Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God
and that no root of bitterness springs up,
causing trouble and by it, defiling many.
After the events of this week, this verse is especially important to consider. As men and women of Christ, we are part flesh and part spirit. As such, it is natural for our fleshly nature to harbor anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness towards those who perpetrated such heinous evil upon innocent victims.
But we must take these holy words to heart, and realize that if we are truly seeking to live a righteous life by the example of Christ, then we must do what He did, and forgive our enemies. It is only when we can do this, that we are able to be healed from the pain and sorrow wrought by such evil.
By no means, am I attempting to diminish that pain and suffering. Not only are some of the victims still suffering from their injuries, but the souls of the families and the entire nation have been damaged. And it is not just the physical wounds that need to be healed, it is the wounds to our hearts, minds and spirits. It is unfathomable how these two human beings could harbor such hate towards their fellow man. But we must not return hate for hate --- or, as our Scripture says, allow a root of bitterness to spring up.
We must rely on the grace of God. We must be diligent in our efforts to not fall short of that unmerited gift of grace which He has bestowed upon us. We know that Grace means "favor, blessing, or kindness", but when it is extended by God it has a much more powerful purpose than when we show grace to each other. When the word is used in connection with God, "Grace" is God choosing to bless us, rather than curse us, as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the undeserving.
I think we can all agree that the sins of the murderers in San Bernardino should result in God cursing them. But that is not our call to make. After all, doesn't His Word say that He will have mercy on whom He has mercy, and compassion on whom He has compassion (Romans 9:15)? If God forgives us our sins, then who are we to harbor unforgiveness towards others? Does it not imply that we think ourselves above and apart from God, if we set our own rules?
It goes without saying that our souls (our minds, hearts, will, and emotions) need healing after this last week. We are reeling, but unforgiveness will block God's forgiveness [towards us] from operating in our own lives. Our inner healing requires that we are able to receive God's forgiveness. If we are unable to forgive, it will put us into the hands of tormenting spirits. This is the last thing we need when we're seeking healing for our souls! As if that isn't enough, unforgiveness also puts a person in spiritual darkness and separation from God, and defiles us spiritually. All this is the "trouble" and the "defilement" that our verse speaks of today.
Being separated from God puts us in a spiritually dark place; a place without that personal connection or relationship with God that makes our life in this host body bearable. That is what we know as "Trouble". And the Greek interpretation of that word "trouble" (ochleo) means "being troubled, molested, vexed by evil spirits". When that happens, our souls and spirits are "defiled"; or polluted and contaminated; unable to be in reconciliation and relationship with God.
When we allow those spirits of "trouble" into our lives -- spirits of anger, bitterness, revenge -- only the power of the Holy Spirit can deliver us and heal us. Forgiving others opens the door for the healing power of the Holy Spirit to come into our lives. And that is a true picture of the grace of God!
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