We are in a spiritual battle here in America. God is the General in this battle, His Holy Spirit is an unbeatable troop of soldiers, His Holy Word is the artillery. You and I are simply the jeeps. We have the easy part but we still must do our part.
What happens to a society when they wander from right relationship with God into a belief system that seems right in their own eye? In today’s reading we see a society that is a very dark and dangerous place. No one can trust his neighbor in this society. A society in which everyone does what is right in his own eyes is a dangerous and scary place.
Samson claimed God’s favor through his vow. He believed that it was the vow that gave him power. In other words, he believed that he controlled this power; that God was bound to give him this strength as long as he didn’t cut his hair. Samson was wrong. God gave strength to Samson for God’s purpose. Samson misused it. Samson’s heart was in the wrong place; focused on himself and using God’s gift to his own purpose.
God is not some great vending machine in the sky; just put the right amount in and you get what you pay for. Nor is He the great loan-shark in the sky; “give me what I want today and I’ll pay you back with absurd interest latter.” Our attempts to bargain with God are simply attempts to control God. “I’ll come to you God on my terms.” This means we view God as a tool to be used by us. That has the relationship upside down. We are to be tools used by Him. To the secular mind this must sound outrageous. To the mind of one submitted to Christ this sounds reassuring.
Here, brothers, is yet another example of how we can walk with God one moment and then wander off the next. God can work through us and bless us, and then we start to think we are worthy of blessings. We start to think that we are responsible for our little successes. Our focus devolves back down to self-centeredness and away from God. Self-focus, self-centeredness, is the heart of all sin, and Gideon fell into this trap.
Our response to a hateful secular world has been to hide our faith away, afraid the oppressors might come and take what little freedom we have to worship. My friends, our souls cry out for the Lord to rescue us from these oppressors, and he has heard us. He comes to us in the form of His holy Word today to say, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” Judges 6:12.
“Who are you to judge?” is often the indignant reply to a firm statement of right and wrong. Well, I am a sinner saved by grace, and my sin is no less egregious to God than any other person’s sin. As a fellow law breaker, I have no more right to “judge” others and their sin than a prisoner has the right to judge another prisoner.
The problem here is the misuse of the term “judge” when speaking about right and wrong. God provided, through His Word, a detailed list of right and wrong actions. To say “God says that stealing is wrong” is not judging another person who has stolen but rather quoting the law.
Obedience really comes down to a choice. Who are you going to serve; God or yourself? Yes, I know, the scripture says choose between serving God or other gods but “other gods” are man-made. Mankind has done this since the fall. Since we know we are not really powerful enough to have created the universe, yet we still want to control the universe to our own self-centered ends, we create gods that will do our bidding. We don’t want to be under the authority of the One True God. We want to create our own gods that will behave as we desire and do our bidding.
There are some “man-made” controversies that the body of Christ can peaceably debate and over which we can agree to disagree. The examples I have listed here are not among those debatable controversies. To pick and choose scripture, to say sin is not sin, is to stay on the east side of Jordan. It is to say “I will come this far with you God but no farther.” To do so is to choose what looks good to your human understanding, only to experience the consequences of that reckless choice.
Too often our vision for stewardship is too small. Are you taking care of the body God gave you to care for? Have you taken care of that wife or child God put in your care as He would have you do? Have you managed the resources of your talent, skills, experience, and income to His benefit or your own? Joseph benefited from being a faithful steward in that he was fed, clothed, and housed. In fact, as he was entrusted with greater responsibilities, the benefits of stewardship increased.