This morning, I saw a familiar verse quoted on a friend’s page. Here it is in the NASB:
“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;” (Heb 12:14-15 NASB)
But my friend also quoted it in the Amplified version:
“Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. 15 Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it” (Heb 12:14-15, Amplified)
Usually, Heb 12:15 is quoted to encourage folks to examine themselves and keep bitterness out of their own lives. And that is true, we do need to examine ourselves and our attitudes. But what struck me this morning was the extra emphasis in the Amplified: “Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another].” We’re not just supposed to look after ourselves! If we are in a community together, we should be watching out for one another.
Bitterness is a deeply personal thing… but it’s also something that, frankly, others can clearly see long before the bitter person is conscious of it himself/herself. Unfortunately, many times, we don’t “look after one another” in this regard… but look down on one another and avoid the issue. We recognize the sinful attitude of the bitter person and condemn them to isolation without extending the grace that could not only heal them but prevent much damage to others as well.
When I see v 15 this way, it makes me look at verses 12-13 differently as well:
“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” (Heb 12:12-13 NASB)
We are all members of one body. I pray that I might become one who heals rather than one who puts things out of joint.