1054) No Bitter Root

From a sermon by Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969), former pastor at New York’s Riverside Church:

     How easy it is to grow bitter about life!  Just as on an autumn day walking through a rough country field and coming back covered with nettles, how easy it is to walk through life and accumulate stings!  One knows well that some people here this morning are sorely tempted to bitterness and therefore to mental ill health.

     But as soon as you see the other thing, an unembittered soul– generous, magnanimous, courageous, and full of radiant goodwill– you know that that is healthy-mindedness.

     Consider an illustration.  A century ago a French citizen left to the French Academy a fund which each year furnishes prizes for conspicuous exhibitions of virtue discovered in the French population.  Here is a typical case:  Jeanne Chaix is the eldest of six children.  Her mother is insane and her father is chronically ill.  The family has no more money than the wages Jeanne earns in the factory where she works.  Yet, Jeanne brings up the family and maintains the entire household, which, says the record, “subsists morally, as well as materially, by the sole force of her valiant will.”

     With these few facts, what do you about Jeanne Chaix, standing there to receive her prize from the French Academy?  You know this: she has not grown bitter; life has done hard things to her but she had not been embittered; she is sustained by an undiscourageable goodwill.  She is a healthy-minded girl.

     Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.  Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it.  Bitterness sours life; love sweetens it.  Bitterness sickens life; love heals it.  Bitterness blinds life; love anoints its eyes.


Life can make you bitter or better.  Choose better.



Hebrews 12:15  —  See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God, and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Job 21:25  —  Others have no happiness at all; they live and die with bitter hearts.

Ephesians 4:31-32  —  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


PSALM 42:5-6a:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
  therefore I will remember you, O Lord.