What happens when you or someone you’re close to notices negative patterns of behaviour operating in your life? These negative patterns or bitter fruits can destroy relationships with others and with God. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) says: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ Once you profess Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, He places the fruit of the Spirit within you. Many of the things we do on a daily basis are impossible to accomplish on our own. But when we operate in the Spirit, we have an incomprehensible ability to overcome whatever the enemy (satan) has in store for us.
Roots that are practised, hidden and automatic usually develop at an early age. Good roots result from drinking nourishment from God and others. If your roots are bitter, you drink poison from your own bitterness. These are strongholds in our lives or sinful reactions to hurt.
Bitter fruits within us are NOT produced as a result of the sins others have committed against us; rather, they are a result of our own sinful reactions to those sins. Bitter roots can also defile others by tempting them to react sinfully to our judgments.
God’s law of sowing and reaping may produce bitter fruits if we are not in alignment with His will, or if we are subjected to (and affected by) the disobedience of others. An example is in childhood, when one can judge a parent for a real or perceived wound. We might even forget that we judged, but a seed is sown, which grows quietly until the right conditions arise resulting in bitter fruit either displayed outwardly or in thought. When we hear the word ‘judge’, most of us think about judging our peers for their thoughts or behaviours. Many of us do not realise, however, that judging a parent can cause serious damage to our spiritual life. Deuteronomy 5:16 says: ‘Honour your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long, and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord God is giving you.’ So, based on that Scripture, you will reap what you have sown in response to judging your mother or father.
We all judge sometimes if not most of the time. But the Scripture teaches us not to judge in a condemning way. Matthew 7:1-2 says: ’Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.’ Bitter seeds can and will spring up and defile others when we least expect it. Once we develop these bitter roots, we expect the worst from others, tempting them to fulfil our negative beliefs about the way things will go. When others give in to temptation and do what we expect them to do, our expectations are confirmed.
Our expectancies resist change – even when others don’t confirm them. It’s not enough for you to say that you’ll just change your way of thinking or your negative behaviour; this alone will not satisfy the law of sowing and reaping. Change can only happen by dealing with the bitter roots that produce those bitter fruits. You have to be able to discern root issues to allow true healing to take place.
Although Christ has fully accomplished our death on the Cross, our flesh refuses to accept death, and bitterness will spring back to life as indicated in Hebrews 12:15.
As Christians, we tend to press on with behaviour management, as opposed to renewing the mind and receiving a new heart, which naturally changes behaviour. We try to forget ‘what lies behind’ (Philippians 3:13), but we have to allow the Holy Spirit to search the innermost parts of the heart in order to allow Jesus to put deeply ingrained attitudes behind us through His Cross.
Let’s put anger, malice, wrath, slander and other bitter fruits on the Cross to die. Sanctification (setting oneself apart for God) is a process we have to grow into. Inner healing facilitates that process, and calls us to complete wholeness. Seek out a Christian who ministers in inner healing, who can facilitate that process for you and counsel you to better health. The goal is to reconcile relationships and find your God-intended purpose.
Denyse H Turner, LHD, MPH, MA, ACC, is a public speaker and Christian family counsellor and Inner Healing minister. For more information, visit First Lady Ministries at www.firstladyministries.org.
(This article was originally published in ‘Better Magazine – Spiritual Living for Better Health’ (Special Edition 2017.)