Thursday, February 19, 2009

Faithfulness In Little Things

Luke 16:10 “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”

Sometimes we tend to think of our character as being what we do in big things, whether or not we are involved in any big sins or not. Yet our character is really shown more in the little things and also when we are under pressure. We also tend to think (at least I did) that as long as we will know when we face a life-changing decision and that as long as we make the right choice in a big decision we will be fine.

With that said, I would like to look at a few examples of people whose seemingly small decisions had further reaching consequences than they expected. In these situations they also did not realize they were on trial, they were not on their best behavior, so-to-speak, but acted entirely within their character, just as we would in their place.

In Exodus 2:15 Moses had just been forced to flee Egypt after having killed an Egyptian he saw beating a Hebrew. His aiding one of his own people had not gotten him anywhere, it earned him no thanks from his own people and even endangered his life. Yet as he sat at the well and saw men driving away the daughters of Jethro from the well, he went to their defense. It was certainly a low point in his life as he sat there, and his past experiences would not have caused him to expect any good to come of his actions. However because he rose to the defense of Jethro’s daughters he unwittingly provided himself with a place to stay, a position of employment, and a wife. From this also came his later call back to Egypt. All this because he was willing to oppose injustice, and aid the oppressed, even in his own time of difficulty.

Rebekah also did not know she was on trial as she offered to give water to the camels as well as the man. That act of generosity, which was likely not a solitary act, but a way of life for her, opened the door for her to be partaker of the promises given to Abraham and to have part in the lineage of the Messiah (Gen. 24:15-21).

In the negative, the unknown man in Ruth (Ruth 4:1-8) did not know the inheritance he was refusing when he refused to be redeemer to Ruth. He lost the opportunity to have his name written in the eternal Word of God and instead is mentioned as, “so and so.” He lost his place as an ancestor of King David and ultimately of Jesus Christ. What cost him this place, only one small act of selfishness. He refused to do part of a redeemer, because he did not want the expense of buying the property which would go the firstborn of the union with Ruth, who would not bear his name. He had no idea he was on trial and it cost him.

Lastly, Judah had no realization that he was on trial, when he offered to take the place of Benjamin as a slave so that Benjamin could return to the father (Gen. 44). Yet somehow as he did that the focus shifted to him as the one from whom would come the kingship and eventually the Lion of Judah, who would Himself suffer for others so they could return to the Father. God looking back at that event says, “Judah prevailed over his brethren.” No one realized there was a contest, but his self-denial won him a crown he did not even know existed.

In the same way we may have many little opportunities to show forth the character of Christ, we may never know until eternity what the consequences are. So let us be faithful in the little things!

Friday, February 06, 2009

First Week of Bible School

Monday morning was an interesting beginning to our term. We start classes on Tuesday and spent Monday morning with last minute preparations and welcoming students. It began however with a power loss at 6:00 am. Power came back on at 12:30 and then went off again around 2:30 and only returned at 10:00 that night. It has been similar the rest of the week. So right now (Thursday afternoon) I am debating about going into town to do email. If it continues like this (and it should, because they had a problem with flotsam that got sucked into the hydro-turbines at the power-station) then just as I get to the internet cafĂ© we will lose power. They may have it fixed by the end of the week, we all hope so. This is the hottest month of the year here so at least I’ve had power to run my fan at night. As of now (Friday afternoon) it looks like everything is working well, we’ve had power all day. Our water situation isn’t great right now, but maybe if the water board now has electricity it might improve soon. We only got in 100 litres last night and while we still have water for drinking, any other uses are going to have to be scaled back. We might get more in tonight, we pray so.
We have 22 students at last count, 2 from Mozambique who just arrived today. It has been a while since we had any from outside Malawi. I will be teaching the next 2 weeks. Dad is teaching this week and the last week. I will be teaching Romans which marks the start of the cycle I began 2 years ago.
Otherwise things are well here. We are going to be having one of our fellowship’s leaders, Pastor Tucker and his wife, here for a few days in the third week of our term. Hopefully things will be running smoothly while they are here, it isn’t nice having guests if you don’t have water for them to shower etc...

The Lord is Gracious

Recently I was thinking a little bit about the graciousness of God. His graciousness is a part of His character, and an important one since it is the second one He announced before Moses (Ex. 34:6). When we deal with attributes of God’s character, it is important to understand that God is immutable. He does not change, and His character does not change. We – humans change in character as we grow either more like God or more like the devil. Our character is mutable because we were created. It is formable because we were formed, and we will be formed, by one of two potters. God however, was merciful, before there was a need for mercy. His mercy existed before sin did, it merely lacked an outlet. Likewise God was gracious long before there were any beings to be gracious to. Graciousness can only be shown to inferiors (inferiors in morals, or in strength, or in wisdom), and thus it never had expression in the Godhead prior to the creation of other beings.
Graciousness is really what allows God to have fellowship with man. Even before the fall it was graciousness that enabled fellowship. Why should God desire fellowship with man? He desires to talk with us even though He knows what we will say and nothing we say can improve His knowledge of things. He was complete before we were formed and does not need us. Yet, He is the one that initiated the relationship, both before and after the fall. It is His graciousness and humility that cause Him to do this.
My definition of graciousness is “the art of condescending without being condescending.” Really this is only possible for a humble and selfless being. False graciousness may reach out to the needy, but it ensures that the one in need knows and feels the inferiority. It is God’s graciousness that enables Him to give wisdom to any that ask for it and to not upbraid them (James 1:5). The word upbraid here has the thought of a cutting remark made along with the proffered help. Like someone giving a homeless person the help he requests but adding something like, “you bum, get a job!” along with it. God is gracious, he knows our lack of wisdom better than we do and yet He will never rebuke us for that if we ask Him for wisdom, He will merely give us wisdom.
As in all things Jesus was a perfect image of His Father’s graciousness. Not only did He lower Himself to come as a man, yet as a man, he was gracious. To the outcast Samaritan woman at the well, drawing water at noon - a sure sign of untouchableness, He conversed freely and without prejudice.
In my own life I have at times been struck by the graciousness of God. I think of all the times when I have felt His presence, and how at ease He always puts me. There are hundreds of things He could point out that are wrong and many reasons that He should not even bother with me and yet He does anyway. And though at times He may bring conviction yet ultimately He moves the focus from me to Him and when I am in His presence it is easy to forget just how condescending He is being by being there. Why does He do it? The Lord is gracious!