In yesterday’s post, we considered two unhelpful ways we may respond/react to God’s faith-training program, i.e. His custom-designed plan to discipline His children into faithful and obedient disciples of Christ who resemble our Savior. Those two counter-productive responses were:
- Growing weary
- Allowing discouragement to grow to a crippling degree
Today, let’s consider two more responses, which are far more serious and, actually, are often extensions of the first two. These are bitterness and rebellion.
Bitterness – Hebrews 12:14 exhorts, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” Tragically, the lack of desire or effort to be at peace with others is evidence that one has “come short of the grace of God.” This shortage of grace leads to bitterness—deep-seated resentment that is produced by an unwillingness to forgive (See Matthew 18:21-35). Most frightening of all is what the unwillingness to forgive or be reconciled says about the true condition of the one who instead punishes others (vv. 34-35). If we have allowed a root of bitterness to grow in our heart we must recognize it for what it is. It is a poisonous, soul-destroying sin that “springing up causes trouble” and defiles many (Heb 12:15). If we are bitter against God and His training program for our sanctification then we must repent.
Rebellion – Finally, the author of Hebrews reminds us of the powerfully frightening example of Esau whose rebellion against God ultimately led to being “rejected.” When he finally decided to repent it was too late; “he found no place for repentance, though he sought it with tears” (Heb 12:16-17). This is a stark warning against hardheartedness, which is a danger zone for each of us.
This downward cycle is downright terrifying! When we respond to God’s discipline by growing weary and letting discouragement cripple us then the soil of our hearts is ready to grow the root of bitterness. And when bitterness is not uprooted by humble repentance and confession then rebellion is surely to follow. How necessary it is, therefore, that we “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of [us] will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
God’s grace is sufficient for our sanctification. But let us not fall short of it by tolerating sinful responses to God’s program of training us in Christ-likeness. Let us seek the Lord while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6). Now is always the right time to repent.