Don’t worry if you grow more than others in the Lord
Praise be to the Lord God who provides the seed of His word and the faith to work on it. By intercession of Christ Jesus our Saviour we keep ever growing in spirit and knowledge. O Holy Spirit lead us into all truth and keep us away from lethargy and false counsel.
We are called to grow in the Lord God. There are no exceptions to this. No need to worry if others don’t grow as much as you do.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
Be like Samuel the Prophet who didn’t ignore the Word of God but kept it in all earnest. Samuel’s duty was to grow in the knowledge that God gave him. He didn’t focus on those who didn’t but kept to his task. (Prophet Samuel later in life went on to annoint David as the king of Israel – refer to 1 Samuel 16:1-13 for this). He never gave up his spiritual growth though his mentor Eli’s sons grew in wickedness (Click here if you want to know a lesson about Eli).
And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord.(1 Samuel 3:19-20)
You might not know the future but there may be people who one day will need your help. It might be your own family members who might need counsel on life changing decisions. You may have to cast out evil spirits from the possessed people who turn to you. Or you just have to be a good Samaritan to those in danger. But God knows best what good you are to do. What matters then is whether you decide to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ. Because that’s the very thing which will help you with doing all the good works that God has set forth before you. By this you can give glory to God and be a good neighbor to those in need.
Suppose you feel upset that others are not growing in the Lord God, then do not despair. You can intercede for them. And wherever possible even directly help them grow. But never be too proud of your growth and so end up displeasing God. Also take care not to slow down on your growth in Spirit. Because neither will it help others grow nor will it give glory to God.
Christ be with you!
A lesson from Eli’s life – correcting others before they cause your downfall
Praise be God who gives wisdom to those who believe in him. We pray that each one who comes to Christ desires to please the Lord God by walking in true wisdom and integrity. May the Holy Spirit reveal to us everything and everyone that we can correct in our lives. Amen
Eli the priest at Shiloh was a priest of the Lord God. He had done some remarkably good deeds such as praying that the barren Hannah gives birth a child and also that the child Samuel comes to know of his prophetic calling for God. Despite all this he didn’t have a happy ending. This is quite a tragedy considering he was a devout man of God in most of his actions except one.
So what went wrong for him?
I answer that by pointing to what the Lord God revealed to the child Samuel which is nothing less than the judgment against Eli’s family. Let’s read the following verses (1 Samuel 3: 8-14) to get the true picture:
8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
You might want to read 1 Samuel 3: 8-14 mentioned above once again that the seriousness of the judgment of God against Eli’s family sinks in really well. Just imagine, how would a child react if receives his first ever prophecy and he is told that his mentor’s family is going to be punished because of blasphemy against God. Now, the Lord God didn’t want to keep this child clueless as to why it was going to happen. It was clearly mentioned that Eli was forewarned about the highly immoral behavior of his sons in the house of worship of the Lord God.
So what exactly were Eli’s sons misdeeds?
12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 13 The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” 16 And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt. (1 Samuel 2: 12-17)
What was Eli’s reaction to the crimes of his sons?
22 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death. (1 Samuel 2: 22-25)
Well Eli did rebuke them but that’s it. The Lord God expected Eli to restrain his sons but then Eli didn’t stop them from continuing in their evil. Though he knew his sons had immoral affairs with women he didn’t really do anything that would have made an effective stop to their wickedness.
Was Samuel the only one who received the prophecy of judgment against Eli’s family?
Samuel was never the only one in this matter. There’s another prophet mentioned in 1 Samuel 2:27-36 who is not identified by name but only as a man of God. He declared by the Lord God that Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas shall both die on the same day as a sign to Eli for their wickedness.
What happened to Eli and his family after receiving the prophecy from Samuel?
10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home. And there was a very great slaughter, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. 11 And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. (1 Samuel 4:10-11)
When Eli asked the man of Benjamin who ran from the battle with the Philistines, he was already in great fear about the Ark. On hearing of the capture of the Ark of God, Eli the priest fell backward and died.
17 He who brought the news answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great defeat among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18 As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years. (1 Samuel 4: 17-18)
The wife of Phinehas and their little baby son then had much grief to bear. In fact she lost the happiness of the birth of their child and named the baby with such a name which only reflected sorrow due to departure of the glory of God.
19 Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
What is the main lesson we can learn here?
Correct others before they cause your downfall especially if they are associated with you by way of authority, ministry, family, friendship, mentoring or any other way in which you might be directly accountable for their actions. Do what is right first instead of focusing on methodology. Remember that though you are to be nice and polite, you can’t let your goodness turn a blind eye to those who are being oppressed because you don’t want to take decisive action. I will give you some examples of how this works so that there’s nothing too ambiguous in this regard.
- Suppose you are a manager at work and your deputy misuses his powers and demands bribes from his colleagues to not be a roadblock to their careers and you decided to not stop him despite being aware of this. By stop him, I mean not a mere rebuke but actually stopping him from taking bribes or just removing him. So because you don’t stop him, the matter goes out to the police who then arrest you along with your subordinate as they find it hard to believe that you didn’t try to stop him. This makes the police assume you too were the partner in crime.
- Another example, you are a leader to a team of preachers. One of your preachers is preaching heresy instead of the true Gospel but he gets in a lot of offerings every time he preaches. You feel it’s not good to tell him anything as it may ‘offend’ him. Besides you assume that next time you shall preach another sermon which counters his heresy to the congregation maybe a month later and you secretly hope that the people didn’t actually believe his falsehood. Then goes a complaint to the main overseeing authority in your country and all hell breaks loose. The corrupt preacher is sacked, named and shamed. His heresy is exposed. But so are you in trouble too. You asked to either resign from your church ministry office or face an inquiry which will surely defame you so badly that you won’t stand a chance to fight back.
