During this Holiday Season I need this verse in front of me constantly! So much to do, so little time, that sometimes I get very impatient. And what’s so funny, is that all those long lines are made up of the same impatient people that don’t want to be there either! This Scripture tells us to always try to be kind…goodhearted, and considerate to each other…even in the Holiday rush and crush of people. And if we can stop, take a deep breath, and consider the big picture of what Christmas really means…our agenda and plans will pale in comparison. So just think for a moment…it doesn’t take much effort to show kindness rather than being insensitive and rude.
After Job’s three friends had been unable to win their argument that he, (Job), was being punished by God… a young man by the name of Elihu stood to speak. (Now you can read his entire speech in Chapters 32-37 of Job.) Elihu’s assertion was that God was instructing or teaching Job…that even in all the trials and suffering he was going through, Job was to trust God. (Interestingly enough, when God started to speak, He never condemned Elihu’s words like He did Job’s and his three friends!) Now the Lord allows righteous people to suffer and go through trials everyday…but it’s not out of punishment, but to strengthen their faith and trust in Him. And when we should wander from the truth, God faithfully keeps bringing us back, that we may see the error of our way and turn. (James 5:19)
You may know Matthew by his original name…Levi, a turncoat tax collector who Jesus called in Capernaum. He was chosen by Jesus as one of the Twelve disciples…and given a new life along with a new name. But in this Scripture we find Jesus at Matthew’s house having a meal with all these “sinners” much to the disgust of the religious leaders who incredulously asked His disciples how Jesus could do this. Knowing their thoughts and their hearts, Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 when He replied to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” In other words, our mission as Christians is to share the Gospel Message with sinners…people who may look and act very differently from us, but still need to hear that they can be healed and forgiven of their sins.
“Following the Word of the Lord…” Though sometimes, that still small voice of the Holy Spirit is almost drowned out by the incessant noise of the world. Romans 8:14 tells us that, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” But following the Word of the Lord takes practice… it takes listening carefully, and obeying immediately when prompted, without hesitation…for when we stop to debate if it’s of God or not, we’ll usually not move on it…and His work stops there. By attuning our ears to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit, we are being led down the correct path of life and accomplishing God’s work for His glory.
To carry out the Law of Christ here, we must first know what it is. James 2:8 tells us, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” When we bear other’s burdens in a way we would want to be treated, we are fulfilling the royal law of King Jesus. But what does this look like? It’s done with compassion and love in a nonjudgmental way…listening attentively and always speaking the truth of God’s word. It’s inspiring hope in places of sadness and always it’s done with integrity, and trustworthiness.
Humans and religion have always gotten into trouble when they attempted to overlay the Word of God with ritual and tradition. So the message in the Scriptures above are quite simple…don’t even think of adding to or subtracting from what it says in the Bible. We are reminded of the authority and sufficiency of the word of God in II Timothy 3:16 that reads, “All of Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Bible contains everything we need for salvation, trust, hope, and love….its words more than adequate to meet every need and accomplish God’s divine purpose in our life.
When a close friend takes the time to give you sincere advice…you listen. Why? Because first, they know you, what you’ve come through, and what is happening right now in your life. To you, they have credibility… for often they can perceive things you are blind to…or sadly, choose to be blind to. Finally, you trust them and their wise advice…for you know it comes from that deep place in their soul that loves and cares for you. I’ve just finished 30 classroom hours of Biblical Counseling and it has opened my eyes to how often we counsel people in our everyday walk. Just think how many times a day you minister to the hearts of family and friends with earnest counsel. So in a way, we are all Counselors…our arm around the person, pointing to the Cross.