Summary: It’s important for us to look carefully inward to make sure we are not haboring bitterness.
When this says looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, it’s not telling us to check everyone else out to see if they measure up, no this is telling us to look into our own lives.
It’s easy for us to see what’s wrong with someone else or what they need to do, but this is talking about looking carefully to our own lives.
A young man rushed into a service station one day and asked the manager if he had a pay phone. The manager nodded, “Sure, over there.” The guy inserted a couple of coins, dialed and waited for an answer. Finally someone came on the line. “Uh, sir,” he said in a deep voice, “could you use an honest, hard-working young man?” The service station manager couldn’t help overhearing the question. After a moment or two the young man said, “Oh you already have an honest, hard-working young man? Well, okay. Thanks all the same.” A broad smile stretched across his face. He hung up the phone and started back to his car, obviously elated. “Hey, just a minute,” the station manager said, “I couldn’t help but hear your conversation. Why are you so happy? I thought the man said he already had someone and didn’t need you?” The young man smiled, “well, you see, I am that honest, hard-working young man. I was just checking up on myself!”
We need to be like this young man. We need to check up on ourselves when it comes to our faith. We have probably not even thought about it. However the Bible tells us to do just that, here and in 2COR.13:5. If we did it could save us a lot of trouble. It is like car maintenance. I remember once when not checking the oil cost us the price of a new engine. It was a very expensive repair bill that could have been under five dollars for the price of the oil. It can be the same way for us spiritually. We can save greater hurt to ourselves if we will examine our attitudes and heart conditions. Of course this means that if we find anything amiss we must be willing to change.
Our text says, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God.” This means that God’s grace is able to take care of any or all of our shortcomings if we will be honest enough to admit we are wrong and call upon God for His help and do what He tells us to do in order to correct it. HEB.4:16. Most of the time when we refer to this verse we are thinking about God’s help for us aimed at other people or things that have been unfair to us. If God would only take care of them. However if we look one scripture higher it talks about our weaknesses. If we would get us right we would have a lot less trouble with everyone and everything else. Let’s look at the rest of verse 15 of Heb.12. “Lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble.”
I think it is important that the Bible calls it a root. Root means cause or origin. When we think of root we usually think of a plant or tree. Roots for the most part are under the surface of the ground. The bitterness that we hold is often hidden deep within our hearts. A tree or plant is nourished by their roots. The tree or plant lives by what the root supplies. If we have a root of bitterness it will affect the way we live. Just as if the tree grows according to what the root sends up so also if someone is fed by that root of bitterness they become negative, angry, defensive, or depressed. That root will effect many areas of our lives if we let it. I think bitterness is one of satan’s best tools. Not only does he mess us up with it but it affects many other lives as well. satan can use it to destroy individuals, families, Churches, communities, and nations. Bitterness is a choice that opens the door to the enemy in many areas of the lives of those who walk in it. Usually bitterness begins with a hurt or offense. At that moment we can choose to keep the hurt and let it grow or we can choose to forgive. If we choose not to forgive the hurt will progress to bitterness.
Bitterness can effect our lives in many ways. None of them good. It can wound and control us emotionally. There are many attitudes that can develop from it. One that does is a victim mentality. We see this in the children of Israel’s attitude when they sent out the spies to search out the land. They came back seeing themselves as grasshoppers. They already had the land, God had given it to them but because of there attitude that generation lost it. No doubt the way they were treated in Egypt caused a lot of that “victim” attitude.