Most of us don’t know what it means to be persecuted for the Gospel…to suffer for our beliefs…enduring hardship for the sake of His name. Most of us have never persevered under threat of bodily harm…or death, in order to reach others for Jesus. So why then do we lose heart and become offended so easily when we meet opposition? Suddenly it’s not fun anymore and we don’t like how we’re being treated…so we quit. Galatians 6:9 tells us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Not giving up means surrendering our life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and looking to Him as our example of righteous tenacity.
Jesus had called Lazarus from the grave, and out he stumbled. But he was still bound by the grave-clothes wound around his body and face. Others had placed these winding cloths on him, and now it took others to free him from them. When we become a Believer we are raised from the dead unto eternal life, but for many of us, we continue to wear the trappings of the tomb. These hindrances cling to us like grave-clothes, impeding our movement forward and blinding us from the truth. And just like Lazarus, it was someone else that placed them on us, binding us up in sin, addiction, and pain. So it takes others to free us from these grave clothes…to come along side to encourage, exhort, and unloose the sins that still bind us to the past.
It’s easy to trust the Lord when everything is going great in our lives. When we’re happy and healthy and all around us is peaceful…it’s almost effortless to put our faith in God. But it’s what happens when the unexpected and the unanticipated crash into our lives that really shows how rooted and grounded we are in Him. Droughts are long dry spells when rain doesn’t fall…the plants wither and the ground cracks. There are times when all of us can go through “spiritual” dry spells. Times when our soul seems parched, our body is withering, and our mind cracking under the stress… and we feel God is so far away. But if we’re firmly rooted in the streams of living water, regardless of the trial, we can still flourish and grow.
The Apostle Paul was encouraging Timothy to stand up for himself as a Pastor, even though he was considered young for the position. Paul admonished him to behave in such an exemplary way, with integrity and confidence, that no one within the Church would question his assignment. Timothy was to lead by example…his way of life on constant display for others to imitate and follow. I would then challenge all of you who are also considered “young”…don’t think being youthful is an excuse to not set a good example. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t influence others for Christ while modeling God’s love to the world.
As we look at this verse, we’re reminded in Isaiah 40:14, “Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed Him the path of understanding?” The short answer is no one! Only God Himself is the source of all truth. He is the origin of all reality as we know it…from Him alone is the beginning of all trustworthiness we can place our faith in. No one has ever instructed the Lord in how to run the universe, or make good decisions. He’s never asked for advice or counsel in a difficult situation. For from the beginning of time God has been the God of truth, exercising justice and rule over all.
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.
Man has always willfully rebelled and rejected God. But God looked past that rejection and sent His Son into the world to save it. Jesus Christ took upon Himself the punishment for the sins of all mankind…He willingly was broken, wounded and killed that we might live. Romans 4:25 tells us, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Today we have that blessed assurance of righteousness through Christ Jesus…and as we look at the empty cross and tomb, we can with confidence proclaim…He is not there, He is risen!