One of the things about me is both a blessing and a curse. My nose. And before you assume that I am going to talk about the size of my nose, I have a very acute "smeller". Joani learned this early on in our marriage. Sometimes, she would pull something out of the fridge and ask me if I thought it smelled bad. "Just throw it out babe", I would say. "There is no way I'm eating or drinking it now." Just the thought of spoiled food makes me gag. Now the good side of an acute "smeller" is all the wonderful fragrances in life. I get to experience these at a hight level. But the bad smells gross me out for a while.
There are some smells that actually have no scent. The phrase, "Something smells fishy" (unpleasant), comes to mind. These are the "odors" that are often felt more than they are smelt. Sometimes arrogance has an odor to it. Maybe you have smelled something 'off' in a person's motives. Whatever it is, there are smells in our personal character or demeanor that we need to avoid, along with all the unpleasant odors emanating from our physical bodies.
Bitterness is the one 'odors' that can be detected coming off of people. The writer of Hebrews 12:15 said, "See to it that no-one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Two things are self evident here. One, it is possible to miss out on the grace of God. And two, a bitter root can grow. Bitter is usually not associated with something good. The reason we can miss out on the grace of God and that a bitter root can grow within us, is spelled out in the pervious verse. Hebrews 12:14 says, "Make every effort to live in peace with men and to be holy, without holiness no-one will see the Lord." So, not living in peace with people is the main reason for unholy living, missing the grace of God and a bitter root growing within us.
How do we avoid the 'odor' of bitterness? By choosing to live in peace when conflicts with others arise. Skirmishes are bound to happen- no-one can completely avoid them their entire life. And when they do arise, we have a choice to forgive and stay clean or become bitter and start to smell.
As most of you are aware, we (Joani and I, our church staff, and you - God's people) are in a conflict with our former denomination (Foursquare). What they have done has inflicted great harm on all of us. So what are we to do? For starters, if we do not want a bitter root to grow within us, we must walk in forgiveness. We have the right to be upset, even angry, but we do not have the Biblical right to be bitter. God commands us to forgive. I heard it once, that forgiveness is like the beautiful fragrance a flower gives off when it has been trampled and crushed.
Just as forgiveness is essential to keep bitterness from growing in our hearts, is what and how we speak about our hurts or injustices. Isaiah 54:17 says, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper..." If this is true, then how we speak can be a weapon as well. We do not want our tongues to be used as a weapon against anyone, because God promises that it will not prosper.
As a church who follows the Bible, we must bless those who persecute us and not curse - This is pleasing to Jesus!