See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. (Hebrews 12:15)
As a young boy I can recall my dad weeding our front lawn. He had this tool that no dandelion was a match against. Our lawn went from spotted yellow to all green. (Yes, I also learned to mow the lawn with a push mower, as in no power to turn the blades, much less self propelled!) Weeds have a tendency to take over a lawn or garden, don’t they? Once they spring up, the surrounding growth is at risk, unless someone intentionally removes them.
Obtaining the grace of God is the tool we must use daily to combat bitterness.
The best “bang for your buck”, getting good results that is, will be to attack bitterness on the front end, in its’ seedling stage. Otherwise, the roots become entangled with other roots and we’ll soon have a conglomerate of soul inhibitors to deal with. Common partners in crime with bitterness are resentment, sarcasm, and anger.
A distinctive element about tools is they are most effective when diligently used. That’s the meaning of the Greek word translated “see to it” in the verse above. It means “looking diligently” and is only used one other time in the New Testament, in First Peter: Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight. (5:2)
What Peter is exhorting the elders to do for the flock, is what we need to do for ourselves – “self shepherding.”
The destructive power of bitterness should never be taken lightly. It is one of the most difficult infections to heal in the body. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. (Deuteronomy 29:18-19)
Bitterness is: failing to obtain the grace of God; walking in stubbornness. The Hebrew word used for “safe” is “shalom.” A false peace is established when one feels justified to remain bitter. This so called “peace” or “safety” can only be sustained by remaining focused on ways that we were offended and hurt. Refusing to forgive is a common “on ramp” to bitterness and will hinder the flow of grace.
Paul exhorted Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1) The Word made flesh, came full of grace of truth, and we have beheld His glory. John declares of Jesus: Of His fullness we have all received grace upon grace. (1:16) The literal meaning is grace taking the place of grace. Like the manna provided in the wilderness, we have new grace for each new day.
The testimony of the remnant will always be, “We have endured by obtaining the grace of God.”