In 1863, a fight broke our between the Hatfields and McCoys–two families living near the Big Sandy River in West Virginia and Kentucky. They fought for 35 years! By the time the feud ended in 1901, they had killed 12 members of the two families. That feud demonstrates what bitterness can do. It is no doubt one reason the Bible tells us to avoid bitterness. Writing to God’s people, the author of Hebrews 12 says, “Take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet, so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Someone has said, “A bitter root comes when we allow disappointment to grow into resentment, or when we nurse grudges over past hurts. Bitterness brings with it jealousy, dissension, and immorality.” We live in an age in which many people feel they are entitled to what they want. If they don’t get it, they can become bitter. God calls us to resist self-centeredness and bitterness, and to treat others as we want them to treat us.
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