Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bitter Because Grace Has Not Made Us Better

"Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;" (Hebrews 12: 15)

What makes people bitter? They work so hard for something, only to find that what they were working for was not worth working for, or whatever they worked for they did not get, or someone else got the same thing without working for it.

When we try to earn anything on our own, we fall from grace, for grace is a gift which God so freely gives to us through His Son:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 17)


"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8: 31-32)

This bitterness can also give rise to "defilement" or sexual problems. In many cases, sexual addictions and perversions really stem from a sense of gnawing outrage or resentment.

Case in point: Luke 15 and the parable of the Prodigal Son, when in truth the whole parable is about the Generous Father.

The younger son basically tells his father to "drop dead", since he wants to take his portion of the inheritance. He went off and wasted all his money on "friends and feasting", both of which left him when the country hit hard times, and so did he.

After slaving away to feed pigs, which is as low as it gets for Jewish people, the son comes up with a brilliant, yet selfish plan:

"And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants." (Luke 15: 17-19)

Not once does the son evince any shame or remorse about wasting all of his inheritance. He even plotted a script, nothing from the heart at all. Still content to use his father, the son conspires to hire himself out as a servant to his estranged father.

Of course, the lavish grace which awaited him was more than he expected:

"But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." (Luke 15: 20)

The father covered him from head to foot with grace and glory. From the stench of pigs of stinking rich, the father not only restored but promoted his son, who was dead and became alive.

The older son was not happy at all about any of this:

"And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:" (Luke 15: 28-29)

Imagine that: the older son, who has the prized standing of first born and chief inheritor, and he was working for his father. His next indictment reveals the depths of his bitterness:

"But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf." (Luke 15: 30)

Jesus never relates that the younger son wasted his substance with "harlots". The older son has a perverted mind, a sexual problem because of his bitterness, because instead of resting and receiving the grace of his father, he felt that he had to work for it, that he could earn it through his efforts.

The older brother worked so hard for the Father, yet the Father gave everything so lavishly to the prodigal son, who returned under the dubious pretense of serving the Father as a hired servant.

If you have any bitterness in your life, let the grace of God make you better. You cannot perfect yourself to earn God's favor. Instead, believe that Jesus Christ is your righteousness, receiving his standing before the Father, and let Him lavish you with His love, grace, and goodly gifts.

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