Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 2 May 20:
We can learn much from the lives of others. The biblical accounts of the lives of those chosen by God for His purposes give us many good examples and many bad examples from which to learn. Today, we have been given some good examples by Samuel of how we should live our lives for God’s glory as ministers and messengers of reconciliation. Below are just a few observations for your consideration:
1. Live with a clear conscience.
1 Samuel 12:3, 4 — “Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you. They said, ‘You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.’”
As much as humanly possible, Samuel lived a blameless life with no debts and no secrets, always willing to confess his sins publicly and always willing to make full restitution. Because he diligently sought to honor God with His life, God used him mightily. Samuel understood that the way he lived his life before others affected his ability to perform his primary mission as God’s messenger. Samuel lived with such integrity, that he could confidently stand before everyone and challenge them to name any wrongs he might have committed. Do you live confidently with such personal integrity?
Clearly no one is perfect – “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10, 11) Fortunately, our salvation doesn’t rest on our righteousness (being ‘right’ with God) but rather the righteousness of Christ, who transferred His perfect righteousness to us so me could be ‘right’ with God – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus gave His life on our behalf not just so we could enter into Heaven when we die but rather so that we could experience eternal life now (John 17:3), be freed from sins control over our lives, claim the righteousness we have received in Him, and begin to walk or abide in it now. With the freedom of grace given to us, we are called to pursue holiness, righteousness, and peace in His Name and for His glory with the faith that He will complete in us the good work he started in us (Philippians 1:6) –
– Matthew 6:33 — But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
– Romans 1:17 — For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
– 1 Peter 2:24 — He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
– 1 John 3:7 — Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
– 1 John 2:29 — If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
– 2 Timothy 2:22 — So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
So, we should claim the clear conscience we have in Christ while we guard our clear conscience through obedience to God’s laws of love –
– 1 Timothy 1:5 — The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
– Hebrews 9:14 — How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
– Hebrews 10:22 — Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
– Acts 24:16 — So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.
– Hebrews 13:18 — Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
– 1 Peter 3:15-17 — …but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
Seek to walk confidently with a clear conscience today by claiming your gift of grace through faith in Jesus and, with the power of the Holy Spirit, obey the Law of Love.
2. Make Restitution
“Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” Samuel also adhered to God’s command to make restitution to anyone he had wronged (see Exodus 22, Leviticus 5, Numbers 5). The principle of restitution is something that has largely been forgotten in the modern church, but Proverbs 14:9 says only “fools mock at making restitution.” Often people pray for God’s forgiveness when they wrong another (as they should) and then act as if they owe nothing to the person they have wronged. However, Jesus said, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24) The Bible also says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8, 10) Finally, the Bible explains that when we don’t seek to restore peace with others, it hinders our relationship with God (see 1 Peter 3:7 as an example). To whom do you need to make restitution today?
3. Pray more than you teach.
1 Samuel 12:23 — “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.”
Finally, Samuel prayed for sinful people and was willing to go through the often difficult process of instructing them for their benefit and reconciliation – he prioritized prayer first and foremost. As you see in the verse above, for Samuel, instruction was periodic, but prayer was continuous. Many are ready to instruct, but few are willing to pray. When we instruct, we are tempted to think that our abilities will make the difference. Prayer acknowledges that it is the Spirit which must affect the change in a person. Prayer also reminds us that it is never about us; we are merely instruments used by God for His glory to bring others closer to Him. A good resolution is to not try to teach someone who you have not first committed to pray for continually.
– James 3:1 — Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
– James 5:16 — Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 May 20: If you have not done so already, make a list of your family, church members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for whom you should pray. Pray for them by name today — “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you (1 Samuel 12:23).” Also, make every effort to settle your debts today. If you have offended someone, seek forgiveness from them today and reconcile. Return what you have borrowed, repay what you have taken, and as much as possible, fix what you have broken. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” (Romans 13:8) You may not be able to do it all today, but at least make the commitment and take the first steps.