Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Is that your final answer?

"Is that your final answer?" the host of Who wants to be a millionaire asks. Once you say "Yes" there is no going back. Some decisions in life are like that as well. Once you decide to steal from your boss, cheat on your spouse, take a bribe, hurt someone in anger ... there is no going back. Final answer. Consequences will follow.

What most of don't realize is that the seeds of those decisions were planted years, even decades before the acts were carried out. They were bitter seeds that sent down bitter roots and yielded bitter fruit. We allowed thoughts of envy, lust, jealousy, greed, hate, etc.  to settle down in our hearts and put down roots that eventually led to acting out of the "final answer".

Hebrews 12 warns against allowing these evils to take root in our hearts:

"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;  that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.  For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears."  Heb 12:14-17

Many Westerners think that this passage is talking about the sin of bitterness, but from the context it is clear that any unholy thought can become a "bitter root". What "clinging sin" are you struggling with? Lust? Greed? Bitterness and hurt? Envy? Anger? _____? These have the potential to become a bitter root and lead to your downfall - the final answer. Once you give the final answer there is no going back.

What do you do with a bitter root? Pull it out. Like most weeds however the roots often break off and spring up again. If there is a bitter root in your life then you need help. You need some faithful brothers and sisters to walk with you and encourage you, to remind you when they see evidence of the bitter root, to pray with you and together strive to become like Jesus.

There is no going back once you have crossed certain lines. For Esau, he couldn't regain his birthright or his blessing. You can't un-ring the bell. Bitter roots lead to broken marriages, broken families, broken people. For some the final answer leads to a divorce, a jail sentence, estrangement from family and friends. There is no going back.

BUT there is going forward. Life is not over. There are still hundreds and thousands of good choices to be made. Esau lost his birthright, but later in life he chose to forgive and reconcile with his brother Jacob. He had a family and a life. Some of us have made mistakes from which there is no going back, only forward. If that is your situation, go forward. Forget what lies behind. Press onto what lies ahead.  You've lost something you can't get back, but God still has tons, scads, mountains of grace for you. He's not finished with you. There is a hope and a future.

If you are considering a final answer that you know (and you do know it) that is going to ruin your life, stop now. Ask for help? Heb 12 says that God's grace is available to you to help you. Get the bitter root out before it is too late. And if you haven't got to that stage yet, great. Don't go there. Don't let temptation find a landing place in your heart. Don't allow the seed to sprout roots.  Take hold of God's grace and don't let go.