Reading Scripture: Hebrews 11:1-3
Verse to Memorize: Hebrews 11:1
Reference: Romans 9:3
Goal: to help believers have true faith so that they can speak words of goodness, love souls whom God has entrusted to them, and obey His Word
If you have faith, you can lead a Christian life in assurance of Heaven and Hell even though you have never seen and touched them. Moreover, if your faith becomes greater, with the manifestations of His power you can show that God is alive and then give glory to Him. Then, what is your faith like? Do you have the faith of pure gold with which you can please God? Or, is your faith seemingly good only on the outside like metal plated with gold? I hope you will check yourselves by reflecting upon the following three points.
1. Watching over Words from Your Mouth
In regard to watching over the words from your mouth, we are going to focus on David and Shimei. David received great love from God and became the king of Israel. However, he committed a transgression: he arranged for his faithful subordinate to be struck down in warfare in order to conceal his wrongdoing. Due to this incident, he had to receive the great reprimand of God. One of these was the rebellion of his son, Absalom, against him.
An incident occurred when David was on the run from his son who was trying to kill him. A man named Shimei cursed and gravely insulted David saying, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow! The LORD has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!” (2 Samuel 16:7-8)
But Shimei’s words were never true. Saul’s death was caused by his own sins. It had nothing to do with David. Furthermore, David’s suffering did not come from God’s curse or abandonment. He had already repented and received forgiveness from God. The affliction he was suffering was allowed to refine him for complete blessing in God’s justice.
Now Shimei cursed the king who was anointed by God, so he actually should have been put to death. At that time, many people, including many mighty men, remained faithful to and stayed with David. Consequently, he could have let them kill Shimei. However, David did not reply to his curse and even stopped his mighty men who wanted to kill him, saying, “Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him.” David knew that all his sufferings were the trials that God allowed, and lowered himself completely before God.
On the contrary, Shimei who cursed David was a lot different. He was the Benjamite from the house of King Saul. He blamed Saul’s death on David and had a grudge against him. He even took God’s name in vain and vented his anger on David. He did not feel any compassion on David who was in trials, but he just revealed his evil to David. It tells us how evil his original nature was.
Then, what kind of words do you speak? What would you do if someone criticized you with false words like Shimei did to David? Wouldn’t you think, ‘I am already in trouble and he adds even these difficulties to me. Why is he acting like this toward me?’ Would you become irritated and say something evil that hurts him? If you did that way, it just shows how small your faith is. Furthermore, if we judge and condemn others in our own evilness and curse them, it cannot be said that we have faith in God. Those with true faith can overcome evil with goodness in any kind of difficult situation.
2. Love for Souls
Here, we are going to delve into Elisha and the apostle Paul. Elisha received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and manifested many powerful works. Through him Naaman’s leprosy was cleansed and a dead son of a prominent woman was revived, and he got rid of harm in stew and made the axe head that fell in water, float. He manifested many miraculous works.
But it does not mean Elisha was worthy to receive such power for himself. The power given to him through Elijah his teacher, and he could manifest such powerful works. But there is a big difference between the heart of Elisha and the heart of the apostle Paul who performed so many powerful works in New Testament times.
One day, Elisha was on the way to Bethel when young lads came out of a city and mocked him in great disrespect. Unable to bear with it, he ended up cursing them. Then, two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number (2 Kings 2:24). Elisha knew the power of his tongue so he must have tried to pretend not to listen to them and avoid them at first. But when dozens of them followed him and bothered him too much, being unable to endure it any longer he eventually cursed them.
What do you think the apostle Paul would do in the same situation? The sufferings Paul had to take while preaching the gospel was incomparable to Elisha’s. More than 40 Jews bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they killed Paul. Many people tried to hinder his work and kill him everywhere he preached. He was stoned until he almost died, and he was beaten countless times. He was also imprisoned. Even when he was in such great afflictions and threats he did not speak of any curses to those who persecuted him.
Paul, on the other hand, said, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). It means that he could go to Hell as long as it made it possible for the Jews to receive salvation even though they harshly persecuted him.
Then, what kind of love do you have for souls? I hope you will check your heart for souls and how you have performed your God-given duties. God recognizes you as a true worker and takes delights in you when you are faithful with love for souls from the bottom of your heart.
As for obedience, we will look into the obedience of Joseph and King Saul. At the age of 17, Joseph was sold into Egypt by his half brothers and went through many kinds of hardships for 13 years. But he had firm faith that God was with him no matter how difficult the situation was that he was in.
He tried his best in everything with sincerity and faithfulness when he was a slave. He did not feel sorry when he was wrongfully accused and was imprisoned. He just committed everything to God. He unchangingly obeyed the will and providence of God. When he met his brothers who had come close to killing him and sold him to the foreign country, he acted in goodness in the guidance of God and according to His will. It did not even come to mind that he had to forgive them since it was all in God’s providence and he did not have intentions to seek revenge at all. He just loved and forgave them from the bottom of his heart.
Let’s think about ourselves. Let’s suppose a parish had an event. Now one of the district groups that belong to the parish had to give up an advantage and willingly gave it up. But later in every event of the parish, situations go in the way the same district group kept yielding again and again. Then, the group members came to feel uncomfortable because it seemed that it was only their group which suffered loss all the time. They tried to serve others and lowered themselves at first, but they came to feel disheartened since their services went unrewarded.
If you want to obey the will of God as His worker, your service or yielding should not be temporary. Rather you must accomplish the heart of the truth that pleases God. If your willingness to obey was changed with the passing of time or due to the disagreement of thoughts with others, it means that you have not achieved the spiritual heart that God wants. It can’t be said that you have trusted God until the end. God looks for a worker who can voluntarily obey Him in any situation although something does not agree with his thought.
King Saul was also used as God’s instrument at first. But he kept disobeying Him so he was eventually forsaken. God had told him to go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has; all men and even all livestock. But Saul spared the king of Amalek and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good. But he boldly said, “I have carried out the command of the LORD.” He said this because he had attacked Amalek just as God had said and achieved great victory.
Even when Samuel the prophet pointed out that he had spared the best of animals, Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed” (1 Samuel 15:15). What God really wants is perfect obedience. You must not change His command even a little bit in your thought or for your benefit. You must obey His command exactly as He commands you to do.
I hope you will closely check whether you are leading a life of obedience in the will of God with a heart like that of Joseph or you are going in the opposite direction from the will of God by corrupting it by using your own thoughts like King Saul.