I was studying Hebrews 12 this morning and I have some thoughts on the current climate in our country. You could say some fresh words from an ancient book. We are living in a time of incredible anger, bitterness and division. There’s been talk of civil war and everyone seems to be throwing around verbal rocks that are injuring the innocent and the guilty. In fact, it’s been so hard both nationally and personally that just a few days ago, I was crying out to God for the Second Coming of Jesus – it’s just too much down here!! Come, Lord Jesus, come.
However, since you’re reading this, that means that Jesus has decided to wait just a little longer before His return. So, what do we see in the Bible that could be helpful to our situation, especially in the way we relate with one another, especially those on the “other side”?
Let’s start with our text and then allow me to share some thoughts about it:
Hebrews 12:14-17 – Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 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; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
Who’s job is it to seek peace with the other person? That’s right, it’s your job and my job. We all strive for it, not waiting for the other person to “come to their senses”. We also are to strive for holiness, what does that mean in our context? Well, to be holy is to be set apart for God’s purposes. If we’re not striving for holiness, we are striving for ourselves. And if everyone is striving for what they think and want then NO ONE gets to see the Lord. Do you see how that works? Every man for himself means no one for God – bad recipe!
“See to it” he says that no one fails to obtain God’s grace. I don’t get to choose who gets grace and who doesn’t. It’s above my pay grade and it’s not my choice. And in God’s economy, no one misses out. Jesus didn’t just come to die for the Jews, but for Gentiles like me too and for that I am eternally grateful. My guess is there is someone right now in your world who you’ve been withholding grace from. It’s not your choice, you need to “see to it” that no one misses that. My guess is a conversation, text or email may need to be sent today. I would challenge you to do that. What might happen on a national scale if we all extended grace to one another, even those we might unilaterally choose to withhold it from?
He then goes on to talk about bitterness and what he calls “a root of bitterness”. Think about a root, it’s not seen at first, it’s under the ground buried but if unattended to it will “spring up”. Unfortunately, that is what we are seeing in our nation. And this bitter root is currently causing trouble and defiling many. Are there any roots growing in us toward another person or group of people? It may be time for some gardening.
And finally, he talks about Esau who sold his birthright for a meal. The birthright was the holy privilege of Esau that, granted, he wouldn’t fully experience the benefits of until later. But what the writer to Hebrews is saying is that Esau sacrificed the eternal, the long game for the temporary. Haven’t we all been there? And how many of us, like Esau, would plead for another chance to do it over? When we sacrifice the eternal for the temporary we tend to hurt ourselves in the now and in the future. The ancient writer, invites us to look around right now and ask ourselves, “Where are we sacrificing the future for what we see in the present?” Or what if we turned it around? How are you and I seeking the eternal when the temporary is hard (and we’re hungry now)?
I know I opened this article telling you I wanted to address the national situation and kept talking about us. I did this, because I believe that’s what the Bible does. We’d love to keep the issues out there and with “them” and “those people” but God changes the hearts of individuals. And I love what Jesus said often, “he who has ears, let him hear”. Which, to me, means, if you’re reading this then He wants to start with you. The “others” may not have ears to hear right now, but you do. Why not choose to be a part of the positive solution starting in your world with what you can do?