many."
Notice that bitterness is described as a root. You don't see a root; it's underground, it's hidden. But here's the problem. A bitter root produces bitter fruit. If you have a root of bitterness, it's going to contaminate your life because the root is where the tree gets life. We see the leaves and the branches, but the roots feed the tree. When your roots are healthy, positive and hopeful, that's feeding you life, strength, encouragement and hope. The problem is that if you have bitter roots, you're not being fed the right things. You wonder why you don't have any energy, why you don't laugh anymore, why you don't dream like you used to—it's because those bitter roots are feeding you bitterness, self-pity and anger. That's draining all the life, the energy, the passion out of you. They're feeding you what they are. You can deal with the fruit and try to control your temper, try to love people, try to keep a good attitude, but as long as the root is bitter, it's not going to last.
The good news is you don't have to live with bitter roots. Ask God to show you what's causing you to be bitter. Maybe you need to forgive somebody, or maybe you're still sour over a dream that didn't work out, or maybe you're still beating yourself up over a mistake you made in the past. Be honest with yourself and say, "God, help me to get this root of bitterness out of me. I don't want to live angry and bitter. I want my passion back. I want to love again. I want to laugh again. I want to dream again. God, help me to let it go and move forward."