Saturday, March 1, 2014

What Are Your Actions Saying About Jesus?

We talk big. We really do. We have a lot to say about our God and about our relationship with him. It is all good stuff and it should be very encouraging to people. The only problem is that we are often hypocritical in our actions. We say that we love Jesus but then we don't always do what he says. We say we trust Jesus but we seem to have a break down as soon as we face any difficulty. We say that we walk with him but don't spend any time in the Word or in prayer. We say that we want what he wants, we want to live his will, but then we never take time to understand that will and just do what we think is best. People stop listening because of our inconsistency.

We need to jealously guard the testimony Jesus has given us and we need to be consistent in our witness. We should never be afraid of weakness in the face of adversity because he loves to glorify himself through our weaknesses. The Word tells us that he searches the earth looking for those who are loyal to him so he can reveal himself through their weakness. This is not unlike the famous passage where the apostle Paul is shown this truth and declares he wants to be weak always so that Jesus can be revealed in him.

Consider Ezra for a moment. He came from a long line of priests and was a scribe of the law of Moses. Ezra was also in captivity. But this was the time of the great release, when it was put in the hearts of the foreign kings to release the children of Yahweh and to support the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. I imagine Ezra had spent a long time explaining Yahweh and Israel to the king and even bragged about the power of Yahweh.

The king commissioned Ezra to return to Jerusalem and make offerings on his behalf. He loaded him down with officials and lots of money so it is obvious that Ezra's words must have had an impact. But then those words were put to the test. The empire was huge and hard to police so travel was dangerous. It was only natural that with all that money Ezra should request an armed escort. But Ezra was sensitive to the words, the testimony he had spoken to the king:

For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer. (Ezra 8:22-23)

It may seem like a little thing to you but it speaks volumes to me that Ezra was jealous for the reputation of Yahweh. He had told the king that Yahweh's favour rested upon all those who served him. Imagine how that testimony would have been diminished if Ezra had asked for protection. So he did what we all should do, he fasted and prayed until the Lord's will and direction were made clear to him. They were protected by Yahweh and the testimony stood.

Sometimes we are guilty of bragging about things that we are not prepared to live. It is easy to talk of trust until we are put in a desperation situation where we have to exercise that trust. It is easy to talk to others about faith until we are in a situation where we have to lean only on the promises of Jesus. The worse times are when we have a choice to either trust Jesus or to ask the world for help. Too many of us turn to the world and allow our testimony to fall. We should not speak of anything that we are not willing to put into action because we will be held accountable for our words.

I think it would be a good thing if we decided to be more transparent and honest with ourselves and those in our sphere of testimony. Sometimes we have to grow into trust and faith but we need to be aware of it so we can speak our testimony in such a way. We are just beginners in this relationship so we should not claim to be something we are not. We are learning to trust, learning to obey, learning to walk by faith. Our desire should always be to have our walk match our talk. When our words are put to the test, as they were for Ezra, we shouldn't shrink back but instead throw ourselves into the arms of Jesus, seeking his strength and direction. It is good to brag about the Lord but it is even better to allow him to glorify himself in your weakness so the whole world can see him in us. That is our purpose.

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