November 19, 2020
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I've eaten a few plums in my life, but I never found it particularly inspiring or educational. But one of our team members ate a plum recently and got an insight that I found enlightening. When she bit into that plum, it tasted very sweet. It didn't stay that way. The closer my friend got to the center, the more bitter the plum tasted. She explained to me her simple, but probably accurate, theory about this bittersweet taste experience. She said what the sun has touched is sweet; what the sun hasn't touched is bitter. And I said, "Hum?"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Difference Between Bitter and Sweet."
I guess, in a way, I'm that plum. You're that plum. We've got parts of our personality, our ways of treating people, our ways of responding to stress that are actually pretty sweet and then there are those parts that are bitter for us and certainly bitter for the people close to us. Once you open your life to Jesus Christ, you have divine power available to help change those harsh, distasteful parts of you into something beautiful. It's part of that miracle 2 Corinthians 5:17 calls becoming "a new creation in Christ."
I can tell you from my own life, the parts of me that are becoming sweeter are the parts of me I have opened up to the "sunlight" of Jesus Christ. And those things about me that I don't like, the people around me don't like, God doesn't like are the areas where I need to more fully open up to Jesus' control.
The people we love, the people around us, the people who are affected by us most would probably be able to provide a pretty good list of the "bitter" parts of our personality and the ways we respond. That's the list that needs to become top priority for surrendering to Jesus Christ. It's a matter of calling the ugly parts of us what they are - no more defending, no more excusing, no more rationalizing, no more blaming. You just say, "Jesus, here it is. Come into this stubborn, sinful, dark part of who I am and shine Your light on it. I can't change it, but I don't want to be this way anymore. Please make me new."
In our word for today from the Word of God, He helps us see some specific attitudes and actions and approaches that are bitter stuff, and then what we can be like if we'll remove the walls around those areas of our life. Colossians 3, beginning with verse 8, says, "Rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator ... Therefore, as God's chosen people ... clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
The powerful reality about belonging to Jesus is that you don't have to keep on being what you've always been; maybe even what generations before you have been. Jesus changes people in ways they could never change themselves. But there may be a reason that your bitter has stayed bitter. Instead of repenting, instead of surrendering it to Jesus, you just keep looking for someone to blame for the way you are. You keep replaying the past, complaining, recruiting sympathy, or retaliating for what others have done. But you're not letting the Son - the Son of God - shine on it. Isn't it time to open up your ugly, dark side to Jesus and to release it completely to Him so He can make you like Him?
There's a Gospel song that says, "The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows." Let's add a verse. "The longer you serve Him, the sweeter you grow."