Todays readings.. Judges 1, Isaiah 30, Hebrews 13
“THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS”
I remember how, years ago, our back fence collapsed under the weight of ivy and other creepers. The challenge when putting up the new fence was not just to clear away the vines but to dig out the roots – and that was no easy task. The entire root system had to be unearthed. We thought of this as we read Hebrews 12 and the phrase “root of bitterness” [v.15]. Let us carefully note the context, “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”. Human beings are no different to plants.
We may not realize it, but in the way we think, the places to which we let our minds travel and take root in the experiences of life, those roots become habits that are good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. Getting rid of bad habits is not easy, especially if they have dug in deep! When life seems to collapse, or threatens to, it is even more vital we dig out all those ‘roots‘ before God does!
John the Baptist used the same word when he said the “axe is laid to the root of the trees” [Matt.3 v.10] And that generation, those who turned away from Jesus, felt the effect of the “axe”!
We think of what we read in Hebrews ch.11 and its encouragement to us to imitate all the examples of faith in former ages that we read of in God’s scriptures. These are described as a “great a cloud of witnesses, so (because of them) let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely” [12 v.1]
They cling closely like those vine roots we had to dig out with so much difficulty– and – coming to today’s chapter (13) must make sure we respond to the advice to “keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have” [v.5] That advice is the very opposite to the spirit that is in the world today! The world’s ‘spirit’ is constantly confronting us with a barrage of alluring marketing messages and other godless attractions/distractions.
Money is of course essential, but loving it, is destructive. People are not content, they forever want more – and this attitude puts down roots into their thinking until it ultimately destroys them.
Finally, we must note the vital point that is made in v.9 “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings …it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.” When that happens it proves we have put down good healthy roots!
Let us finish with the last words in this epistle – “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all” Grace? It is the loving favour of our Lord – the reality of which, when we sense it in our hearts, will inspire us to get rid of bad roots.