Wednesday, April 27, 2005

God's Object Lessons

We can all fall victim to a loss of hope at times when we fall. Sometimes the fall can be misfortune, more often it can be something inside us. For some, it might be despair, a lack of assurance in the promises of God, or even doubt or disbelief of any promise at all. For others, it may be sin that tugs at conscience or whose consequences play out to the frustration of their host.

Yet God, in Proverbs 24, goes so far as to warn anyone who may do us harm:

15Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous;
Do not plunder his resting place;
16For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.
God doesn't expect perfection, only He could create it, and that in His original works. He may have made each of us for a purpose, but He knows the vessels in whom His purposes are fulfilled. God worked through Cyrus, speaking through Isaiah:

4For Jacob My servant's sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.

As He can work through even those who do not know Him, all the more that He can work through us who try to follow Him. He works with us before we stumble, He is there for us when we stumble, and He wants us to remember the stumbling long after our bruises have healed.

17Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
18Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him,
And He turn away His wrath from him.
It's in our nature to want to see evil repaid with wrath, to see vengeance in our presence when we see or experience wrong. But it just isn't our place. God's perfect will may allow evil to flourish for a season, but it is not in any kind of payment to the evildoer, and eventually his lamp will be put out:

19Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the wicked;
20For there will be no prospect for the evil man;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.
We worry so much about the affairs of others. We catalog their sins. We mind their business, we know exactly what's wrong with them, and we know what they need to do. If a mirror were to suddenly fall in front of us at those times, how many of us would see ourselves, and how many would think they were still taking inventory of their neighbor?

We are to see evil and sloth, inattentiveness to God and obedience to the earthly failings of this earth. Our job is to properly apprehend what we see, and comprehend what it means -- lest we fall prey to the same conceits:

30I went by the field of the lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
31And there it was, all overgrown with thorns;
Its surface was covered with nettles;
Its stone wall was broken down.
32When I saw it, I considered it well;
I looked on it and received instruction:
33A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest;
34So shall your poverty come like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.
God provides us these valuable object lessons in the form of other people's experiences. (And often, our own. As we can so easilt find ourselves on the other side of the glass, it behooves us to have compassion on the examples we see around us.


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