Life is often filled with disappointment and hurt. Friendships falter and unkind words linger, playing in a loop that just won’t quit. When taken to heart, each new offence makes us that much more bitter. Bitterness refuses to let any of the wrongs that we suffer, die a natural death, preferring instead to die an unnatural one ourselves.
The writer of the Hebrews warns us that we have to choose between accepting the grace of God or persisting in bitterness. We cannot be saved without the forgiveness of God’s grace nor can we remain saved without forgiving others.
Therefore he wrote:
“Be at peace with all men. Live a holy life. No one will see the Lord without having that kind of life. See that no one misses God’s loving-favor. Do not let wrong thoughts about others get started among you. If you do, many people will be turned to a life of sin.” (Hebrews 12:14-15 NLT)
Wrong thinking about others is a bitter root that grows until it defiles the mind and estranges others. It becomes a prison of our own making, shutting us off from the grace of God and discouraging others from ever discovering it. It renders us ineffective, insensitive, and spiritually dead. We may even become physically ill from it. This is just the opposite of what God wants for us and for others.
I was once challenged to deal with an individual who hurt me terribly. I was faced with a decision. Would I choose bitterness, or would I choose grace? My natural tendency was to choose bitterness. But God provided the courage to choose grace. With that grace came freedom – a freedom to love and even accept the person who was the source of such pain.
This is the one place where the power of Christ is most easily seen. His power in contrast with our weakness is perfected in us when we accept his grace by extending forgiveness to others.
Which raises the question: have you really accepted God’s grace? Has it softened your heart toward others?
At one time, God reminded the apostle Paul that: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”” (2 Corinthians 12:9a NKJV) God’s grace is free and need only be accepted. It takes humility to receive it and courage to put it into practice.
God’s grace will never fail. May we rely on it always.