Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Devotional - A Wise Understanding

Good morning my friends. It is another hot and sticky day here in Montreal but they have promised the humidity will break over night. Then we will be back to complaining about the lousy summer we are having. I hope not though because we are to give thanks in everything. We are continuing with 2 Corinthians 6.

In case you have yet to discover it, there is a difference between the believer and non-believer. There is also a difference in the way we are suppose to act toward them. It is not a prejudiced thing and it is a difficult thing to describe. Its difficult because it can be misunderstood. We have a responsibility to love the lost, to sacrifice for them, to be kind and compassionate, to demonstrate forgiveness. But there is something deeper between believers:

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also. vs. 11-13

Opening our hearts wide to our fellow believers means becoming vulnerable to each other. Jesus' love in us compels us to enter these relationships of trust. It is what allows for the gifts to flow freely and what allows for unity in the Church. If we are guarded with each other then there is no trust and without trust there is no unity and the Spirit finds it hard to work. Opening our hearts is a risky business because it means we must be willing to be hurt. But just think of how Jesus was hurt after he opened his heart to his disciples and they abandoned him. Think of Paul's pain as we read the letter to the Ephesians knowing that this church had rejected him while he sat there in prison. But where there is love there is also forgiveness and we have to trust our Father on this finer point. Now contrast this with what Paul says about non-believers:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
"Therefore come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you."
"I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." vs. 14-18

This is a hard pill to swallow. Let's be clear, Paul is not saying to have nothing to do with non-believers. How could he? Jesus sent us into the world to be witnesses of his love. Paul spent his life doing this and is thought to have died doing this. Of course Paul is not telling us to have nothing to do with non-believers. It is simply that we should not try to have the same profoundness in our relationship with a non-believer as we have with a believer. There is one very special ingredient that is missing; the Holy Spirit.

Paul is saying don't be joined with a non-believer in anything. This might be affairs of the heart, business affairs or anything that will require a bonding together. It is an unequal yoking. The imagery comes from farming. A farmer would have to try to find two animals of equal strength to yoke together to pull the plow. If they were not of equal strength the weaker animal would limit the strength of the stronger animal and would become a burden to the stronger animal, exhausting him. In the same way when a believer and a non-believer are yoked together the non-believer limits the strength of the believer, dragging him back and perhaps spiritually exhausting him.

It is one of the hardest things for us to be able to understand and we all think we can be the one to succeed. But it is here in the Word for a reason. Maybe you think you can be yoked with a non-believer because you do not know the heights you are intended to soar. Perhaps you think you have arrived and this is all there is. Open your heart to God. Trust him. Understand he has plans to prosper you beyond your imagining. He has heights he intends for you to soar at that you have no clue even exists. Trust him on this matter. Be yoked with a believer in all things and watch what happens. Oh how we love the lost but they do not see as we see, they do not understand as we understand, they are blind and in need of a Saviour but they do not even know that. So, be careful, listen to the Word and make wise choices in this matter.

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