best friend, death and life, encourage, exhort, facebook, great patience, opposite, pinterest, priority, rebuke, uplift, well-meaning
I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately. A friend asked all sorts of questions about why God allowed Satan to sift Job. And wouldn’t I be mad if God did that to me? Especially because right before this, God was bragging on how Job was such a great servant of God. I mean, God was bragging! Can you imagine God bragging about you?
I think my point of view was kind of mystifying to her. I think it’s because we have become so proud as a people, so all about me, that it’s hard to un-train our minds that maybe this wasn’t about Job at all. Not only is it not all about me, but we’ve been trained that we are the strong ones, we can handle things on our own. And that’s simply NOT the truth. In the Bible it says to “renew our minds” and that only comes from digging into the Truth, the Word of God. Daily. Intentionally. And not go along with a false sense of strength that our culture tells us is the way to handle things.
You see, God tells us that His ways and thoughts are higher and better than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9) We cannot see around the proverbial corner to see the outcome of this trial, or temptation or loss. But God can. I’m thankful that the God I serve knows what’s ahead and He’s not surprised or caught off guard like me.
And we never know who is watching how we handle a fiery dart that’s thrown at us or who the “lesson” is actually for. Again, maybe that dart thrown at me doesn’t have as much to do with me as it does with the neighbor across the street, or a good friend who God is trying to show something to. Then again, maybe the lesson is mine/ours for the learning.
I’ve always heard it put like this; our life is a multi-colored tapestry. God weaves the beautiful colors together; colors of peace, colors of grief or loss, colors of excitement, etc. You get the picture. And if we didn’t include the back or grey or brown, colors which I picture to be trials, sorrow, grief, etc., the picture would not come out as beautiful in the end.
For instance, watching someone like Job who had everything taken away from him would be excruciating. And may I point out that not one of his friends offered to help him out of his problems. All they said was, “Curse God and die”. You may be asking yourself how anyone who is a true friend could actually suggest that! But watch and suggest they did.
And don’t we all have well-meaning friends who suggest that which is ungodly give-in just to take a bit of pressure off of us? Shoot, if I’m totally honest, there have been times when I was that well-meaning friend. Oh, it’s okay that you couldn’t pray or read today. God knows how busy your life is. God will understand. But truthfully, God doesn’t understand.
This blog could go two ways from here. I could talk about how we put God on the back burner and leave Him hanging out to dry while we do all the other ‘more important’ stuff making idols of those things. But you guys have already heard this from a million different sources. Or I could go on to talk about how we, as believers are commanded to be the opposite of that well-meaning friend.
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2 NASB
We are instructed to not only be an encourager, but in these verses, some that are not being preached across many churches in today’s culture, we are to rebuke and reprove, etc. I’ve always said that a true friend is one who tells me what I most don’t want to hear when I most need to hear it. And isn’t that what these verses are saying? Our culture has gone so far down the wormhole that we now have hate speech being prosecuted as a hate crime. Really?
The Bible teaches the direct opposite. When speaking about the tongue and words it says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 But what it’s really saying is that we have to be ready to tell someone they’re on the path of death, that they’ve stumbled and really need to turn back to God. It’s like that bumper sticker that’s around. It says, “Not telling your friends about Jesus is like telling them to go to hell.”
We can’t expect to simply encourage and uplift. We are responsible, too, for letting them know in a loving and humble manner that they have shifted off course and need to make things right with God. In Ezekiel 3:18-21 it says in a nutshell, if we see a friend who is turning away from God and warn him, he will die if he doesn’t change his path. But we will have saved ourselves if we warn him. And it goes on to say that if we warn someone they are headed for death and they turn around, not only are they saved, but so are we. Now you may challenge this because it’s Old Testament; but in Acts 20:26-27, “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.27 For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”
I’ve recently been church hopping and I am distressed to see that most of the messages are all uplifting and all about “me.” Some are like being in a counseling session and talking about personality skills. Others are talking about the prosperity of the Old Testament; “If you can see it God wants you to have it”. Others speak solely about His love and grace and compassion. But so far, nowhere in my travels have I encountered one who speaks of the gospel in its entirety.
“Why does this matter to me,” you may be asking. Because, sisters, we can’t understand God’s true nature and what is required of us if we don’t hear about the whole thing. And we can’t do what’s expected of us, yes things are expected of us as believers, if we don’t have the whole picture about how to proceed.
So back, way, way back, to my friend and her questions, yes I had an answer for her. Actually a few different options like who was supposed to learn the lesson, Job or his friends. And yes I was ready in season and out of season. But that’s because I study and read. I’ve made it a priority to be able to answer the tough questions as God has instructed us to do. And because I pray to have the right words at the right time in the mornings and then again, before I open my mouth when challenged with a question.
So this morning, I’m asking you to take up this challenge. Read every day. Even if you only start with five minutes. And be careful about what you hear from each and every sermon, each and every picture on Pinterest or Facebook that has a “spiritual quote”. Even some of the Bible verses I have seen are incorrectly quoted. And for goodness sake, don’t forget the most important thing; talk to God! Listen to God! Each and every day. In this way you will renew your mind and understand what is the good and perfect will of God our Daddy and be ready with an answer for your friends when they ask a question.
This was a great blog article. Thank you for sharing this. Not an easy one to read at all, but a great message. Continue the great work and GOD bless!!
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Things we haven’t heard for a ling time are not easy. But that’s what friends are for!
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This is very true.
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