Date: July 29, 2018
Pastor Matthew Burt
Title: See to it! (Part 2)
Text: Psalm 133, Deut 29:1-19, Luke 23:32-38
Wellspring Church, Springfield, Ma.
SCRIPTURES: Hebrews 12:15-17
15 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; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
BIG IDEA: See to it ! (Part 2)
In these verses there are three phrases, each one following “see to it that no one”. Is there something in your life, is there some struggle or failure that causes you to question the reality of your salvation? Is there something that causes you to question what you hope is your safe and secure standing with God? There are several reasons why you might. We will focus on one of those things this morning; one that we tend to overlook in our own experiences; something that ought to make us wonder if we really are a child of God.
Last week we asked “are we really our brother’s keeper”? The answer is YES. We must watch over each other. Remember that this word comes from the same word as bishop or overseer. We are to share the responsibility of watching over one another. One of the things we looked at was – do you see the necessity of oversight of the shepherds that God has called over you? We don’t see the shepherds of the church as those people to go to for help with problems in our life. So many times church attenders fail to take advantage of the knowledge, experience, care and love of the elders of the church. This is the reason why God has given you pastors. An elder has proven trustworthy and he has life experience to draw on.
There was once an intern/chaplain in a hospital. One of the patients was a Jewish man. Not wanting to impinge on his Jewishness he asked if he would like him to call a rabbi. The patient said no – I don’t have any theological questions! PB hopes that we see those who God has placed in our lives not just as theological teachers but as counsel for Christian living. This year, eight different people decided to go to another church – none talked to elders before making this decision. We need to look after one another.
John Brown, Scotland, 1800s
“I am afraid that a great deal of that impurity of Christian communion which is one of the worst characters of the Christianity of our times, and produces such deplorable results in many ways, is to be traced to a neglect of this mutual superintendency. I do not mean to exculpatory those who are officially overseers; but it must be obvious that all their attempts, however honest, to secure purity of communion will be of but little avail, if they are not seconded by the brotherly oversight of theme members themselves. This is a duty very plainly commanded in the passage before us; and this is by no means the only passage of Scripture wither it is enjoined. (Heb. 3:13; I Thess. 5:154; I Cor. 12:24, 25)”
So last week we saw that our focus was on the phrase “no one misses the grace of God’ and it was connected to God’s discipline. We are disciplined in order that He would guide us in the right way and protect us from going the wrong way. Since God is a good and wise father, everything He does is good and wise. If we grumble/complain/buck against the discipline of God then we are going to miss the grace of God in that discipline.
This morning we will take the same passage and go to the next phrase…. See to it that no root of bitterness springs up.
OUTLINE FOR TODAY:
Point 1: See how this connects to the wider context of scripture.
Point 2:What are the seeds that become roots of bitterness?
Point 3: What are the fruits that grow out of these seeds?
Point 4: How can we uproot these roots?
This is not a small matter. When the root of bitterness grows in your heart, many are defiled. This is of massive importance for your own soul and the soul of the congregation.
Point 1: Connect this to the wider context of scripture
This goes right back to Deuteronomy: see to it that no one rejects God and walks in their own counsel. In the stubbornness of my own heart, I think that I am safe and that God will not judge me. This is one way of looking at it. The second way of looking at is if I reject the grace of God in discipline, I will see every hardship in my life as something bad from the hand of God. Because I understand everything comes from God, I look at these reversals and hardships and I am angry at God. Bitterness grows in my heart towards the God who loves me. What a dangerous place this is to be. The third approach is that where there is bitterness there is no peace. Unpeace is a result of bitterness. There will never be peace where there is bitterness.
As the author tells us in v14, strive for peace with everyone; see to it that no root of bitterness grows up. It’s a horiztontal bitterness that we are warned against. Why is this important to us?
Listen to Thomas Boston:
“[This] is a fire that burns within, and makes one go with a bitter heart, and full of gall, a burden to himself and others till it be digested.
It’s a reality that we are far more concerned about our physical health than we are about our spiritual health. When I think of bitterness causing trouble and defilement the first verse that I think of Proverbs 13:30- envy makes the bones rotten. Bitterness is the direct fruit of envy. Bitterness can weaken and debilitate the body. It can cause blood pressure to rise, it can cause acid indigestion and the open door to despair and depression. Bitterness can even be an open door to cancer.
Point 2: What are these seeds of bitterness?
A. Anger and resentment – we tend to think of this as outbreaks or explosions. The other person understands that we are just a jerk. But anger is an ongoing attitude that we have. Anger is an inappropriate response (wrong heart, wrong mind) to not getting what I think ought to happen. If you are angry with your spouse, stop and say – they are not acting in the way I think they should act. When we allow this kind of thing to live within us it becomes resentment. It’s like a low grade fever.
B. Nursing hurt feelings – we live in a culture and we are in danger of becoming people that are hurt when we don’t get our own way. We live in a generation of emotionally fragile quitters.
