“Time grows the seeds that are planted, watered, and fertilized. Plant beauty, grow beauty. Plant thorns, grow thorns. Time will allow for either.”

-Lysa TerKeurst

I have a lot of thorns in my life that I’ve let grown. Whether a broken friendship, relationship, or just feeling as if somebody has done me wrong, there are a lot of sources in my life that lead to me clinging to bitterness. I could be the Queen of some dark, bitter world.

When the grace of Jesus broke into my heart, my life drastically changed. Yet, I still clung to bitterness in some areas of my life, toward some people. I haven’t just grown my thorns; I’ve hidden them in dark corners of my heart where they could grow unhindered, watered them, and visited them when I thought nobody was watching.

Bitterness grown in secrecy isn’t any better than bitterness that comes from my mouth; the former feeds the latter, and can be even more dangerous because those around me aren’t necessarily able to see it and bring that darkness and sin in my life to the light.

Yet, even when no one else sees, Jesus does. He sees these thorns rooting themselves into my heart. He sees them killing my love and kindness.

I was reading 1 John 2, and verses 9-11 were a blow to my heart in an entirely new way:

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

Friends, we have a choice. We can choose to live this life blinded, bitter, and in the dark. God knows I have. We can hang onto this bitterness, grow our thorns, and let ourselves be blinded and poisoned; it may feel good and help things feel made right for a brief moment, but the joy of our self-righteous bitterness is fleeting.

Our second option, however, is grace that leads to love. It’s easy to love those who love you back, as the Bible has explained time and time again. But those who hurt you? Who harm those you love? Who attack you and belittle you and make you feel small?

That’s a whole new type of hard.

Yet, it’s so worth it. Yes-grace stings. When you start to choose to love someone in the grace Jesus has given you rather than hating them out of your hurt, it’s like cleaning out a wound. It hurts, you want to cry, and you may feel worse before you feel better. In the end though, the dirt gets cleaned out, you heal, and you can function in a place of wholeness once more.

Folks, I’m not writing this from a place condemning the bitterness that causes us to act out of hurt. I’m writing from a place of knowing how simple it is to do that, a heart of confession because I so frequently sin over and over again by choosing that option. If you’ve been consumed by bitterness, stumbling in the darkness, take heart! It’s not too late, and though grace may sting, it will draw you closer to Jesus and allow you to experience the joy of loving someone when it would make sense to hate them instead.

Let’s choose love this week friends. Let’s stop stumbling around in the dark when we can walk joyfully and unhindered in the light.

(PC: Les Chatfield)

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