Short & Sweet: Bitterness or Betterness?

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Bitterness or Betterness?

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”

Matthew 12:34b-35


When I was little, I was fascinated by treasure and treasure maps. I loved reading books about buried fortunes (Nancy Drew and The Quest of the Missing Map was a favorite). How exciting to follow a parchment map to the foot of a tree, and with spade in hand unearth a treasure.

Buried. Beautiful. Valuable.


X marks the spot.


Treasure is a key word in Mathew 6:35. In the original Greek it transliterates as thesauros, which means a place to collect things and the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up. Interestingly, thesaurus also means a casket. Think for a moment.

A container for good, precious things or a casket for dead, lifeless things.


In my living room I have a cedar chest, a place where I collect precious things. It holds treasures of the past. Corsages … diplomas … love letters … a wedding bouquet … baby booties … scribbly pictures … handmade Mother’s Day cards … funny little birthday presents from funny little sons.


Why do I store mementos in my cedar chest? So I can remember; so I can relive again and yet again the beautiful memories my keepsakes invoke. As I hold a treasure in my hands, it continues to move and change me, to mold my soul.


The heart is like a cedar chest—a place to collect things. We decide what to fill it with. Good things. Lovely things. Beautiful things. But, we can choose to fill the heart with bitter things, reliving them over and over, wounding ourselves afresh with every remembrance, shredding our heart and shattering our soul. Bitter memories will also continue to change and mold us.


It seems then we have a choice.


What shall we store in the heart? At times we choose bitterness. Why?

I prayed for insight and an answer came clearly to my mind. We treasure bitterness because we feel something is owed to us, something feels unfinished.


But, when Jesus said, “It is finished,” bitterness died on the cross. It was never meant to be stored in the heart to taint and poison. Give bitter memories to Jesus and trust Him to use them for good. Then, fill your heart with His life-giving Word. Hide it deep in the soil of your heart. His Word becomes buried treasure.

Precious. Beautiful. Valuable.


The Cross marks the spot.


A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” Matthew 12:35


The choice is yours.


Action Points:

  1. Ask God to search your heart and remove any bitterness lurking there. He promises to remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
  2. Check your heart by examining your tongue. What are you saying? Are you speaking words of life into your relationships, challenges and trials or words of bitterness and death? “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
  3. Pray the Word. Find scriptures that address your current challenges and pray them into your life. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” Joshua 1:8


By Mary Kane

copyright 2016

all rights reserved

Holy Week Devotions-Tuesday: Bitterness to Forgiveness

ID-10057612[1]“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)

Today is the second day of our Holy Week series, and the stanza of the poem that is our focus is the following:

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

(Click here for the complete poem. Here is the first day of the series on Judging.)

Imagine sitting down on a hot summer day to a bowl full of frosty, juicy, crisp grapes that burst in your mouth with… bitterness. Can you imagine how awful that would taste? Bitterness leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. According to Hebrews 12:15, we are to guard against bitterness because one bitter heart can defile and trouble many people. Bitterness is a sign of unforgiveness. In the original Greek, bitterness means “extreme wickedness, hatred, virulence and harshness.”  And as the Bible verse suggests, if left untended, bitterness will root and grow and produce a harvest of destruction. It’s true in our lives that a bitter root yields a bitter fruit.

The word bitter when traced back  to its origin means “to fasten, to fasten something together, to construct something by fastening it together.” So if we are bitter against a person in a literal sense by withholding forgiveness, we are fastening that person to us and dragging them with us wherever we may go! Do you see now one of the reasons why bitterness is so destructive? We are forever tying ourselves to that very thing we are bitter about, which is preventing us from healing. As Joyce Meyer says, “You may have a reason to be bitter, but by the word of God, you do not have a right.”

What is the antidote then for bitterness? Forgiveness. Forgiveness means to release someone from prison or from bondage. Forgiving28023ygngw1nics someone does not mean that what they did to us is okay; it means we are releasing them from our own vengeance and giving them over to God. Sometimes the one we may be bitter against and need to release from bondage is ourself.  This Easter let us pray and ask God to help make us willing to lay aside our bitterness and trade it in for forgiveness. Let’s set a few captives free. That’s what Easter is all about, isn’t it?

Application: So during this Holy Week, what is it that you need to leave at the feet of the cross? Who or what are you bitter against that you need to let go, that you need to forgive? Let the first captive that’s set free be you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, it can be difficult releasing bitterness. That heavy thing we’re dragging around feels normal after a while. Help us to let go, release, and forgive so that we can experience the joy and lightness of living in forgiveness and freedom. Amen.

Image courtesy of domdeen / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: markuso / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Anna’s Place in the Christmas Story


“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36-38

Focus: Hope

These short three verses in the Bible hold out much hope for us. Here is a woman who was married for only seven years when her husband died. Rather than living in misery and despondency, Anna chose instead to live a life to glorify God. She walked so closely with God that when Mary and Joseph arrived in the temple to present the baby Jesus, Anna recognized Jesus as the redemption of Jerusalem. She had the privilege of looking upon the Savior and knowing Him.

I can only wonder how many people’s lives Anna touched. How many young mothers and widows might she have encouraged in her lifetime because of her close walk with her God?

During this time of Advent, take some time to reflect on a disappointment or life change you may have suffered. How are you handling this? Are you allowing God to use this in your life, or have you become bitter over it?  Pray and ask Him to open your spiritual eyes, as He did Anna’s and look for ways that God can use this disappointment for good.

Prayer: Dear Lord,

We pray for the spiritual eyes to see how you can use our disappointments, life changes and even tragedies to bring about good. Help us to trust you to bring a blessing out of them, and make us wiling to be used. Amen.

Pray on!