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Summary: Part 9 in our exploration of a future focus specifically dealing with the admonition to address bitterness.

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“Uprooting Bitter Roots”

Hebrews 12 addresses three specific life goals to consider as individuals and as a church family.

It is my hope that they will guide the direction of our church family throughout the year.

a) Promote Healing among the body

b) Pursue peace with ALL men

c) Pursue purity (sanctification)

This is where true meaning in life is found. This is the Divine Directive for EVERY true follower of Christ. Minister to one another. Pursue meaningful relationship with each other.

Pursue deeper relationship with God through our pursuit of purity and life transformation.

Just as God instructs every follower of Christ to passionately and continually promote and pursue healing, peace and purity, we are also commanded to continually address three specific peace and purity busters in the Christian community. The three things listed in this passage are three top issues that facture families, crack communities, rip relationships, split churches.

They also are the top three infections that stunt the development of our relationship with God.

Seeing to it

that no one comes short of the grace of God;

that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12:12-17

Hebrews pinpoints three major hindrances to spiritual growth.

A failure to appropriate God’s empowering grace.

A failure to forgive resulting in a bitter root which defiles and poisons all those around.

A failure to pursue eternal values.

Top three life struggles.

Pride – Bitterness – Temporal values.

God instructs EVERY believer to watch out for one another. We find fewer and fewer models of family unity and connection. People used to live in communities that looked out for one another. They watched each other’s back. The protected their property and guarded the neighborhood children. They shared tragedies and genuinely cared about each other.

Today it is rare to find such a community. More than ever we need followers of Christ to become that community. People need to find a place of acceptance and camaraderie. Scripture describes both healthy and unhealthy Christian communities. Since God created us for community, He continually urges us to pursue Him and pursue a healthy relationship with all our Christian brothers and sisters.

God instructs EVERY believer to watch out for one another. We are to see to it that none of us Paul's victim of these devastating infections. We find fewer and fewer models of family unity and connection. People used to live in communities that looked out for one another. They watched each other’s back. They protected one another's property and guarded each other's children. They shared tragedies and genuinely cared about each other. Such communities become harder and harder to find today. More than ever we need followers of Christ to become that community. People need to find a place of acceptance and camaraderie. Scripture describes both healthy and unhealthy Christian communities. We are to guard against bitter roots in the community.

1. Guard against falling short of God’s enabling grace

2. Guard against bitter roots

Seeing to it…that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

It is my observation that this disease runs rampant in the church of Jesus Christ today. For the most part, it goes unaddressed. Its gravity in the community is underestimated. It has destroyed more lives and more churches than probably any other single issue. I also believe it is among the top five destroyers of mental and emotional health. Although I am not a mental health expert I would venture to guess that two of the top reasons why people become institutionalized have to do with bitterness or guilt. Guilt is the failure to receive forgiveness and blessing.

Bitterness is the failure to reciprocate (give) forgiveness and blessing.

I. The character of bitterness

A. Definition

Bitterness describes the intentional cultivation of negative thoughts and emotions toward someone I hold responsible for an actual or perceived offense intentionally or unintentionally inflicted upon me or someone I care about.

The neighbor’s dog makes regular deposits in my front yard. The bitterness is not toward the dog (dogs do what dogs do). We direct our negative thoughts and emotions toward the dog's owner who fails to properly restrain his dog from doing business with my lawn.

A church member failed to acknowledgment me at the grocery store. In this case, it was not a direct hurtful action but the failure to respond to my presence. This may have been an actual or a perceived neglect. Regardless, I choose to cultivate negative thoughts and emotions toward that individual.

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