Our reading for Thursday, May 16, 2019 is Matthew 10:26–31.
26 “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. — NIV
At my age I am pleased to still have hair even though it is now gray. I have had friends less endowed with hair than myself joke that it is easier for God to count the hairs on their head due to how sparse it is. The point Jesus was making was it would be a tedious task to count the hair on our heads, and while we would even try God knows. Hopefully we understand that whether we have hair or not God knows us fully and all that happens to us.
Beyond this complete knowledge God has of us does the understanding that nothing happens to us without God knowing about it and more bothersome the idea that nothing happens to us apart from God’s will. The thought that God actually wills some of the things I have one through doe not leave a good taste in my mouth. I am sure the thought raises the same concern for you. But when you think about it our very earthly existence separated from God and subjected to all the blessings and curses we experience is the will of God as the response for our sin.
The purpose of God in our so called depravity is to lead us to confession, repentance, acceptance of grace and to introduce us to the pursuit of holy living.
The challenges of life are the place to cultivate character and draw us closer to God where we discover the resources for more abundant living in the midst of our predicaments. We are also called to service to God’s purposes and ultimate plan for humanity and this world.
The greater challenge is to remain faithful to God when things get tough and to trust God for the uncertainties we face in life. Greater still is to remain steadfast to our values when they are openly challenged. How often are we fearful to openly own our Christian values. We are timid and rightfully so because to stand up and speak out no matter how tactfully or gently will result in certain degrees of rejection and possible outright persecution.
Jesus teaches that we must come to a decision and prioritize our relationships. We will either live to gain the acceptance of other or satisfy ourselves with the acceptance of God. It is not that all will reject us for a bold faith but if our personality demands earning the approval of others at the expense of doing what is right then we must relegate ourselves to living with a damaged conscience. We will as Jesus says, “gain the whole world while losing our souls.”
Why would compromise cause us to lose our souls or better stated why can’t we have it both ways? The only way to accept the compromise of faith and be happy is to kill our conscience which will happen progressively over time with each compromise. True faith enlivens our conscience and causes us to live toward God and God’s values.
Jesus’ words sound ominous, “Don’t be afraid of those who can kill the body but not the soul. Rather, fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Judgment and hell are not popular topics, but our feeling about them does not alter their reality. Some things we need to fear. Appropriate fear will keep us on the right path and lead us to an eternal and fulfilling destiny.
Remember in your striving for spiritual integrity that God will always accept you and help you to be the best you, you can be.