THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
—Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)
As we see in Hebrews chapter twelve, once we “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,” we will be aware of how we should then live. The writer now turns to the issue of a growing root of bitterness which defiles and causes trouble and disunity.
A group of believers in rural Hubei Province in China came to Christ as a result of listening to Christian radio programs. When a local woman was healed of appendicitis after prayer, two whole families converted to the way of Jesus enlarging their group to twenty. Five years later a Brother Chen arrived in the village on a sunny spring day. One believer shares this report:
Some said Brother Chen was “sent straight from God to our company.” He said so too. Looking back over a year later, I think he was Satan’s man. But who knows, I may be harsh in my judgment. I remember that night so clearly. We were all gathered at my father’s house. The gas lamp flickered strange shapes against the whitewashed walls, on which we had stenciled “JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.”
I remember Brother Chen saying, “Jesus needs our gold to build our mansion in heaven…the more gold we give him now, the bigger your mansion will be.”
Well, we were poor. And because we were poor, the idea of having a golden mansion in the afterlife was very tempting to us. We handed over all we owned: family heirlooms, money, some expensive textiles from a distant ancestor. One in our group even gave his motorcycle, which he had saved for years to buy. Anyway, after all the “gold” had been collected, Brother Chen said he had to go and “open the gate for us.” He left, on the donated motorcycle. He took most of our savings. He hasn’t been back.
Now the fellowship is ruined. Some of our group believes he is coming back and was indeed sent by God to help us know Jesus better. Others of us believe he was a deceiver. It has split my family. My father thinks Chen was a good man. The rest of the family thinks differently, but we dare not disagree with my father openly.
We still can’t read the Bible very well. We really don’t know that much about Jesus, to be honest. We know he has saved us, and healed a family member. But we know little else. Brother Chen’s deceit has made me bitter.
RESPONSE: Today I will not allow Satan to grow a root of bitterness in my life or in my fellowship.
PRAYER: Lord, help new believers around the world to recognize Satan’s tactics and the bitter root that will keep them in bondage.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.