No bitterness

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2016 Issue –  The Presence of God‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Psalm 16:11

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Hebrews 12:13-29 (NIVUK): ” … ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterwards, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.’ The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.

You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’”

Selwyn now looks at questions 3 and 4, (see 30 May study here), he writes: “The third question is: Have I allowed bitterness to take root in my heart? Of all the things that poison spiritual life and growth, bitterness is probably the most devastating. Jesus and bitterness are incompatible. If you hold on to bitterness you cannot hold on to Jesus.

Each of us must ask the ourselves at this very moment: Am I a bitter person? Do I hold grudges? Do I find it hard to forgive? If so, then surrender your bitterness now into the hands of Jesus. Give up your bitterness before it causes trouble, both to yourself and to others.

The forth question, was: Has love been the motive in everything? All the motives of life, if they are sound, are reduced to one – love.. And this love is not a general love but a specific one – the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14).

When we do everything for the love of Jesus, the mundane is transformed into the meaningful, the servile into the sacred. Perhaps this, more than any other single thing, makes us aware of God’s presence in our hearts.”

I’ve repeated a lot of what Selwyn has written in order to maintain the context, because I believe that the two question he examines today are extremely important. Bitterness can only flourish when love is absent and we can’t fully follow Jesus if our motives are not driven by a focused and complete love for God. There is a very good reason why the love for God is the first and greatest commandment because everything we do in life is shaped by how well we obey and serve this commandment.

Do you agree?