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; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”
The race of discipleship is a race that is difficult. Have I convinced you yet that the race is hard? I am sure you did not need me to tell you that! We have been looking at the reasons God places us in Adversity University and the kind of coursework He prepares for us. Now, I want to give you a caution – the story of what happens when we decide to drop out of school. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it hurts. But, we have to stay in the race. The costs of dropping out are just too high.
Change of Goals. First, when we drop out, our goals change. Verse fourteen tells us to “follow peace”. This is a very strong word. In fact, in our New Testament it is most frequently translated as “persecute” because the idea of the word is to pursue with such determination that nothing can stop you from reaching the goal. Why was it important for Esau to follow peace? Esau was in a difficult family situation. His parents, Isaac and Rebekah, had to wait twenty years before they had children; and when they did, they had twins. Before they were born, God said that the elder would serve the younger. Esau was born first, which meant that according to God’s plan, he would have to serve Jacob. If that were not enough, there was another area of contention. Isaac loved Esau, and Rebekah loved Jacob. It is dangerous for parents to show favoritism among their children, but that was the case in Esau’s home.
Change of Insight. Second, when we drop out, our insights change. Verse fourteen also says “without which, no man shall see the Lord”. When it talks about seeing God here, it is not talking about salvation. Hebrews is written to people who are already saved. It is talking about our vision of God; if you go back to verse two it says, “Looking unto Jesus”. What we lose is the ability to see God in the midst of our adversity. As long as Peter looked at Jesus, he stayed on top of the water. When he focused on the storm and the waves, he started to sink. A place of adversity without Jesus is the loneliest place imaginable. We start looking around and ask, “Why is this happening to me? I don’t understand.” That is where we end up when we quit – blinded by the side of the track.
Change of Values. Third, when we drop out, our values change. The things that used to be important to us when we were right with God are suddenly not important anymore. Verse fifteen says, “Lest there be any fornicator…” The word “fornicator” is the Greek word pornos, from which we get the word pornography. The root meaning of the word is “to put up for sale”. When we quit Adversity University, our values change so much that we are even willing to sell our purity and pollute our personal lives. Where once you wanted to be pure and holy from a heart of integrity, now you want to gratify your desires. If you love God properly, you would rather die than displease Him. Once you drop out, your values change. The things that once mattered before no longer matter to you.
Change of Future. Before you get back in school though, you are going to have to go back to the Master and beg for His forgiveness and candidly, transparently admit your sin. Let me tell you what that process is going to look like. He is going to test your sincerity and commitment by having you go back to people who were impacted by your quitting and make things right with them. You may say that it is impossible; and it is impossible in your own strength. But, if you do not fail of the grace of God, the grace of God will never fail you. He will help you make things right.