Responsibilities (Hebrews 12:15-17)

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, AV)

As I have encountered various leaders in my journey through the military, industry and the church, I have noticed that certain leaders seem to excel in what they do. One of the chief characteristics that set these leaders apart was that they sought to ensure their subordinates were successful in what they were doing. Sometimes this required tough love so to speak. Yet, most often it was motivational and the credit was given to those who did the work for the successes of the collective effort.

I believe this is what we saw in the latest Super-Bowl 55. In the postgame interviews, what we saw was many of the team leaders and coaches speaking about their key to success. I noticed a great degree of humility. By this I mean these leaders and stars of the winning team constantly gave credit to others and the entire team for their success. I believe that this mentality was established early on in the season and led to the team’s success.

In my previous devotional. I pointed out that the author of Hebrews wrote of the responsibilities of the strong in the congregation to help those who are weak. The way they could do that was to help them achieve the greatest success, so to speak, of obtaining the grace of God. Previously, the author stated that the strong must personally strive for the right things in doing this. They were to strive for peace and holiness (v14). The strong needed to set the example for the weak to follow in their conduct.

Yet, even beyond setting the example, the author also desires that the strong take an active role in encouraging the weak through the ministry of the word of God to those who are professing to be Christian. This is something we often overlook. Many see the professing Christian and fail to realize that it might only be a verbal profession without true faith. We need to continue to encourage all believers through the ministry of the word and prayer so that they all will succeed in obtaining the grace of God.

The author then tells us why this exhortation was so vital in the congregation. There is a danger when one who merely professes Christ falls away, that he or she may create great damage for others in the flock. The author states that such a one may become a “root of bitterness springing up trouble.” This troublesome person, like a bitter root, can poison others in the congregation with his or her apostasy (v15). This person’s apostasy has the capacity to bring false teaching into the congregation as well as other forms of sin (v16).

The thing that should burden us the most is seen in the example of Esau. Esau was a carnal man who sold his birthright for a meal, and lost the blessing. The problem was that once these were lost, he had no chance to get them back. In the same way, every person has an opportunity to obtain the grace of God. However, if they chose to walk away there will come a day that they will never experience it. They will be lost with no hope. Therefore, it behooves us to do everything we can to ensure that people hear the message of hope and reinforce this message in our local congregations and groups. For, faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17).

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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