Removing Bitterness: Part 2
Are you ready for some good news?
The grace of God grants you eternal blessing that you don’t deserve. Such knowledge has the power to displace the bitter roots in your heart that harbor memory of wrongs suffered.
“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.” (Hebrews 12:15–16, ESV)
I would like to continue a message on the Gospel’s power to uproot bitterness. I’ve always been fascinated by the Hebrews text exhorting us to “let no root of bitterness spring up” because it links it with sexual immorality and unholiness “like Esau.” Why Esau?
Esau was defrauded of his inheritance by his conniving younger brother, Jacob. Jacob was a liar, a thief and a scoundrel. If the author of Hebrews wanted to choose one of Isaac’s sons as a negative example, why not choose Jacob? It seems like the writer of Hebrews would say: “Let no one be like Jacob who was a cheater and deceiver.” But instead, bitterness, sexual immorality and unholy living are linked to Esau. Why?
Esau was a bitter man. After Jacob stole his blessing, Esau wanted to kill him. “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”” (Genesis 27:41, ESV) The twins’ mother, Rebekah, warned Jacob of Esau’s murderous intent with strange words: “your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you.”
What could possibly be comforting about the contemplation of first-degree murder? The embittered soul can find no comfort other than the illusion of satisfaction through revenge.
There is no solution to bitterness except the Gospel of grace. Grace is the antidote to bitterness because receiving a rich eternal gift has power to trump the fleeting (though painful) losses of this world. Bitterness declares to the soul: “Unfair, unfair! You have been wronged unfairly.” But grace comes in like a flood: “Unfair, unfair! You have been blessed unfairly.” Bitterness comes from the contemplation of suffering a wrong that you didn’t deserve. Joy comes from contemplating a blessing you didn’t deserve. God’s grace is greater than all our wrongs suffered. And that’s the Gospel!
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