Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Roots of Bitterness

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

The author of Hebrews shouted out a warning, “don’t be like this sinner” (paraphrasing 12.16). He then chose one of Isaac’s sons as an example of what NOT to be like. Can I tell you that it came as a surprise to me that he didn’t choose Jacob? That would have been the obvious choice. His name in Hebrew means, supplanter - to supersede and replace, in his case, by deception. But instead, he said, “Don’t be like Esau.” 

Sure, Jacob deceived Isaac and stole Esau’s blessing (Genesis 27). That was a terrible sin. But Esau became embittered to the point that he wanted to kill Jacob. And the teaching of the Torah indicates that God seems more concerned about someone taking offense than someone causing the offense. 

Jesus taught something similar in Matthew 7. He warned us to be watchful for the plank in our eye rather than the splinter in someone else’s eye. Focusing on the harm done to you is like a 2X4 sticking in your eye. In other words, the worse sin is bitterness. Always!

Esau was young when he sold his inheritance. It’s possible that he misunderstood what he had done, assuming he was entitled to an inheritance no matter what he did. He was wrong. An inheritance isn’t an entitlement. It’s a gift, something you can't earn. Someone else earned all the stuff, then gives it to you. 

By way of application, much of the bitterness in the world today comes from an entitlement mentality. It’s true of the spiritual realm too. Entitlement thinking is like legalism — I pay you something, then you give me what I deserve. And some have come to think of God that way. “I’ve served you, God, now I deserve a blessing.” Or, maybe worse, “I’m your child, God, give me what’s mine as a King’s child.” 

All of God’s good gifts are grace gifts. Life is grace. Health is grace. Prosperity is grace. Relationships are grace. You don’t earn them and you can’t demand them. 

Don’t become like Esau – the embittered one. Taking offense is, in some ways, more toxic than the offense itself. So, how do we deal with it? Turn to Christ who died for all, even those who have hurt you. He became their sin and yours. And, because He has forgiven you, you don’t have to let bitterness take root in your life. Rip it out and live life in abundance (John 10.10). 

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. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. Hebrews 12.15-16

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