See to it that no one falls short of the
grace of God and that no bitter root
grows up to cause trouble and defile
many. Hebrews 12:15

As we see in Hebrews chapter twelve, once we “keep
our eyes fixed on Jesus,”
we will be aware of how we should then live. The writer now turns to the issue
of a growing root of bitterness which defiles
and causes trouble and disunity.

A group of believers in rural Hubei
Province in China came to Christ as a
result of listening to Christian radio
programs. When a local woman was healed
of appendicitis after prayer, two
whole families converted to the way of Jesus
enlarging their group to twenty.
Five years later a Brother Chen arrived in
the village on a sunny spring day.
One believer shares this report:

Some said Brother Chen was “sent
straight from God to our company.” He said so
too. Looking back over a year
later, I think he was Satan’s man. But who
knows, I may be harsh in my
judgment. I remember that night so clearly. We
were all gathered in my
father’s house. The gas lamp flickered strange shapes
against the whitewashed
walls, on which we had stenciled “JESUS IS THE WAY,

I remember Brother Chen saying, “Jesus needs our gold to build our
mansion in
heaven…the more gold we give him now, the bigger your mansion will

Well, we were poor. And because we were poor, the idea of having a
mansion in the afterlife was very tempting to us. We handed over all
we owned:
family heirlooms, money, some expensive textiles from a distant
ancestor. One
in our group even gave his motorcycle, which he had saved for
years to buy.
Anyway, after all the “gold” had been collected, Brother Chen
said he had to
go and “open the gate for us.” He left, on the donated
motorcycle. He took
most of our savings. He hasn’t been back.

Now the
fellowship is ruined. Some of our group believes he is coming back,
and was
indeed sent by God to help us know Jesus better. Others of us believe
he was
a deceiver. It has split my family. My father thinks Chen was a good
man. The
rest of the family thinks differently, but we dare not disagree with
father openly.

We still can’t read the Bible very well. We really don’t
know that much about
Jesus, to be honest. We know he has saved us, and healed
a family member. But
we know little else. Brother Chen’s deceit has made me

RESPONSE: Today I will not allow Satan to grow a root of
bitterness in my life
or in my fellowship.

PRAYER: Lord, help new
believers around the world to recognize Satan’s tactics
and the bitter root
that will keep them in bondage.

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