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Healing the “out of joint.”

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.

3 Responses to “Healing the “out of joint.””

  • Pat Rogers says:

    I so needed to read this and right at this very moment. I love how God is so good to us and meets our needs. There is much in these verses. I do agree with you concerning the damage that can be done to others and the attitude of looking down on those who are obviously struggling with anger, bitterness etc. I guess my question is how do we protect others and not allow the person that is bitter to continue to hurt and damage others and still minister to them? Without putting them out (isolation) and away from others they are harming????

  • Jenni says:

    Pat, that’s a really great question… and one that I’ve still been processing myself. I think there are a few different aspects of this… and I might explore it more in a future post… but here’s what I’ve been chewing on so far:

    I believe there are ways to address this issue without necessarily being confrontational (which can actually do more damage).

    First, there’s a “pastoral” way: look past the bitterness to the hurt that lies beneath, and address that. And it does’t necessarily have to be a pastor who does it. I see this happen when someone (especially someone whom the bitter person respects) basically takes them aside to say ‘Hey, I care about you and it seems like something’s bothering you. Is something going on? How can I pray for you?’ That may seem like a small gesture, but honestly… I believe that there are a lot of hurting folks out there who just want to be loved, and if just one person would sincerely reach out to them — especially if they do it sooner rather than later — it would change their world and diffuse a situation that could have grown into something much worse.

    It’s also important to pay attention to and care for those who may have been hurt by the person who is dealing with bitterness… especially if the bitter person is in a position of influence or leadership (which, really, they shouldn’t be if it’s a chronic thing in their lives… but even leaders are subject to falling into bitterness on occasion!)

    We can’t prevent people from getting hurt… but just as in medicine, injuries and infections often have easy remedies when they’re dealt with early enough… but can become fatal if ignored for too long. If we are the Body of Christ, we need to watch out not just for ourselves but for each other. Unfortunately, our western mindset says that self-reliance and independence are paramount… but if we are truly going to be the Body of Christ on earth, we need to stay connected enough to care about each other, and close enough to recognize and bring healing at the at the very first hint that something’s not right.

  • Ned Todorov says:

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer gives the best answer to your question in the first chapter of “The Cost of Discipleship”, which by the way fits perfectly with the comment on the verse above.
    I think,that is the best description how to serve “tough” love in a nice and tender way, that will arouse the desire for “sanctification without which no one will see the Lord”