Hebrews 12:15

Sunday, 21 April 2019

…looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; Hebrews 12:15

The author just admonished his readers to “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” The verb was active and imperative. He now continues with that by saying, “looking carefully.” It is a present participle, active. “You are to do this and continue doing it. Keep looking carefully!” And there is a reason for this. The reader is to continue observing the body “lest anyone fall short of the grace of God.”

The verb is, again, a present participle, active. It more rightly says, “lest anyone be falling short of the grace of God.” This isn’t speaking of someone who has become a believer and who has apostatized and thus lost his salvation. Rather, it is speaking of someone who has been saved and is in the continued process of not matching his life with the grace he has received.

In other words, it is someone who is failing to do what is said in the previous verse. He is not pursuing the peace or holiness to which he has been called. Nothing is said of losing his salvation. It is simply one failing to live up to that salvation. Those in the church should be looking carefully for such a failing “lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble.”

The verb here is, again, a present participle, active. A root is something out of sight. It is buried and not something we even think about. But with water and the right conditions, the germination process takes place, and the root begins to sprout. Likewise, within the church, there may be one who fails to pursue peace and holiness. The bad root begins to come alive and it perniciously begins to produce a bitter plant which causes trouble. From there, the result is obvious. The author says, “and by this many become defiled.”

It is exactly what Paul warns about in his epistles, and it is what is warned about by the other apostles as well. Paul gives the remedy for someone who springs up in this manner in 1 Corinthians 5, saying, “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

In that Chapter, Paul doesn’t question the person’s salvation. In fact, he argues for it. But he understood what having such a person remain among the congregation would do to the health of the body. The same idea is seen here. The author is looking out for the good of all by having all be on the lookout, at all times, for any action which would disturb the peace of the body, or which lacks holiness within the body.

Life application: Being around a bitter person is like putting a bitter herb in a pot of stew. Everything gets tainted. And so it is in church bodies, our families, and with our social contacts. When a bitter person is allowed to influence the party, the party is ruined. Isaiah actually marks bitterness in a person as one of the great sins of existence –

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;

Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20

Just as a person who calls evil good, so is the person who takes what should be sweet (Christian fellowship for example) and makes it bitter. Be wary of your own heart and watch for bitterness in others lest it cause trouble and by it many become defiled.

Thank You Lord that the reminders in Your word are so helpful in our daily walk. Keep our thoughts attuned to Your grace and how we should live in response to it. Also, keep us from bitterness which defiles. May we be a pure and holy people, set apart for Your use. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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