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. (NIV 2011)
Here is an experiment to try: Fill a cup with water. Estimate its weight. Is it 6 ounces? 10 ounces? That's not very heavy, is it? Now pick up the cup and hold it at arm's length. Hold it there for one minute; now two minutes; now fifteen minutes. What happens if you hold that cup up for an hour?
You know the answer. The glass will feel heavier and heavier. Yet you know it is not changing. You are changing! Your arm is fighting against the force of gravity, and this will wear you down. If you don't rest your arm, you will become unable to function.
It's like that with loads that we carry within us. I'm thinking of unforgiveness. Even a small seed of resentment can, over time, become an unbearable load. Resentments will pile up. Harbouring unforgiveness, even if we don't realize it, is like holding up that cup of water without ever resting our arm. Over time, the offences pile up. We find ourselves fighting powerful forces that work against us, such as bitterness, revenge, negativity, and self-righteous justification. This zaps our spiritual vitality. It causes trouble in our relationships; it harms our health. And above all, it distances us from each other and from God. Unforgiveness defiles us and those around us. It hinders us from living fruitfully as ministers of reconciliation among fellow sinners. In this condition, we cannot fulfill our calling as God's kingdom people.
It is no wonder that the writer of Hebrews cautions God's people to watch out for any bitter root — and no wonder that God has been working in this area in my life. I've come to see that it is not the perceived offences against me that weigh me down. It's the bitter roots that remain. It's never pleasant to have these little roots exposed by the Spirit, but it is for my good. Whenever I sense a little root, no matter how minor it seems, I've chosen to take it seriously. I'm learning to hand it over to Jesus quickly and rest in Him. Our job is to remain yoked to Him and let Him carry the full weight of the load. He'll watch over us and help us manage each and every wrong committed against us, no matter how serious. That frees us to live joyfully in God's merciful and generous grace, free from any load that may hinder us from fulfilling our destiny.
Perhaps you would like to join me in this prayer: O Lord, I hunger for Your liberating grace and peaceful rest. Forgive me for how I've rejected Your grace by harbouring a spirit of unforgiveness. I crave to be set free from all defiling roots. Liberate me so that I may walk fully in Your grace and in that way be a visual aid of Your mercy and lovingkindness to fellow sinners. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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