Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it (Heb 12:15-Amplified).
Bitter root strongholds and bitter root expectations are often at the core when we’re having problems in our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with others. When others wrong us, and we hold on to that wrong in the form of unforgiveness and resentment, that event can become a bitter root in our thoughts, and can color future behavior.
Bitter root expectations arise out of bitter thoughts left unchecked in the soul. I have a bitter root expectation when I expect someone now to treat me the way someone in my past treated me. It’s a set up for problems in relationships, and is very common.
Let me show you a very simple instance of how I’ve had to deal with this in my own life. When I was a young boy, my friend and I would plan to meet at a certain place while riding our bikes. My friend would tell me that he would meet me at 3:00 PM at a certain place. I would go there and wait and he didn’t show up. I was early and waited for him for 20 minutes or more, and he never came. This happened several times, and then was repeated by others. I was on time, they were no shows! This really bothered me but I just shrugged it off and forgot it.
Then, as an adult I found myself not trusting people when they would commit to do something for me. I would check on them three or four times when a person made a commitment to do something for me at a certain time. It go to the point that I would rather do something myself than to trust another person to do it for me!
One day the Lord showed me the root of this distrust I had in people in general, and I saw that I had developed a bitter root expectation. I had really harbored unforgiveness towards the friend who constantly let me down. This unforgiveness or bitter root stronghold buried deeply in my underlying thoughts or belief system created in me an expectation that made me think that I just couldn’t trust people. Once I saw it, I prayed and repent for harboring the unforgiveness towards my friend so many years ago.
Once I did this, I found that I was enabled to trust others in a way that I couldn’t before. My deep inner thoughts had been released from the expectation that others would fail me! I was amazed at how quickly this helped me. Now, I rarely think about it. I can trust!
I’ve taken this same principle and dealt with many issues in my life; issues with personal beliefs about myself because of how others treated me in my past; issues with authority figures in my life that let me down; issues with poverty thinking; fear of an early death; fear of sickness and disease, and so many other things.
It’s important that we cleanse our soul from bitter root strongholds and bitter root expectations. One way to do this is to write down the names of people with whom you’ve closely related. Parents, siblings, friends, teachers, coaches, relatives, boyfriends or girlfriends, ex-spouses, pastors, etc. As you think about that person, write down any uncomfortable things that happen between you and that person. Pray and specifically forgive them for anything that they did that brought harm to you.
Once you forgive them and release this to the Lord, make a decision to never allow your mind to go there and dwell on what they did again. In prayer before God you have released them from anything you’ve held against them. I call this itemized forgiveness. Thought by thought, you go before God and purposely release any negative thoughts you have about any person in your past.
This releases you from bitter root thoughts that create negative expectations in your current relationships. This releases you from so much mental and emotional baggage! Forgive on this deeper level and you’ll be free to love and free to bless in your current relationships.