Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 8 September 2022:
How do you make important decisions when God hasn’t told you specifically what to do?
1 Samuel 13:13-14 – “And Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue….’”
What do you do when you are at a decision point or a crisis point, and God doesn’t seem to be giving you clear answers or an obvious solution? When God doesn’t seem to be giving you a specific word, the first step to decision-making is to prayerfully obey what God has already told you through His word. However, when Saul faced an apparent crisis, he did not find it expedient to obey God’s command to Him given to Him through Samuel – Saul trusted his own judgment over God’s word. He simply couldn’t wait for the Lord in faithful, trusting obedience to Him – ‘If God is not going to take action at this critical time, I must do it myself.’ What appeared to him to be a small compromise on his part cost him everything.
- Psalm 27:14 — Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
- Psalm 37:7, 9 — Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!… For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
- Psalm 40:1 — I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
- Psalm 62:5 — For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
- Isaiah 26:8 — In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.
- Isaiah 40:31 — But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
- Romans 8:25 — But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
- Lamentations 3:26 — It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Instead of waiting for the Lord in obedience, Saul disobeyed God under the pretext of worshipping God, by making a ‘sacrifice’ for the Lord, a sacrifice that was really no sacrifice at all, rather an insult before the Lord, a denial of the Sovereignty of God, an act of cosmic treason!
When Samuel arrives and confronts Saul, rather than demonstrating repentance, Saul makes excuses, justifies His actions, and downplays his terrible sin – “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed… I forced myself.” (vs 11, 12) How might you be justifying sin under the pretext of trying to do good things?
2 Timothy 4:2 — “Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience.”
In a large part, Christians have lost the essential skill of rebuking with patience and gentleness. Some think we shouldn’t be rebuking at all. Others rebuke in harsh, unloving ways. If you truly love others, you must be willing to tell them the truth. If you are truly loving, you will tell the truth in a loving way, for the other person’s benefit rather than yours.
Be careful not to tell the truth merely to get what you want or to defend your own position. Insisting on your own way is ultimately selfish and unloving, and it also makes you the focus rather than Jesus – ambassadors never represent themselves.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 — Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
- Colossians 3:12-17 — Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- Galatians 6:1 — Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
- Ephesians 4:15 — Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ….
- Zechariah 8:16 — These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace.
- Ephesians 4:1-3 — I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- Ephesians 4:25-32 — Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
- 2 Corinthians 13:9, 11 — For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for…. Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
If you can’t speak truth unselfishly and unemotionally, hoping merely for the best for the other party, it is usually best to just keep your mouth shut and pray for them. Never let pride get in the way of your mission of reconciliation – “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to 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 5:18-21)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 8 September 2022: Today, wait upon the LORD prayerfully and obediently before making any big decisions and before confronting others on an issue. When required, after much prayer, “reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience.” Whatever the issue, use it to point to Christ. Make revealing Christ your goal and not the issue, whatever it is. Choose “The Way” over getting your way.