When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, I headed there, and we established teams to help rebuild. All in all, we rebuilt 55 homes and 3 churches. The storm was severe enough, but the slime that was left all over everything, a mix of waste material, garbage, silt, and dead fish, smelled to the heavens and ruined what the storm itself had not. This can happen in our lives after an emotional storm, as well. The Holy Spirit warns us about it in Hebrews.
"looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled" Hebrews 12:15
I shared part of this verse several months ago. I need us to look at this verse deeper to see what happens if we allow hurts to survive in our hearts. There are two things I absolutely hate in the church (in general, not our church specifically) people allowing offenses to live in their hearts and entitlement mentality where people believe they are owed something by God or the church. I see the latter in our part of the country a lot. The former can happen when either we are corrected and refuse the correction or being that all of us are human (even me by the way), and we say or do something, not intending to be offensive, but it comes across that way! The challenge for us as maturing believers is taking our offenses to the cross rather than allowing them to live in us. I hate them because they are sent by the enemy to stop our growth and limit our destiny.
When the phrase "cause trouble" is used, it means to harass, trouble, annoy. It is referencing something that is always eating at you, on your mind. It is the picture of a person, because of an offense, is stuck in the mire of woundedness and offense and cannot grow, receive healing or move past it because they choose to relive it day after day. It just entrenches them deeper and deeper into their own wound, insulating and isolating them the Holy Spirit's influence in their life. This happens because they grieve the Holy Spirit because of unforgiveness. Hurts will happen, but Jesus went to the cross for all of them, and to hang onto them violates the cross.
The word "defiled" means to spot or stain. The Holy Spirit is reminding us that is we do not allow the Lord to heal through our forgiveness, then the very raw emotion related to the offense will eventually bubble out of our mouths onto others, in effect "sliming" them with our bitterness. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" Matthew 12:34.
Here is what happens; someone feels an offense from church leadership, their boss, or extended family member. It overflows, and they begin grumbling in a way that their children hear their bitterness. While the children have had no reason to become bitter, they are "slimed" by the parents, and soon they too are bitter toward their church, their parent's boss, or the extended family member. This effectively not only destroys the original person but their children as well. Ruining the relationship with the persons involved but worse their relationship with the Lord as they are choosing to grieve the Holy Spirit.
We can all find ourselves offended, and we can all offend people. As Christ-followers, we are to be beyond allowing offenses and certainly should be beyond purposely offending others. Paul's focus teaches us an important lesson regarding things like this; he said: "I die daily." Daily he was taking everything to the cross, leaving it all there. God's mercies are new every day for those who walk in mercy; His joy, peace, and love are there for those choose to walk in it.
Ask the Lord if you are allowing bitterness in your life. If so, ask Him to walk you through forgiveness, mercy, and love so you can walk in freedom. You may have bitterness from yesterday or from 40 years ago. Either way, it is grieving the Holy Spirit and limiting your destiny. Choose freedom today! No slime!