Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled."
I won't lie. It's very possible that this is going to sting or worse because it cuts across the grain of our emotions.
I knew this lady very well who lived within travelling distance of 3 churches. In other words every Sabbath morning she woke up she had 3 choices of where she could go to church. For a time she went to one of them until something happened between her and another person. Rather than heal the issue she transferred her membership to one of the other churches. She stayed there for some time but eventually another incident occurred that drove a wedge between her and another member. Again rather than work at removing the wedge she removed herself and joined the last of the three churches. You can guess what happened next... eventually she spent her Sabbaths alone.
Some time later a new minister came to care for two of the three churches. In going over the membership list he came to her name but had no idea who she was. He spoke to his churches inquiring about her. Some of the members took him aside and explained the history. He was not discouraged. He determined he would visit her and see if she could be persuaded to return. The members were skeptical to say the least...
He made an appointment and came to her home. She was quick, almost eager to recount blow by blow all the wrongs done to her and all the faults these two churches had done to her that he was now the minister of. Realizing he was unlikely to convince her to come to either of his churches he asked if she had considered going to the 3rd which was close enough but not part of his responsibilities. She rolled her eyes and with renewed passion explained her history of hurts at that church also.
Reeling from onslaught of negativity he asked her one question when she ran out of stories to recount. "Mrs. ________, how will you get along with God's children in heaven if you can't find a way to make peace with them here?"
Her answer was quick as though she'd already considered the dilemma and solved it long before. "Pastor, heaven is going to be a big place."
The earth is tiny compared to heaven but large compared to one individual yet isn't it true that the earth is not large enough to escape our own issues? As an ancient proverb states: Wherever we go, there we are.
That word defiled at the end of verse 15 literally refers to a stain or dye. In working with wood I can assure you that the stain applied in the surface does not stay there. It sinks deep and is virtually impossible to remove. When you dye your hair you are basically left only with the option of growing it out or dying it again if you want to change it.
Bitterness is like cancer. If allowed to remain it never stays in one place, it spreads and spreads until your whole body is affected, stained, defiled.
There is no greater danger to the health of your whole being than a broken relationship. Everything within your power should be done to forgive and heal whatever the wrong was. That is why Jesus said "If you come to worship God and remember on the way that your brother has something against you, stop what you are doing and go first and heal the hurts between you and him and then return to worship God."
It is true that heaven will be a big place but there will be no bitterness in any corner of it. If you refuse to let your bitterness go you will be refused entrance because nothing can enter there that defiles and nothing defiles the soul, destroys relationships, and robs peace like the cancer of bitterness...
Consider His counsel... Today.