Hebrews 12 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Karen Maghamil, Gracepoint San Diego

How do people allow “bitter root[s] to grow up to cause trouble and defile many?”  How does this lead to “[missing] the grace of God?”

People allow bitter roots to grow when there are thoughts, desires and sins that go unchecked, because they are hidden – we don’t share them with anyone else. And when I think about bitterness, it stems from not getting something that I want, and think that I deserve. I have expectations that are not met. It might just start off as a little thing, and I keep it to myself because I think it’s petty. I don’t want to share because I don’t want to be a bother with something so small. But the seed of bitterness quickly takes root because I feed it and I tend it in my heart and mind. Much more than thoughts of good things, we like dwelling and indulging our self-pity, our grumblings, our bitterness towards other people. And these roots grow and it’s no longer a small thought. It takes over our relationships, affecting how we relate to other people. We start to compare and focus on people who have what I want. We aren’t generous, we think we deserve something, we become mean-spirited or sometimes just plain cold towards other people. The negative thoughts we harbor breaks down trust as we start doubting those we think have control over the situation. We view God and leaders as taskmasters. We view others as being unjustly favored. The justifications grow in our minds, for why we deserve more attention, deserve an apology, deserve that praise that was given to someone else, or the right to have this or that. And that thinking leads to actions and words that “defile many.” We unload our bad attitude on others and cause them to experience coldness, hurt, or even worse, to side with us and also begin to doubt and feel resentment towards people we are called to be a family with.

When I have bitter roots, I miss the grace of God, because bitter roots are all centered on someone else being in the wrong. I’m the one who’s being wronged and sinned against. I have no need for the grace of God, because I’m consumed with feelings of being hurt, self-pity, woe-is me, anger and self-righteousness, and the last thing I’m feeling is that I’m a wretched sinner and messed up and in need of God’s forgiveness. Because that means I need to “lose” and concede that it’s not all the other person’s fault. The thing is, we’re are ALL sinners and desperately in need of God’s grace. The person of Esau was brought up, and he was someone who missed out on his inheritance because he was driven by his hunger and flesh. Feelings and desires  are powerful and we can forfeit God’s grace, because we are driven by our hunger for self-justification and feelings of bitterness towards someone else, instead of thinking about how much I’m in the wrong, against God and probably that person that I’m so pitted against.

Within our church plant here in San Diego, we’ve experienced how just a little resentment or bitterness can quickly infiltrate the whole atmosphere of our church. We live in close community and really do behave as one body. If one person is not doing well, we see it in the person’s face, we experience one less person helping out, we all feel a little downer. We’ve been learning how important it is that we don’t allow bitterness to take root but commit to making every effort to live in peace with all men, so that together we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

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