C. Discontent with our situation – I should have a better (fill in the blank). This is connected with the sin of covetousness which is idolatry.
D. Fatigue – I am tired of being treated this way. When will people appreciate me?
E. Unresolved injustice – every one of us has been treated unfairly by someone in our life. Some of us have been treated unspeakably horribly by the same person in our life. Everyday the news tells us of someone who has decided to tell us about someone who mistreated them. Reports of doctors being sued for abuse of women students. Every day there is a story of injustice. The longer I live with this injustice, the more susceptible I become to bitterness
F. Looking at someone I love or care about who has been mistreated by a 3rd party.
Point 3: What are the fruits of bitterness?
A. Ongoing replay of the offensives that I have suffered. It can be within you. We replay the offense in our mind or we replay it verbally to anyone who will listen. It’s a willingness to tell my story, to tell my hurt to gain a sympathizer.
B. Impatience with someone in my life. There is someone that triggers anger in you. There is someone that triggers impatience in you. This is a sign that this person is not meeting your desires or goals.
C. I find myself rejoicing when I hear that someone in my life has received trouble. I want to tell the bad news about this hurtful person to someone else. Instead I must ask God to give this person grace for his pain. If I don’t do this we are not showing neighborly love.
D. Unwillingness to go out of our way and do good for a person. I withhold good from another person. Jesus said that if your enemy is hungry, feed him. I want to make this person suffer because of how they have made me suffer. I am on dangerous ground.
E. Think poorly of another person – we immediately judge their actions. Richard Baxter writes:
“Love thinketh not ill of those we love; ill will and malice are still ready to imputeth whatever is amiss, to those whom they hate. Enmity is contentious and slanderous; and will make a crime of virtue itself. And from any topic fetch matter of reproach.”
For example, we feel there are no fair call by the refs for our team.
F. Withholding forgiveness – set up boundaries and not let people treat me in a certain way. Your boundaries may be walls that divide you from those you are called to love. They do nothing to restore relationships. They only keep the status quo from getting worst.
G. The Scottish Puritan Thomas Boston warns us that bitterness and anger “fires the tongue is particular manner (James 3:6) and brings along with it a train of evils, quarreling, bitter words, railing, and scolding, reviling and reproaching, swearing, cursing, fearful imprecations, blaspheming, etc. All of these being traced to their original, are landed at the door of passion [anger], which opening, sends out these as smoke of the pit.” What would it be like if we separated ourselves from our situation and we heard our words when we spoke with a person we had some anger or resentment with? Our words will betray us.
H. Overloaded reason – rob us of our ability to discern properly and carefully. My vision is clouded.
I. Unwillingness to overlook an offense/hurt. I say I have been hurt too often. If I say this, I need to connect that feeling with a deep sadness because as soon as I say I can’t forgive then I am guilty of misjudging God Himself. I have overvalued myself and made myself way more important than I really am and I forget how big my offenses are to God. I undervalue the price of my forgiveness. No forgiveness you have offered has cost you what it cost God to forgive you.
J. I undervalue the preciousness and gift of friendship and family relationship. I have robbed them of our friendship.Dullness in spiritual life.
K. I bless myself and say God will not punish. Decline in spiritual life might be related to many causes. John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, wrote on the subject of the decline in the Spiritual Life said, “Many cause might be enumerated for spiritual lethargy but “The practice if a single sin, or the omission of a single duty, if allowed against the light of conscience, and, if habitual, will be sufficient to keep the soul weak, unfruitful, and uncomfortable, and lay it open to the impression of every surrounding temptation. Sometimes unfaithfulness to light already received perverts the judgment, and then error with seem to afford some countenance or plea for a sin which the heart will not give up, are readily embraced, to evade the remonstrance of conscience.”
Point 4: How can we uproot these?
A. Start to see that this bitterness is dishonoring to God.
B. Increase my knowledge of God so I might trust God.
C. Ask God to give me a deeper and humble love.
D. See bitterness and anger as Satan’s work?
E. Practice self control of our responses. You are the only person that can control your responses! We can help each other but we are the only one that can control our action.
F. Don’t replace God’s word of counsel with some worldly wisdom on how to repair broken relationships.
G. Take up the shield of faith! Vengeance belongs to the Lord. God will take care of this!
H. Ask God for grace and forgiveness. He has offered it; just don’t miss it.
I. Run to Jesus! Why? Because He gave me the example (not only the instruction). He told us to forgiven 70 times 7. He gave us the parable of the servant who was whipped for some small amount owed. He also gave us a model. Luke 23:34 – Father forgive them. But they do know what they are doing but they had no idea of the gravity of their sin. Can we not also pray Father forgive them? Forgive one another as God forgave you. The gospel is not only knowing my sins are forgiven but the gospel is the joy of forgiving others who have aggrieved us far less than we have aggrieved God.
Do you ever wonder about your salvation? If bitterness resides in your heart – get rid of it. Say YES to the grace of God. If we don’t many will be defiled by it.
See to it that there is no root of bitterness. We need to call others out on bitterness.