When we see this verse, oftentimes we search our souls to see if there is any root of bitterness inside us towards others.
This is good – something we should do – but the verse seems to contain so much more. Let's look at it carefully.
Looking diligently episkopeo – means oversee, bishop. It is
close to the word for bishop used in 1 Tim 3:1 and in Titus. The Holy Spirit is telling us to examine carefully, closely guard, stay diligent in this matter. If not, we may fall short of the grace of God, fall short of all that He has for us.
Root means to germinate, to spring up as a small plant. It implies that this starts very small and may become very powerful. And bitterness is bitter hatred. Does this verse imply that it has to be within us? It may be but it also may be bitterness that springs up from someone with whom we are associated and when that happens, it may come as a shock, a
complete surprise. Isn't it interesting that Paul says bishop – overseer – first and then implies that there may be bitterness springing up. Have you ever been surprised by the bitterness that you hear in others, many whom you felt were close to the Lord? And have you ever been surprised by your reaction to that bitterness, that it doesn't go out of your mind, that it gets continually rehearsed in your thoughts? What does that do to our prayer life? It hinders, doesn't it? Do we see how subtle the enemy can be. He will do anything to hinder our prayer life, our growth in the Lord. He wants to discourage us from
continuing on in ministry. He wants us to close off ourselves to others. Now comes the word trouble. It means to crowd in, annoy. Wow! Then he finishes the verse by many be defiled – contaminated, stained.
Matthew 24:12 Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. This is a warning to not let what is happening around us, turn our love cold. The saints that have gone before us have lived through terrible times but they steadfastly looked to Jesus and did not let their hearts be troubled. I have observed that many people who are in cults become hard. They have strayed from the gospel and I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy... Ecc 8:10. So if
we associate with them, their bitterness may come off onto us. Does this mean we are not to evangelize? Of course not! We have a special anointing when evangelizing that the Lord gives so that we can brush the dust off ourselves if dealing with wickedness and not let the wickedness contaminate us.
Previous to this verse is Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. So he
may be telling us how we may lose our peace and holiness. It is a warning to us who wish to become all that the Lord has us to be.
Lord, please teach me how to be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove.
Submited by Mary Cullinane