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There was just enough time left for us to see Marshall Dillon and Chester standing over an old man on the ground as the man vehemently declared how much he hated someone. Then he died. As the Marshall and Chester walked away, Chester made some comment and Marshall Dillon said, "Sometimes people hate others so much they become so twisted inside until they can't see the truth anymore."
I thought that was a pretty wise statement, and I'll bet we have all met people like that, people who seem so eaten up with their hate and bitterness that they couldn't see the truth if it crawled all over them. This can be true in regard to spiritual things, political things and personal things.
You see, bitterness starts off as tiny little thing. It doesn't take much at all to get it started, but once rooted, it takes over the whole garden of our hearts. Then it spreads and takes over the whole yard or our minds, and covers the whole house of our being. The roots become huge underneath and almost impossible to destroy.
Bitterness lives on almost nothing -- the slightest thing feeds it into a fury, and it takes great surgery by the Spirit of the Lord to remove it.
As Christians, we must always guard our hearts against the slightest root of bitterness being allowed to harbor in our hearts, for it will crowd out all that is tender and gentle and kind and good in our hearts. We must actively grab that little plant by the roots and tear it out. The temptation of our flesh is to harbor that bitterness, to nurture it. . .after all it is usually caused by someone wounding or slighting us in some way. But we must by faith choose instead to replace that root of bitterness with kindness, forgiveness and tenderheartedness. This is the path of peace.
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;
lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;"
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking,
be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."