Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Bad boys, Bad boys.... or Commitments in the hour of desperation (2)
By the grace of God, Jephthah has been restored to his people, and his first focus, according to our text is, “what’s in it for me?” We have talked a little about what is wrong with his mindset, but there is also something right about it. It turns out the Jephthah was a man of faith.
If we turn briefly to the New Testament, we see that the writer of Hebrews (probably Paul), calls him one of the pillars of faith from the Old Testament.
“And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” (Hebrews 11:32-34)
So, whatever we may think about the character of Jephthah so far, we find assurance in Hebrews 11 that he was a man who had faith in God and that his faith was put into action. Faith without action is a waste!
It is import5ant to remember that the Bible is ONE continuous and continuing story, not a lot of little stories with no apparent connection. As we can see in Judges 11:9, Jephthah expects that if he goes up against the Ammonites and gains victory, it will be the Lord’s doing.
Jephthah clearly demonstrates the mind-set and heart-set we should have before and certainly after accomplishing any undertaking.
James echoes this same sentiment and admonition in the New Testament. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-5
Along with (if not before) all of the other preparations we put into place to order our lives, prayer (and of course, actually listening to the still small voice) should be a priority.
First, we acknowledge that it is the Lord who guides our steps. Second, we must be certain that we are following the Lord’s direction, and following Him; and not trying to lead Him where we want to go. Third, after we have our victory and success in whatever way we may choose to define that, we must remember to give Him the glory and the credit.
So we are beginning to se a much more complex man who knows where his help comes from, but is also has his feet firmly grounded in earthly reality. This reminds me of another adage about people being so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good.
We must know where our help comes from, recognize it and be grateful for it; but as responsible stewards of a supply of gifts and talents, we are to spend them wisely, not squander them. This is the least that expected of us; that we use our gifts wisely and to the benefit of others, and not just ourselves.