NEEDED: The Discipline to Do the Unpleasant!
by William C. Sexton
Some years ago I heard a sermon by a young preacher who made some
pertinent points relative to a passage from I Kings 20:42, which says,“Then he said to
him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because you have let slip out of <your> hand
a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall
go for his life, and your people for his people.'"
The statement was made concerning the following situation: King Ahab had spared the life of a man, King Benhadad of Samaria, who had defied God's teachings to the extent that God's justice demanded his execution. Ahab, when asked by the king to spare his life and promise to return the cities he had seized, consented and made a covenant with him (I Kings 20:34). This was contrary to God's message by the prophet. God wanted Benhadad executed, not spared.
It reminds us of the downfall of another king, Saul, who refused to execute the Lord's commandment in a similar case (I Samuel 15:1-13). This was some years before, and Ahab should have been knowledgeable of it and the sad results.
Relevant Points for Us
The main point of the sermon was that we, too, have some unpleasant matters to attend to, and we may choose foolishly and destructively the more pleasant path for the present. Some examples might be in regard to the following:
1. God has laid down rules about marriage and divorce (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:9; I Corinthians 7:10-11). Many people feel that it's too harsh to ask a couple who are living in an adulterous relationship, possibly having children, to separate. However, if they were doing some other evil, they'd see no inconsistency or harshness in saying that they'd have to stop doing what they were doing in order to have God's grace forgive them! Out of sympathy, we may be duped into trying to remain on the sidelines and be uncommitted, which is acceptable to the Lord.
Do we have the discipline and conviction to sustain us in such an endeavor? Let us pray for strength to act disapprovingly if and when we are faced with such! Granted, such is not easy, and it tears the heart strings of the child of God.
2. Some people may be very likable and religious, but have not really obeyed the gospel (II Thessalonians 1:7-10), as is revealed in the New Testament (Believe - John 8:24; Repent - Luke 13:3; Confess - Romans 10:9-10; Be baptized in order to have remission of sins (Acts 22:16) and to be united with Christ (Romans 6:3-4)). Some feel that we are harsh even self-righteous and judgmental to say that they are lost. However, being faithful to God, Christians have to perform unpleasant tasks, not because they are arrogant or unloving, but rather because they do love and respect God and people. God is the author of salvation and salvation is in Christ (II Timothy 2:10).
As Christians, loving the souls of people, we must have conviction and trust in God to the extent that we'll follow His directions. If we really love people as we should, we'll want them to be saved eternally. Knowing that salvation cannot be found in any other (Acts 4:12), we'll not allow our timidness or compassion stand in the way to the extent that we'll fail to act. Real love manifests itself in action (John 14:23-24).
To fail to act is equivalent to taking their soul as our own responsibility (Ezekiel 3:17-21). We'll be lost as well as they. Paul was free from the blood of all men only when he shunned not to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26-27). That same principle holds true for us!