- A woman loves her daughter a lot and takes it to the extreme by deciding to let her daughter do anything and everything with no questions asked. While her daughter is into immoral relations with a married man, her mother does nothing to stop her. Things go out in public and the married man’s wife now decides to file a lawsuit against her husband. She ends up dragging the girl’s mom into court as well and ends up ruining their reputations too.
What else can we understand in this regard?
- Rebuking and restraining don’t always mean the same thing.
- In regards to ministry there’s no compromise allowed about the things of God.
- Do not permit sexual immorality anywhere that you can stop it legally.
- Prophetic warnings are not to be taken lightly.
- Children can receive prophecy but their claims too need to be examined.
- You are responsible for those under your authority.
- Family members don’t just need right example from you, they too need to act right.
- Do not be presumptuous of yourself nor others.
- Never let your emotions make the facts look muddied.
- When good works and bad works mix, the bad works stand out unless there’s repentance.
- God won’t give you a prophecy without an explanation or justification.
- Never think any object is greater than the word of God to give you victory.
Being truly spiritually sensitive to the needs and situations of others
All praise and glory to the Lord God who sent his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to save us from sin, hell and death. Thanks be unto Him who loved us even when we were still sinners. We pray that the Holy Spirit guides us and leads us into all truth. Grant that we in the example of Christ our Lord, be truly sensitive to the needs and situations of others. All this for the glory of God. Amen.
In the Holy Scriptures we come to know of instances when the servants and prophets of God gave spiritual hope to others in trouble. This is shown in both the Old and New Testaments. A person who believes in the Lord God must be ready to be attentive to those in suffering and pain or in trouble. We are to this without compromising on our belief in the teachings of the Bible nor falling prey to tricksters.
The example of Eli the priest of God at Shiloh
Hannah was barren and so didn’t have any children. She faced a lot of ridicule and humiliation from others. So when she prayed to the Lord God at the place of worship at Shiloh she was deep anguish and desperation. Eli initially thought she was drunk but on questioning her found that her pain was strong. So he said to her “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him” and then we read in 1 Samuel Chapter 1 that ‘And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord” ‘. There would be no prophet Samuel born unless Eli blessed Hannah in the name of the Lord God.
This was not the only time that Eli did good. We read in 1 Samuel 3 as to how Eli helped the child Samuel hear the voice of the Lord God which then helped Samuel eventually realize his calling from the Lord God to be his prophet unto the people of Israel. Again, there was no way Samuel would know he is to be God’s prophet unless Eli helped him to be attentive to the Lord God.
The example of the prophet Elijah and Widow of Zarephath
17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” (1 Kings 17:17-24)
If the prophet Elijah would have refused to pray for the dead son, then the widow of Zarephath would live in despair. But in truth, he had compassion on them and God heard his voice and the child came back to life again.
The example of the Apostles Peter and John with the Beggar at the temple gate
1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:1-10)
Though they didn’t have silver nor gold, the Apostles Peter and John had something precious. They had faith in the name of Jesus Christ. And by this faith, did Peter make the crippled beggar walk normally. They too acted with trust in the Lord so that they can bless this beggar.
What about your example in life?
From all the above examples you see one thing in common, the prophets, priests and apostles were spiritually sensitive to the needs and situations of others. They didn’t dwell on the ‘I will only pray’ approach to help others in trouble. They gave counsel, preached deliverance, gave healing and raised the dead besides interceding for others. Do not get into the stupidity of ‘prayer only’ when you see someone who needs rescue from danger be it hunger, sickness, poverty.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. (James 2:14-23)
Do not say that you don’t have any opportunity nor the time to care for others. If anyone insists on saying he doesn’t have time and opportunities to be spiritually sensitive to the needs of others, then he might as well add that he doesn’t have the desire and will power for that as well.
When you read the newspapers, do you read about crimes or someone in suffering due to grave illness? If yes, then do you then pray about such things? Or do you switch to the sports and entertainment pages which are at time full of the vain acts of vain people taking bribes and changing their spouses every few months? Do you pray against acts of unjust violence across the world? Or do you enjoy watching movies that glorify murder and robbery?
Suppose if you know of a relative or friend in need of a job, do you too start searching suitable jobs for them? Or do you spend time gossiping about them? If your church announces a time of prayer and fasting for a preacher who’s gone missing after entering into a nation hostile to the Gospel, do you actually care to do what is told? Or do you want to go to some amusement park which coincides with the time of intercession?
Not everyone reading this can pray and heal others instantly or gradually. Not everyone can raise the dead. But then does anything in the Bible say that you are not to ask for such gifts from Christ our Lord? If not, then do ask and ask in faith, hope and love till you receive. Don’t lose heart but pray. I’ve seen people getting healed after I pray for them and I give the whole credit to the Lord God for his mercy and power. I still am praying for the power to raise the dead. God only knows when I shall receive it but I will keep asking him in faith or expect some better gift for his glory alone.
In the Christian faith many people have certain gifts from God in the supernatural such as healing, deliverance and casting out demons. While some are yet to receive them. You might not have supernatural powers manifest as yet, but you do have the Word of God. Then if anyone needs scriptural counsel, are you willing to help out to whatever level you have learnt so far? Or are you suddenly after years of church going and Bible study, are going to say you don’t know the Bible? Even if that is your reality, I don’t judge you but encourage to get reading and studying the Bible with more sincerity that you ever had.
Resolve that you will be more spiritually sensitive to help others all for the glory of God. Pray that you won’t be discouraged by the ungrateful but will continue to fight the good fight against evil in the name of Jesus. Ask that the Holy Spirit leads you do all this in safety and without being deceived by anyone, and God will surely look at your faith and answer you in his time and way. Sincerity is the key in all this.
Christ be with you.