The social and political world we live in doesn't tend to promote peace or godliness. It grieves me to see the contentious banter expressed in social media and in network news media.
I'm really grieved by the vitriolic exchanges between Christian believers who have differing opinions. None of that honors God and it certainly doesn't make being a Christian attractive to non-believers.
It does take effort to live at peace with others and to live a life that honors God. But the secret isn't more discipline and self-effort, although self-control is an attractive and valuable virtue.
The transforming power of God's grace or kindness is the key. God's grace at work in our hearts keeps things like bitterness, envy, and greed from corrupting us. A holy life is one that chooses God as the ruler of our life rather than emotions or circumstances.
Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord. Make sure that everyone has kindness [grace] from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you. [vss 14-15]
Make sure that no one commits sexual sin or is as concerned about earthly things as Esau was. He sold his rights as the firstborn son for a single meal.
You know that afterwards, when he wanted to receive the blessing that the firstborn son was to receive, he was rejected. Even though he begged and cried for the blessing, he couldn’t do anything to change what had happened. [vss 16-17]
(Hebrews 12:14-17 GW) [Context– Hebrews 12]
Make sure that everyone has kindness [grace] from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow
Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions
What two things are we to try and do? How do you think this is possible?
What is needed to prevent bitterness from taking root and growing in our lives?
How does the example of Esau's remorse illustrate what two things we are to avoid?
Is there a difference between remorse like that of Esau and true repentance?
Relationships are always important. Our priority is to have a genuine relationship with God through faith [trust] in His Son. And Jesus made it clear that our relationships with others are a vital priority in our relationship with Him.
This is why we are to live at peace with one another, to be gracious and not bitter with one another. Nor are we to be greedy or selfish because these attitudes damage our relationships.
A holy life is one dedicated to the Lord and His purpose for our life. It's not about being good but allowing God's grace and goodness to transform our hearts. This is how God brings change in our life that others see.
Repentance is not the same as remorse. A remorseful person feels sorry for themselves and the consequences of their actions. Repentance requires a change of heart and turning to God to seek out His grace and goodness and restoration.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions
How are the first two exhortations related to the issue of bitterness taking root and growing in our heart?
What is needed to keep bitterness from growing in our hearts towards God and others?
What do you find most difficult in dealing with bitterness in your heart?
Are living at peace with others and living a godly life personal priorities for you?
Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews