Verbal histories from our elderly family members give us insight into just where we come from. Those precious stories are filled with important events, human struggles, and surprising accounts of things we had no prior knowledge of. Within those verbal histories, we hear bits of wisdom, sage advice, personal warnings, and lots of humor. With our own ears we listen as important information is given to us about the past. But have you ever thought about how important it is to give a “verbal history” to your children or grandchildren about God’s influence in your life? A once I was… but now I am… testimony showing the Lord’s redemptive power over sin in your life is more important than any other story you could share with them.
Without hesitation I know you’d answer a resounding “Yes!” to my question of whether you’d die for your spouse or children. But if we look closely at this verse, we’re not being asked to do that. Rather, we’re being directed to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians . OK wait, you want me to sacrifice for who? My family is one thing, but a neighbor or friend or somebody I hardly know at Church…I don’t know if I can do that. But when Jesus died on that Cross He didn’t pick and choose who He was dying for…He died for all. In John 10:11 it says, ” I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” To love one another with the Agape love that Christ first showed us is to be willing to be poured out like a drink offering for our brothers…regardless of who they are.
God could easily use the powerful and super-intelligent to move His Kingdom forward…but He doesn’t. He could utilize those who are idolized and obsessed over…but He chooses not to. God would rather select those who the world would view as ridiculous to direct the course of redemptive history. Verses 28-29 go on to say, “He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.” God uses everyday, common, ordinary people to do extraordinary work for Him on a regular basis. He takes the nonsensical and creates the incredible. All He needs is a willing heart and spirit.
Cain had worked the soil, giving the Lord grain offerings…while Abel kept flocks, giving the Lord fat portions from the animals. On Abel’s offerings God looked favorably, while on Cain’s He did not. But it may have had nothing to do with the physical offerings themselves, but rather in the men’s attitude bringing it before God. Attitude we see here in this verse when God asks Cain where his brother is…(as if God didn’t already know what had happened.) God was testing Cain to see if he would be honest and take responsibility for his actions…but instead, Cain retorted back to God with lies and anger.
If the Lord Almighty is defending my cause…why do I always feel compelled to justify or explain myself? If God is contending for me in a dispute…why do I need to somehow prove myself right also? St. Augustine was correct when he prayed, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” We have this fleshly desire to be right…to explain ourselves away until everyone finally agrees with us…but if you look at Jesus teaching among the crowds, He never explained anything or made excuses for Himself. He left the misunderstandings and misconceptions of others to correct themselves.
Romans 12:17 tells us to, “not repay anyone evil for evil”…and I Corinthians 13:6 reminds us that, “Love doesn’t delight in evil.” The war of words is waged on a bloody battlefield… with many casualties and walking wounded that never recover from the pain inflicted by unkind and caustic words. When we simply take a moment and answer a mean verbal attack with kindness instead…it defuses the situation immediately…for we deprive the enemy of ammunition.
When your motive of ministry to others is true…it is not only empowered by the Holy Spirit, but it’s powerful… impacting the total person. Your ministry doesn’t just tickle them with feel good, wishy-washy platitudes…it challenges them to a higher calling. The Christian journey should be an ever upwards climb filled with trials and tests that make us better…not a passive, apathetic walk where we are left weak and ineffective for the Lord.