Genesis 44:18 (NLT) Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my Lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.
At times the difference between good or bad, success and failure, life and death depends on whether we step forward or not, whether we speak up or not. Judah was about to lose another brother; as a result, he may have also lost his father. He wasn’t going to let that happen without trying to do something. He risked incurring the anger of the 2nd most powerful man on earth that time; he did it anyway. He stepped forward; he spoke up; he explained; he pleaded, and it dramatically changed what could have been a devastating continuation or conclusion of their story. His effort benefited him, and a lot more people—perhaps, an entire race of people.
There are so many great opportunities people allow to slip right through their fingers just because of not taking the step of faith, not opening their mouths. There’s a lot of wisdom in constraint; there’s wisdom in silence; it’s not necessary to always step forward and talk. There are dead heroes who could have been living heroes had they taken more precaution. But there is time and place for doing something.
There are worthy causes and reasons risking our lives for. It will take people of courage and conviction—people who recognize the value of what they are fighting for. It will take people of discernment, wisdom, and humility; they know who to approach; they know the people to talk to; they know the people who can help, and they know the people who can make a difference in their situation. These are people who act in faith—they believe that they need to do something, that they can do something, and that something can happen.
God knows how to bestow favor upon them. His Word clearly declares: He is pleased with faith and those who act on their faith.
Hebrews 3:13 (KJV) 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
One glorious day, we will be meeting our long-awaited beloved Lord, beholding Him with our very eyes, to spend time with Him and with our God for eternity. That will be one day, and we pray, one day soon. Today, we prepare.
Part of our proper preparation is urgently exhorting and warning each other daily to be passionate about our God and His Word; to be watchful and vigilant against the insidious tactics and hideous attacks of our enemy.
God has powerfully set us free; we live in freedom. We don’t unwisely subject ourselves again to the cruel sin overlord. In freedom; we’re repeatedly commanded to be careful, to guard our hearts, to make sure our hearts don’t get hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, and cause us to turn away from God.
We aim to be faithful to our Lord, to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith, to trust Him as firmly as when we did at first—even more. We don’t make light of the admonition for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, to strive with the power of God’s Spirit that’s continually working in us to will and do what pleases Him. These we restfully do—in freedom, in His grace.
Hebrews 3:12 (KJV) 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
We as believers—those of us who are a part of God’s family—need to pay sincere and serious attention, and need to be very careful. Not doing so results to the terrible condition of having “an evil heart of unbelief”—hearts that become hardened through continuous conscious decisions and actions of disobedience and rebellion—which inevitably leads to departure from the living God.
This Scripture is a point of contention among believers despite the clarity of the statement. But instead of adding to an already excessive arguments and counter-arguments from both sides of interpretation, I choose to just do what the Scripture directs us to do—to heed the encouragement and warning.
We want to be careful and not careless. We have an internal enemy—the flesh, and we have external enemies—the world and the devil. They want to creep in and devour us completely. We’d rather live as more than conquerors than live as the conquered. We want to have good, believing hearts instead of evil, unbelieving, doubtful, confused, hardened, and calloused hearts. We want to abide in God instead of departing from Him. We strive to fight the good fight, to run our race well, and to keep the faith.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV) 13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
We are victorious over trials, temptations, and sin. We have God’s assurance from His Word: there’s no temptation that’s uniquely ours. Whatever test comes our way, we are confident that our good God and heavenly Father has already examined it, filtered it, and allowed it because it’s for our best. He’s strengthening us through it; He knows we can handle it. He makes sure that we have a way out.
Our precious Lord and Savior Jesus taught us to pray; He wants us to pray that God would lead us not into temptation—and God won’t. But temptations come; He allows them to come for purposes greater than we all can figure out. They attack from within us and from the outside of us. They come with power and allure that has dropped many of the saints. I’d like to repeat that: many of the saints… too many.
From times of old to now, God’s people have been struck down in staggering numbers. Millions of Israelites—millions died in the wilderness failing to enter the Promised Land—the land they looked forward to and longed for. Preachers, saints who have worldwide influences—powerful people of God through whom God moved and touched millions of people all around the world—failed to take God’s escape routes, gave in and indulged their sinful desires, and were destroyed in the process. We have more than enough examples to learn from. We are careful; even the strongest of us are aware of the fact that we can fail. We don’t have to learn through our own experience. When temptations come, we don’t fall; we rise higher.