Study # 77
March 24, 1999
:A MOST critical issue of our attitudes toward those "others-caused" circumstances of our lives that we least appreciate is whether we are willing to submit to them without a sense of necessity to escape.
:In the larger context of this passage, we have seen that the believers have been subjected to two situations that are unpleasant, to say the least, and deadly, to say the most. On the unpleasant end of their circumstances as they involve the powerful ungodly is their being cheated out of their just wages. On the deadly end of those circumstances is their persecution unto condemnation by legal authorities.
Then, as if that were not enough, these believers have also to deal with those who are not supposed to be adversarial to them because they are brethren, but who are. The plain fact about life in this world is that every single individual in it has an agenda for which he/she will exert every manner of effort.
Another plain fact is that the vast multitude of those individuals are ignorant about two critical questions: 1) IS my agenda a part of the will of God? and 2) is my method of pursuit of my agenda, if it is the will of God, a method prescribed by the Word of God?
And a third, and worst, plain fact is that for the most part, those individuals who are ignorant of the answers to those two questions are deliberately ignorant because they do not care enough about the will and Word of God to try to be in harmony with both.
These plain facts put believers in a bind. Not only will the wicked use whatever force they can to cheat us, but our own brethren will block our pursuit of our agendas in favor of their own...even if we believe and can show that ours is God's.
So, how are we to live in this predicament?
- I. First, We Are to Adopt Job and the Prophets As Our Models.
- A. The prophets are to be our models in view of the problem of unfulfilled expectation.
- 1. They spoke the words of God.
- 2. In their speaking they said things that were not going to be done in their lifetime.
- 3. They had to endure the scepticism and ridicule of those who had the short-term issue of time and unfulfillment on their side.
- 4. The issue here is this: if God said it, it is an absolutely sure thing and we are to count on that.
- B. Job is to be our model in view of the problem of painful opposition by the very powerful and irritating opposition by "brethren".
- 1. Job's life sparked Satan's activity.
- 2. Job's wife and friends abandoned him in the circumstances.
- C. The universal conclusion from the perspective of the long term is that they were blessed.
- II. Second, We Are to Commit to the Character of God as Full of Compassion and Tender Mercies.
- A. This is not a "distortion" suggestion...balance is maintained by retaining the models as our point of perspective--people who were committed to the will and word of God.
- B. But, having that commitment, we are to focus upon God as compassionate and merciful.
- III. Third, We Are to Flatly Refuse to Adopt the Escape at Any Cost Mentality.
- A. James says "Above all..."
- B. James addresses the issue of making "oaths" as a way to focus on the level of determination to get out from under the circumstances.
- 1. It is not wrong to seek a way out...yes, yes, and no, no.
- 2. But it is wrong to determine to escape no matter what.