Are you better at pulling out the weeds in your garden than you are at weeding the bitter roots out of your heart? Hebrews 12:15 tells us: “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.”
Phillips translation says, “Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives.” Have you been failing to respond to God’s grace?
Grace is a theological concept absolutely essential to our faith, but about which few Christians really know very much. If you had to define what God’s grace means to you, what would you say? J. I. Packer in his marvelous book, Knowing God, says that many church people “pay lip-service to the idea of grace, but there they stop. Their conception of grace is not so much debased as non-existent” (p. 116-117). Like the writer to the Hebrews, he says many of us are missing the grace of God—failing to respond to God’s grace because we don’t know what it is or are not conscious of it in our daily lives.
But what does it mean to see to it that we don’t miss the grace of God, or that we respond to God’s grace? Well, when I am responding to God’s grace I am aware of where I’d be without him, how desperate my plight would be if I didn’t know Jesus, how dead in trespasses and sin I am without his redemption, and how evil my own sinful heart is unless it is transformed by his power.
When I am responding to God’s grace, then I go into my day with a thankful heart and spirit. I am rejoicing, because I remember that because of God’s grace, I not only escape the condemnation I deserve but I receive incredible gifts of grace—showers of blessings poured on me for which I am totally unworthy. Just saying those words gets my heart beating faster. I am so blessed because God has been gracious to me beyond belief. So are you. So are we all.
But here’s our problem; we forget about God’s grace. Or we’ve never really understood it. Or we are so self-focused that there’s no room left in our minds to think of anything except ourselves. Then what happens? Bitter roots. Why? We missed the grace of God; we responded to our own selfish natures instead of to God’s grace; we pay lip-service to grace but it has no impact in the living out of our everyday lives on our jobs, in our homes, wherever we are.
How do bitter roots begin? By missing the grace of God in our lives on a daily basis. How do we keep from missing the grace of God? The passage says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God. . .” You and I must see to it; take action; take precautions; establish disciplines that keep us from missing God’s grace.