I alluded to this truth in the last post, so this is kind of an elaboration of that one point, with a Biblical example to illustrate. But I came to this truth because in my garden, there was one patch of weeds so entangled with some healthy flowering plants, that the flowers got mutilated as I tried to wrangle the weeds out from among them. I kept breaking their fragile stems, and as gently as I tried to work, the flower petals kept dropping off as I would try to get around them. It was so frustrating for me to accidentally and repeatedly injure the healthy guys just to remove the weeds! Granted, it was my own fault for waiting until the weeds had such a presence, but still it was painful to see the damage I was doing.
Anger, resentment, and bitterness are weeds often left unattended. By the time you're in the fourth chapter of Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, God addresses this very thing. Cain had this problem - he had a weed of bitterness sprout up in his heart against his brother. Look at the amazing advice God gives him, "Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it," (Genesis 4:6-7). My translation is, "You must uproot that weed." We know that Cain did not. He let his resentment grow, surely watered by the enemy's lies. In the very next verse, Cain proves he has no mastery of his anger, opens the door to sin, and finally chooses to kill his brother.
Now, none of us will likely take any emotion that far, so it's tempting to distance ourselves from the story. However, the Lord's words are chilling to me; that sin is "crouching at my door" and "desires to have me" are universal facts that honestly scare me straight. I don't want to be "had." I want to choose what I do with my emotions, not let them navigate me.
You and I are both familiar with the fallout when anger is left unkempt. We know who we become when our words are being spoken through a filter of bitterness as well. We've all dished it out, and no doubt taken it too. Let's just agree right now that for the sake of the much loved people around us, there is no better course of action than to pluck out the weeds of anger and bitterness as soon as they break the surface. If your emotions run deep and the weed is already overgrown, if you can no longer just pluck it out cleanly, then the ultimate Gardener would love to help. He'll uproot the weed and heal that spot little by little, in gentleness and love.
The Bible directs us to one more way to combat these weeds: dependence on one another. I love the beginning of this verse:
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
Isn't this verse well put? Take care of each other. Be attentive to the potential of these weeds in your friends' hearts. In love, help them prevent damaging others with out of control emotions. It reminds me how grateful I am for those who look after me. Thank you, friends. What would we do without each other? Well, we'd have really ugly gardens, for starters.