Bitterness and Grace – Mandates for citizens of the Kingdom of Light

My daughter lost a cross. The chain on her necklace broke while she was gardening and the tiny cross fell somewhere in the grass or dirt. She searched a long time but gave up hope of ever finding it again.  

For some odd reason, I love searching for things like this—things that are supposedly gone forever, but we know they must be there somewhere. The cross had been gone for weeks and it was barely half an inch long, but I was determined to find it. I suppose I love rising to such challenges.

So I went to her gardens, got down on my knees and started combing through dirt and grass. She gave me this firm warning: “Don’t pull anything! Some of those tiny plants are things I want to save!”

I admit that I also have this compulsion (sometimes) to pull other people’s weeds when I see them poking up obnoxiously in a flower bed. (What? You do, too? 😊)

I thought about pulling weeds in her garden when I read this:

Hebrews 12:15
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.

Wow. Talk about challenges. Here are two for everyone who follows Jesus, is a citizen of His kingdom, and has become a son or daughter of God.

That poisonous root of bitterness. Be vigilant against it. The world today is infested with an unrestrained, particularly aggressive species of bitterness. I’m sad to say that I’ve seen it taking root and cropping up in places it has never before been allowed to flourish—in churches, between neighbors, in families, circles of friends. In my own heart and mind.

How do we pull up those roots of bitterness? It’s growing everywhere in our nation today. But it seems as though anything I might do would be ineffective against the great crop that is growing so rapidly today. How do we “watch out” that it does not overtake our relationships and interactions? 

Here’s the thing: I can’t pull weeds from other people’s gardens. I can only tend the garden of my own heart and mind. That warning to “watch out” is meant for me to heed on a personal level. I’ve got to stomp out this invasive species whenever I find it taking root in my own garden.

But lest we retreat too much to tend only our own backyards and let the world do what it may, read again the first words of Hebrews 12:15: “Look after each other…”

We are to be involved in the lives of others. The NIV wording is even more emphatic in urging us to “see to it that no one misses the grace of God…”  We are to be carriers of God’s grace in this world. We’re to promote the spread of His magnificent grace. That’s the invasive species that every mission-partner of Jesus is to be planting.

When it comes to the bitterness spreading so fast in our world today, we’ve got to weed it out of our own souls. Leave no stray root that will grow up to corrupt. That’s a challenge.

When it comes to the grace of God, though, God’s children are to be a conduit through which it flows out, unhindered and extravagant, to everyone with whom we interact.

Everyone. Because that’s who God wants to reach with His grace. I admit, that’s an even bigger challenge for me.

But this is the mandate for citizens of His kingdom. Talk about rising to the challenge… Will we?  


p.s. Yes. I did find the cross.

Declaring Our Trust

Is there anyone out there who has not felt the tremors of earthquake COVID?

Have you been ill or fearful of sickness? Has this great change in the world affected your job or your business? Or have the heightened emotions and loud opinions shaken your friendships? Have you felt your social support systems falter? Has it strained your family life? Or maybe just the constant string of minor adjustments and irritations is taking a toll—like waiting in line to shop at a store, or wrangling with technology for online meetings, or discovering that for some odd reason your grocer can no longer get Minute Tapioca. You know, the tapioca might have just been the last straw.  

David’s life was battered by constant tumult. He suffered everything from threats to his life, to family hostilities, to terrible personal consequences of his own sins. Yet he was the writer of most of the Scripture we’ve focused on this week—lines of confidence in God’s steadfast love. He had confidence in God as the Rock, the Refuge, the Shelter, the Fortress. David had learned how good the habit was to declare God’s love in the morning and to thank God for His faithfulness in the evening.

David knew this. He had lived it. And as a result, his songs say one more thing: Over and over he declares, “I will trust Your unfailing love. All my hope is in You.” 

I’m adding that to my daily reflections on His love and faithfulness—declaring every day that I will trust Him.

Twelve years ago this month, I quit a long-time job to begin freelancing. I didn’t really have a business plan. I had no clients lined up. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.

But I did have Psalm 32:8: The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”

I believed that was truth and reality. I was depending on it, pinning my future on it. (And I have reminded God often of His promise — not that He needs reminding!)

As we dwell in His shelter, no world-wide disaster can disrupt His love and care. No personal circumstances can rocket us into any sphere where these truths do not stand as firm reality. We can trust His unfailing love.

If you want to add this affirmation to your daily prayers as one more way to dwell in His shelter, David gives us plenty of models. Adapt one of these as your own daily declaration:

  • I trust in your unfailing love. Psalm 13:5
  • Let me hear of your unfailing love in the morning, then show me the way to go, for I trust my life to you. Psalm 143:8
  • Lead me along the best pathway. Advise me. Watch over me. Psalm 32:8
  • Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me purity of heart to honor you. Psalm 86:11
  • Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long, I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:5
  • I am trusting you. You are my God, and my times are in your hands.
    Psalm 31:14, 15

And there are many, many more in the Psalms. I don’t think we’ll be straying too far from His shelter with daily prayers like these.


NOTE: I’ve just seen an advertisement on the Internet for a Bible app called “Dwell.”  I know nothing about it except that the ad says it saturates with Scriptures. You might want to check it out. And if you do and you’d recommend it—or not—let us know. 


This is the last of this week’s morning declarations of His unfailing love. And I have to say, it’s one of my favorites.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down deep into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17

And, as the following verse says, may we all have the power to understand how deep our God’s love for us really is. Amen.