Christians aren’t immune to battling bitterness

REPOSTED from 2008 – A pertinent self-reminder, after also being “ripped off” that there are better options than bitterness. This is the first of 3 posts on the topic of forgiveness.


Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 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; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” Hebrews 12:14-17

Contrasted with the great “cloud of witnesses” mentioned throughout Chapter 11, Esau represents the antithesis of faith. Each person mentioned in Chapter 11 knew to approach God in faith realising that it was otherwise impossible to please God. Esau, rejected God out of anger and bitterness, and result was a life of waste and regret.

It started with a dumb decision prompted by tiredness and exhaustion. In the field at the point of complete exhaustion and hunger he begs his deceitful conniving brother to give him some food. In exchange, Jacob rips him off by stealing his inheritance rights, giving Esau the modern equivalent of a cold Junior Burger. Jacob of course follows through with his coup (with his mother’s help) and deceives Isaac into conferring the full inheritance.

Esau’s reaction: anger towards his brother for deceiving him, anger towards his mother for helping Jacob, anger towards his father for not detecting the rort and ultimately anger towards God for not overriding the result of his mistake and stupidity.

Esau’s response: is to dwell continually on the mistreatment (forgetting it was his own fault that started the chain of events) and he became bitter. Turning to a life of immorality and unholiness he is no different to the teenager who takes to drugs, illicit lifestyle, mutilation or suicide. They engage in destructive behaviour, isolate themselves and spiral into an unrecoverable despair.

Forgiveness is the vaccine to prevent the “root of bitterness”.

First there must be the forgiveness of God through Christ – made possible by Christ dying for our sins and overcoming the ultimate despair and defeat proffered by Satan.

Second there must be the forgiveness of others. Bitterness is better prevented than recovered from as Hebrews 12 indicates – see to it that you don’t fail to obtain the grace of God and become defiled by the root of bitterness.

The grace of God only comes through Christ – thus our final remedy, restoration and redemption is through him. Education and counselling is helpful and can identify the symptoms or perhaps the cause event(s) of bitterness and they can help begin healing – Jesus can inspire and provide complete redemption. This prompts the author of Hebrews to say in Hebrews 12:3 – “Consider Christ”, he who endured the ultimate hostility was able to say from the cross, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Christmas or Xmas

English: Christmas postcard picture with Santa...
English: Christmas postcard picture with Santa Claus and holly, with message, “I bring you a Merry Xmas from” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


courtesy of “Theological Word of The Day


The annual holiday celebrated by Christians on December 25 celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was born somewhere between 7 and 2 BC. Dec. 25 is probably not the date when Christ was born, but was designated as such in the 4th century in order to substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. The designation Christmas comes from a combination of “Christ” with “Mass.” Often the Greek X (Chi) is substituted for “Christ” making Xmas (as was the custom in the early church when abbreviated Christ’s name). Although there is no command in Scripture to celebrate this day as a holiday, Christians believe the incarnation is the foundation to salvation and, according to many, the greatest miracle in the history of man.


So, Merry Xmas to all 🙂


St Patrick the (almost) Protestant Missionary

I am a servant of Christ to a foreign nation for the unspeakable glory of life everlasting which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Patrick

Would you believe the original St Patrick was British, not Irish?! Patty was also a bit of a maverick when it came to methodology and practice – according to Mark Driscoll. I wonder how those that have a slightly pietistic view of St Patrick would receive his like today?

Saint Patrick is not even a saint, as he was never canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, Patrick was not even Irish. Rather, he was a Roman-Britain who spoke Latin and a bit of Welsh.

Patrick’s unorthodox ministry methods, which had brought so much fruit among the Irish, also brought much opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. Because Patrick was so far removed from Roman civilization and church polity he was seen by some as an instigator of unwelcome changes. This led to great conflicts between the Roman and Celtic Christians. The Celtic Christians had their own calendar and celebrated Easter a week earlier than their Roman counterparts. Additionally, the Roman monks shaved only the hair on the top of their head, whereas the Celtic monks shaved all of their hair except their long locks which began around the bottom of their head as a funky monk mullet. The Romans considered these and other variations by the Celtic Christian leaders to be acts of insubordination. In the end, the Roman Church should have learned from Patrick, who is one of the greatest missionaries who has ever lived. Though Patrick’s pastors and churches looked different in method, they were very orthodox in their theology and radically committed to such things as Scripture and the Trinity.

Thanks to The Resurgence team for putting together this post and others in their Vintage Saints series.

NB: This does say Patrick is a Protestant. I use this term in it’s purest sense, not in the sense that he was a child of the Protestant Reformation. He was, rather orthodox, bible & gospel focused in his message, methods and ministry – which for all intended purposes makes him more “protestant” than many today who are not part of Roman Catholicism.

I had originally titled the post as “St Patrick the Protestant Missionary” – while Patrick was a proto-type of the later protestants, to call him such is anachronistic and, technically wrong. Nevertheless, we could use more of his kind today. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

What is wrong shall be undone

Following my note about Where did we go wrong, I leave you stuck in the mire if I stop there.

Having looked in the mirror, we have seen the enemy and it occurs that Walt Kelly was right, at least about that. So what? That knowledge does not help or heal in itself. (Aside: this is one of the key elements of the serpents initial deception – taking and eating the fruit will bring a certain knowledge, but not the kind we thought. Rather the kind that overwhelms us with our inadequacy and drives us to compensate. Whether we do that through denial, anger, guilt or imitation and cover up is, in the end, self defeating.)

The consequence of all sin, original, occasional, habitual, natural or otherwise is death. Death not just being the absence of life, or rather the absence of physical experience via my five senses. Death is the opposite of life and life is much more than taste, touch, see, hear and smell. I’ll gladly point you again to Phillip’s ‘The World Tilting Gospel‘:

People in hell exist forever, but I can’t think of any passages that refer to their existence as “life.”

Instead, as he mentions in the footnote, it is called the second death.

The conquest of sin though is promised and provided through its destruction. The first Adam brought it in and the last Adam will take it out.

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. ~ Romans 5:19

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

In the midst of God’s judgment against Adam’s sin he promises salvation – the undoing of our sin. There will be salvation through the death of a substitute and a promise of a redeemer. It is, at first, pictured tangibly when an animal is killed so that they can have clothing to protect them both from the environment and from the constant confrontation of the shame and guilt of their sin.

It is, ultimately to come through the birth of another “Adam” one who will both do what Adam did not and not do what Adam did and be victorious on all accounts. He will speak words of life, crush the serpent’s head and inaugurate the kingdom of God. Christ Alone is The True / Last Prophet, Priest & King.

Will you continue as Adam did, followed by his son Cain to constantly try to seize what God offers freely?

Will you rely on a false covering, and try to hide your sin from God through religious behaviour or moral behaviour or living the life of a so-called good person? Always be inadequate because you will always be acting independently of God?

Or, would you accept new life, be born again as Jesus once described it and die to your self, die to your schemes and plans, die to all those silly pathetic attempts you make at saving face before others and realise that God, as the author of life, is the only one who can give you life.

Don’t define your life in terms of existence or in terms of possessions or in terms of achievement.

Define your life, by experiencing life as it was meant to be, in the fullness of joy through Jesus alone.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. ~ 1 John 5:11-12

But, when shall these things be? Ah, that is for another post, in the interim, have confidence that:

if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Are you in Christ?