Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

What Is a Bitter-Root Judgement and How Can You Break Free from It?

  • Nan Brown Self
  • 2018 2 Jul
What Is a Bitter-Root Judgement and How Can You Break Free from It?

In relation to forgiving others, two of the most important people who you can forgive are your mother and father. A bitter-root judgment is a judgment that a person makes at some time during their childhood against his or her father, mother, or caregiver. Many times, it is a subconscious judgment rather than a conscious one. It goes down deep into his or her heart, mind and spirit.

A root of bitterness comes from unforgiveness and can lead to resentment that defiles others. It comes from failing to secure God’s grace to forgive. As Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled . . .” (NASB)

These judgments are rooted in the past and can influence your present and future. Then, because of the law of sowing and reaping and the law of judgment, the one who judges at some point in his life sentences himself to do the very thing that he judged in his parents. Romans 2:1-2 says, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.” (NKJV)

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God Wants Us to Honor, Not Judge Parents

God Wants Us to Honor, Not Judge Parents

God has given us many laws throughout the Bible that influence our lives profoundly. Three of His laws affect all of us. One of the laws in the Ten Commandments says, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16 AMPC). God wants us to honor our parents, not judge them. If we honor our parents, our lives will be long, and life will go well with us. This is a command with a promise.

The second law of judgment states that we will receive judgment or experience difficulty in the same areas of life where we have judged others. Matthew 7:1-2 says, ”Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you use to deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.” (AMPC)

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Honoring Accepts Their Humanity

Honoring Accepts Their Humanity

The third law is that we will surely reap what we sow. Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (NASB)

To honor our parents is to esteem, respect, and value them as precious. God wants us to honor our parents but not to judge them. If we judge them, we condemn them. The command to honor your mother and father is a command that is written throughout the Bible. It is not an option. Judging your mother or your father blames them for being human and less than perfect. To honor them, on the other hand, accepts their humanity. It treats them with respect while obeying them.

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Identifying Bitter-Roots

Identifying Bitter-Roots

Look for patterns or habits that you are aware of in your own life that have brought you fear, doubt, rejection, heartache, jealousy or anger. These patterns may be from judgments that you have made against your mother or father. Notice situations where you repeat the same behavior over and over.

The first time that I made a list of my bitter-root judgments against my parents, it took me three weeks. I was reluctant to make the list because I felt that making the list was disloyal. However, I was not looking for my bitter-roots in order to judge my parents. I was looking for my roots in order to take responsibility for my sinful judgments. 

You may have difficulty seeing your bitter-root judgments. Pray and ask God to reveal the judgments that you have made against your parents. Make a list of your bitter-roots. It may take some time. God will reveal what you need to know when you need to know it.

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Focus on Habits or Patterns

Focus on Habits or Patterns

As you look at your list of bitter-root judgments, focus on habits or patterns that you have noticed that have repeatedly brought you frustration, heartache or grief. Do you repeat patterns of behavior that are damaging to you or others? How many times have you confessed your sinful behavior to God and asked forgiveness for your sin?  Do you continue to repeat the behavior no matter how much you confess it and pray to be set free from it?

Some examples of bitter-roots that can indicate judgment toward your parents include: perfectionism, addictions, critical spirit, emotionally unavailable, hostility, manipulation, working continually, rejection, uncontrolled anger or rage, bitterness, rejection or performance orientation. The order of the nine steps to cancel a bitterroot judgment is listed below.

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How Do You Cancel a Bitter-Root Judgment?

How Do You Cancel a Bitter-Root Judgment?

1.     Confess your bitter-root judgment. Name whom you judged and what you judged them for.
2.     Pray for forgiveness, forgive yourself, and repent and renounce your sin, which means to fall out of agreement with it.
3.     Ask God to nail your sin of judgment to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
4.     Allow yourself to grieve any feelings of pain or loss and release them to God.
5.     Ask God to remove any unforgiveness or other sins from your heart and replace them with the opposite of those sins.
6.     Ask God to give you a new heart by faith. (Ezekiel 36:26)
7.     Ask God to meet the needs that were not met in you as a child. Some of the basic needs for adults and children are unconditional love, acceptance, worth and value, security, recognition, nurture and emotional nourishment and comfort.
8.     Ask God to show you how this bitter root has affected your relationships with others. Pray for God to heal those relationships.
9.     Thank Him for your answered prayers. (Philippians 4:6

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Breaking the Power of Bitter-Root Judgements

Breaking the Power of Bitter-Root Judgements

As you work through the nine steps to cancel a bitter-root judgment, you are letting go of the past and asking God to lay the axe to the roots of your bitter judgments. Matthew 3:10 says, “And already the axe of God’s judgment is swinging toward the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (AMP)

What are some of the benefits of breaking the power of bitter-root judgments in your life and the lives of your family members? A few of the benefits are love, joy, peace, freedom, forgiveness, grace, mercy and possibilities for restoration and new beginnings.

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Forgiving through the Generations

Forgiving through the Generations

Finally, many blessings and advantages come from forgiving through the generations. You can help restore broken relationships in your family. You can repair the destruction of many generations. You can help heal some of the wounds of your family. As you confess and repent of your sins, you are able to break the chains of past generations. Freedom from the chains of the past will allow you and your family to live in the present and look forward to the future. Be part of rebuilding the relationships that were ruined through the judgments and sins in your family. Isaiah 61:4 says:  “Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations; And they will repair the ruined cities,The desolations of many generations.” (NASB)

Forgiveness is the gift of grace from the heart of Jesus. He carried your sins to the cross and bore the pain of those sins so that you might be pardoned from their binding power and consequences. Through His grace, you receive a release from sin that you have not earned or deserved. In order to receive this gift, accept His forgiving grace.


Nan Brown Self is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist. She is a former member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and has counseled families, individuals and children for over 10 years. She has a BA degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Master of Education degree from the University of North Texas at Denton.  Nan and her husband live in Texas. For more information visitwww.ForgivenessByGrace.com

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