Let’s be honest. Our world is EXTREMELY negative, polarized, and divisive. Every month that goes by politics, religion, and even sports divide us more and more. From even a cursory glance at social media, it seems that bitterness is the flavor of the day. I can understand why bitterness is spreading. I see so many things on social media, in the news, and with my own eyes that frustrate me, break my heart, and even anger me. I see countless unchecked actions and behaviors that I can’t even begin to understand, let alone agree with. Truth be told, I often feel a bitter taste building on my tongue. While it is typical to feel frustration and bitterness, we need to remember not to let bitterness overcome us and drive our actions.
Look at what Paul tells us in Hebrews chapter 12:
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. Hebrews 12:14-15
- Strive for peace with everyone: This can be a bitter pill for us to swallow in this age of divisiveness. Some of you are likely making a mental list of exceptions right now of those you don’t have to show peace to. However, Paul is exceptionally clear. It does not matter what differences we have with others, our goal should not be to sow divisiveness, but to sow peace.
- Model holiness: I can’t really blame the secular world for getting caught up in polarizing issues. But Paul tells us that Christ-followers need to be an example of a better way of living. We need to be models of the holiness of Christ Jesus in the way we live and treat others. When people see Christians in life and social media they should be struck by how radically different we are. They should be amazed at how we love one another, love others, and are seeking to improve the world. They should be so taken by how different we are that they want to stop acting worldly, and instead seek God’s ways.
- We should seek to avoid causing trouble: As Paul puts it, letting bitterness grow unfettered leads to all sorts of trouble. It can lead to broken relationships, arguments, anger, and more. Let me be blunt. I have seen Christians of all stripes let their bitterness lead to trouble and conflict. I’ve seen many long-lasting relationships ripped to shreds, and families and church split apart, all of which breaks my heart. Don’t let your bitterness cause trouble for yourself or others.
- Seek God’s grace: Our focus should be less on always being right and more on sharing and modeling God’s grace. Yes, we have a right to our opinions, and yes, we have a right to defend them vigorously. But at the end of the day, God’s grace is more important than anything else. Let’s make sure we never lose that perspective.