Bitterness and Grace – Mandates for citizens of the Kingdom of Light

My daughter lost a cross. The chain on her necklace broke while she was gardening and the tiny cross fell somewhere in the grass or dirt. She searched a long time but gave up hope of ever finding it again.  

For some odd reason, I love searching for things like this—things that are supposedly gone forever, but we know they must be there somewhere. The cross had been gone for weeks and it was barely half an inch long, but I was determined to find it. I suppose I love rising to such challenges.

So I went to her gardens, got down on my knees and started combing through dirt and grass. She gave me this firm warning: “Don’t pull anything! Some of those tiny plants are things I want to save!”

I admit that I also have this compulsion (sometimes) to pull other people’s weeds when I see them poking up obnoxiously in a flower bed. (What? You do, too? 😊)

I thought about pulling weeds in her garden when I read this:

Hebrews 12:15
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.
Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Wow. Talk about challenges. Here are two for everyone who follows Jesus, is a citizen of His kingdom, and has become a son or daughter of God.

That poisonous root of bitterness. Be vigilant against it. The world today is infested with an unrestrained, particularly aggressive species of bitterness. I’m sad to say that I’ve seen it taking root and cropping up in places it has never before been allowed to flourish—in churches, between neighbors, in families, circles of friends. In my own heart and mind.

How do we pull up those roots of bitterness? It’s growing everywhere in our nation today. But it seems as though anything I might do would be ineffective against the great crop that is growing so rapidly today. How do we “watch out” that it does not overtake our relationships and interactions? 

Here’s the thing: I can’t pull weeds from other people’s gardens. I can only tend the garden of my own heart and mind. That warning to “watch out” is meant for me to heed on a personal level. I’ve got to stomp out this invasive species whenever I find it taking root in my own garden.

But lest we retreat too much to tend only our own backyards and let the world do what it may, read again the first words of Hebrews 12:15: “Look after each other…”

We are to be involved in the lives of others. The NIV wording is even more emphatic in urging us to “see to it that no one misses the grace of God…”  We are to be carriers of God’s grace in this world. We’re to promote the spread of His magnificent grace. That’s the invasive species that every mission-partner of Jesus is to be planting.

When it comes to the bitterness spreading so fast in our world today, we’ve got to weed it out of our own souls. Leave no stray root that will grow up to corrupt. That’s a challenge.

When it comes to the grace of God, though, God’s children are to be a conduit through which it flows out, unhindered and extravagant, to everyone with whom we interact.

Everyone. Because that’s who God wants to reach with His grace. I admit, that’s an even bigger challenge for me.

But this is the mandate for citizens of His kingdom. Talk about rising to the challenge… Will we?  


p.s. Yes. I did find the cross.

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