Gracekillers: Bitterness

Bitterness 

Daily Reading: (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.”

How do we make sure that no bitter root grows up in us? Because what this verse is telling us is that a bitter root will cause trouble not just for the individual that it grows from, it will also negatively impact many.

The answer to this question and also how do we “see to it that o one falls short of the grace of God”, is in the text. We just have to break it down and I am excited to do that with you today.

“See to it” in the Greek means to look upon or be aware “that no one falls short of the grace of God”. This is a message for church leaders that those who are saved might continue and not fail to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What makes bitter roots grow from a person’s life is trying to live under the Law. We will see this as we progress in the text. In fact, someone who tries to live under the Law will cause trouble and defile many by trying to get others to do the same. The word defile is a word picture (miainō): to stain. It is like taking a single drop of ink and letting it go into a bucket of water. You cannot mix grace with the law.

This is why Paul wrote to the Galatians: “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

So how do we make sure individuals don’t fall short of the grace of God?  Another way to say it is, “how do you spot a counterfeit?”  You know what experts in currency do so they can detect a counterfeit bill,they study the original. They know the original so well, that they can easily spot when something is not supposed to be there.

One year I was gardening and I had planted a lot of new perennial flowers.  The next year when the perennials started to return, I didn’t know what the original was supposed to look like. So, I faithfully was watering one plant that was actually a giant weed. Thanks to a gardening friend, I was told I was cultivating a weed. Long before someone becomes bitter, that person fell short of the grace of God. That is why the example of a root and growing up is such a marvelous illustration for us. If you don’t receive the grace God gives through Jesus Christ, then the seed is set for the root of bitterness to grow. 

How do people fall short from the grace of God?  

When you fall from grace, Christ becomes of no effect.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). This is not a threat but describing a fact. And when the New Testament writers exhort us to “be holy,” they are calling us to live out our true Christ-borne identity. When Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), the word for “perfect” means complete or full grown. He was calling us to the life that is His.” But there is more in the progression of the text that will take us to an Old Testament figure in the Bible.

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son” (Hebrews 12:16).

We have a contrast of what receiving grace produces versus what it looks like for a person who lives apart from grace.

  • The person develops a deep-rooted issue with bitterness
  • The person is challenged in the area of sexual immorality, e.g. lust, porn addictions, affairs.
  • Their speech is profane.

Whereas the grace of God produces:

  • Peace with all men
  • Holiness which is wholeness, health in soul, body, mind.

How do you know you have fallen short of grace?

You are law-conscious meaning performance-conscious. The story of the prodigal son teaches us that as soon as we turn back to grace (Luke 15:24), we become “a full-grown son with privileges,” able to access the abundant life that God has prepared for us.

Whenever life’s demands flood your mind, see Jesus’ supply of grace upon grace instead. Receive all that you need from Him.

Peace With All Men

Peace with all men

Daily Reading: (Hebrews 12:14):

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

If we already have peace given to us by Jesus, why should we then have to seek or pursue it? In a perfect world (heaven) we won’t but we live in a fallen world that has been marred by sin. There are people who do not know the Lord’s peace and there are others who have it but don’t live in it.

Did you know that before the Fall of Man there was peace in the world?  The Bible offers a glimpse of how restoration in Jesus’ kingdom will once again restore peace.

There will be a full restoration of Eden that was lost with sin (Revelation 22). Adam’s disobedience overthrew the order of things. But Christ will bring back everything to its condition and order.

Hebrews 12:14: NASB: “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”

“Pursue [(diōkō) seek after eagerly, pursue] peace with all men”. What this tells us is that peace with each other is not an absolute like it is with our peace with God.

So to begin with we need to strive for peace with all people.  But there is a second instruction in Hebrews 12:14 as well- “And the sanctification”

The question that comes is what does sanctification have to do with pursuing peace with all men?

What is sanctification? Hagiasmos – the state of purity, holiness. An advanced definition comes from the root of the word sanctify which means to set apart to God for His use.

“To see God, in the Hebrew phrase, is to enjoy Him.”[1]  We enjoy God because Christ has purified us and made us whole. We are set apart to be used by God because we are in Christ.  Because of our positional holiness as being found in Christ it is now possible to eagerly pursue behavioral holiness. 

“To be holy” (1 Peter 1:15) it is our calling to live in our Christ given identity and in doing so will experience the enjoyment of time spent with God, (Hebrews 12:14).

“Without holiness no one will see the Lord,” is not a threat but what will result in living in our newness of life.

How do I eagerly pursue peace with someone who is not bent on peace toward me? Peter addresses this in 1 Peter 3:8-22. It is a rather lengthy passage so if you would like to better understand verse 15 and how to do that you can in Church Membership: God’s Good Purpose Fulfilled in You.[2]

This is our calling to suffer unjustly (1 Peter 2:21), not to hurt back those who hurt us (1 Peter 2:23), and this is not a rule to keep but a miracle to be experienced, it’s a grace to be received (1 Peter 2:20). Peace with all men comes by way of not repaying evil for evil.

To conclude with Jesus says something about those who would pursue peace and they are called the peacemakers.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Blessed (makarios): supremely blessed, fortunate, well-off, happy.  You might remember that Greek word from our 7 Blessings of Revelation Series.

 A defining characteristic of peace makers is that they are supremely blessed, fortunate and happy.

Who are the peacemakers? We are given the answer in 1 John 3:2, “they will be called children of God”.

Question: So who are the peacemakers? Answer: Children of God. All believers are the peacemakers because the very peace of Jesus has been given to us.

Do you see yourself as Christ has made you to be, a peacemaker? One who is supremely blessed because you are a child of God?

The wonderful thing about this is as the world grows more violent and protests and riots become more of the norm you have been gifted as a peacemaker. As a child of God you can show the world the path of peace. Will you see turmoil and violence and chaos as an opportunity before you to be the very opportunity to pursue peace with others so that those who don’t know God might discover that peace is found in Jesus.


[1] Adam Clarke Commentary https://www.studylight.org/commentary/hebrews/12-14.html

[2] Rev. Dr. Matthew Webster. Church Membership: God’s Good Purposed Fulfilled in You. (47-50).