By Alice Northcutt
Today's Scripture: Hebrews 12:14-15
Central Thought: Through faith and prayer, we can overcome bitterness and be examples for others.
For generations peace has been a goal for individuals, nations, and the world as whole. What a challenge! As individuals, we cannot guarantee that even one nation, and especially not that the whole world will be at peace, but we can each "strive for peace with everyone" (v. 14) who is in our circle of family, associates, and other acquaintances.
The writer to the Hebrews goes from the positive attribute of peace to an admonition to stay away from bitterness. Not only does he warn against bitterness, but he warns that it can defile us (v. 15). Bitterness when mentioned alone may not sound so bad, but it is mentioned in a list that includes sexual immorality and unholiness (v.16). Bitterness may start as hurt feelings, or it may result from the outright animosity of others toward us. It may result from the consequences of an impetuous decision such as that made by Esau to sell his birthright, or it may result from the unprovoked, unkind action of another person toward us.
Why do we need to overcome bitterness? Bitterness leads us in the opposite direction from the "holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (v. 14). It can be a stumbling block that keeps us from being effective witnesses to others as we fulfill the commission to bring others to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).
How can we overcome bitterness? I have found that daily reading of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) is a start in the right direction. Another practice is to sincerely pray for God to bless the person who is the object of bitterness, regardless of the reason—justified or unjustified. May we take control of bitterness lest it take control of us.
Devotional Prayer: Lord, help me to have so much faith in You that there is no room for bitterness and other hindrances to inner peace.
Today's Bible Reading: Ezekiel 31:1-32:32; Hebrews 12:14-29; Psalm 113:1-114:8; Proverbs 27:18-20