For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
The Old Testament describes the feast of the Passover very specifically. Part of that feast is the eating of bitter herbs. Obviously this was not dessert, not the sweet treat that one might associate with a feast. Can you imagine asking for someone to pass the bitter herbs? “Oh, mom, you sure did do a good job on these bitter herbs. They’re the best ever.” Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? The eating of the bitter herbs was a treat in a different way. It was a reminder of all that from which God had delivered His people. The time spent in bondage to others was indeed bitter, and God’s delivery from that bondage was truly miraculous. I mean really, that deliverance was literally done through the miraculous works of our Father God.
We have to ask ourselves, is God’s deliverance today any less miraculous? Nothing but God can account for a truly changed life: a changed heart. We can change our behavior often for just a short period of time, but only God can create a new heart (2 Corinthians 5:17). A desire to pursue Him comes from His pursuit of us. We can’t take credit for any part of our deliverance. It is all Him and always will be. So, should we eat bitter herbs as a reminder of His deliverance? Is it a command that God wants us to constantly remind ourselves of what we used to be? The real answer is yes and no.
God has delivered us of our bondage to sin and the lordship of Satan. In fact, the sacrifice of Christ has delivered us from the condemnation of God’s judgment (Romans 8:1). We shouldn’t live in the shame of our past. Through His grace we can truly be free from the shame of the bitterness of our life of sin. So the answer is no.
We are to proclaim the gospel. God’s command to go and spread the gospel and do the discipling work of teaching about His love is very clear (Matthew 28:19). The most effective way we can do this is to tell our story—how God delivered us from not only eternal judgment, but also into His life of absolute freedom. When we tell who we were, how Christ came into our lives, and what He is doing in our lives, we show the reality of Christ. People may argue with the history of the Bible or the existence of God, but they can’t argue our story. Our testimony of Christ shows His love. It might be uncomfortable talking about our past, but the deliverance should always overshadow the life of sin. So the answer is yes.
We can endure the bitterness of sharing our past, because we have the sweetness of His glory. We must continue to focus on Him as the miraculous source of a changed heart and not the shame of our past. If we do this, we don’t even “taste” the bitterness of the herb. We only taste the sweetness of God’s grace through the resurrected Christ.