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The Root of Bitterness

The garden of every marriage will be attacked from time to time by “weeds” of unmet expectations that create bitterness and resentment.

The Bible warns us about the need to avoid the “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15), and as with those stubborn additions to your lawn or flower bed, there’s no use in snapping off a few leaves or getting at half the stem.

Every spouse wants to make his or her partner happy, so it’s natural and good to want to meet their expectations or satisfy felt needs. But we should be careful not to be getting only half the weed, by not paying enough attention to the heart behind these issues.

For many of us, it’s all too easy to judge our spouse’s affection and love for us based on their performance—where we get to set the standard at any given moment. Simply put, we’ve forgotten to apply the gospel of grace to our own marriages! We’ve chosen instead the law, which actually disguises a persistent and deep paranoia, fear and insecurity that our spouse is ready and willing to break their covenant pledge to us. This distrust is like sowing salt … no amount of fertile ground can withstand it!

As in our relationships with Christ, the only way to fight this ugly root in our marriages is to cling in faith to grace and God’s promises to us. 

Realize your spouse is a “failure” as we all are, short of heaven. And every failure—no matter whether it is carelessness or serious, unrepentant sin in word, thought and deed—is actually an opportunity for the grace of Christ to flow to them through you, and ultimately back to you.

When we trust Jesus enough that we can believe He gave us the right spouse and we have the faith to believe that the Holy Spirit is working on our behalf in every situation, we uproot what Satan sows for evil.

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