There’s a classic stereotype of a bitter old man. He grunts at most, approves of little, and smiles not at all. He lives his life casting a gloomy shadow on the lives of others. People say, “grumpy old man” and most understand this idea. But how does one become this way? There are plenty of grumpy people everywhere, young or old.
The Bible prescribes a preventative for grumpy bitterness. It says,
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 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;”
The first verse gives us two objectives to follow. God desires that we seek peace with all men. It’s easy to get in a rut of contention without thinking about it. Complaining about the boss, or that coworker that doesn’t pull their weight. How about the grumbling about that driver who drives in the most annoying way possible. The government, the greedy rich people, the ridiculous activists.
Without realizing it, we can set ourselves to be at odds with people over and over again. We all have our faults. We all play the part of the annoyance at one point or another. If we allow offenses to pile up, if we complain consistently instead of praying without ceasing,
Are we really seeking peace with ALL men?
Secondly holiness. If we follow the love of Christ, and the purity that comes with righteousness, then we are seeking holiness indeed. Putting others before ourselves. Putting Christ’s commands before all else. Restraining ourselves from acting selfishly towards another or participating in excessive self-indulgence.
Christ first. Us last. This is the path to holiness.
To sum up the passage, Christ tells us to look diligently in order that no man fail the grace of God and a root of bitterness trouble you. But what does this mean? Christ tells us to watch out in general for the church. Not just ourselves.
When bitterness strikes, it troubles many. Just like that grumpy old man that seems to drag the rain cloud with him, if we allow bitterness in our lives, it will trouble all those around us. It will pollute the church, and detract from the objective: peace with all men, and holiness.
God’s commands are never unobtainable. God commands them because he knows we can achieve them with His empowerment. I challenge you, seek those two objectives, and look diligently that any root of bitterness does not spring up and destroy what Christ labors in us to produce. He is laboring in us, and when His spirit is in our lives, it will bring peace!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . . ” – Galatians 5:22