Thursdays With Oswald—Getting The Order Right

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Getting The Order Right

     Beware of walking in the spiritual life according to your natural affinities. We all have natural affinities—some people we like and others we do not; some people we get on well with and others we do not. Never let those likes and dislikes be the rule of your Christian life. “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” [1 John 1:7], i.e., God gives us fellowship with people for whom we have no natural affinity. …  

     Our example is not a good man, not even a Christian man, but God Himself. We do not allow the big surprise of this to lay hold of us sufficiently. Jesus nowhere says, “Follow your Father which is in heaven—that you may be good men? that you may be lovable to all men?” No, “that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” [Matthew 5:44-45], and that implies a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ. …  

     It takes a long time to get the full force of our Lord’s statements. “I say unto you, love your enemies”—an easy thing to do when you have no enemies; an impossible thing when you have. “Bless them that curse you”—easy when no one is cursing you, but impossible when someone is. “Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.” It seems easy to do all this when we have no enemies, when no one is cursing or persecuting us; but if we have an enemy who slanders and annoys and systematically vexes us, and we read Jesus Christ’s statement “I say to you, Love your enemies”—how are we going to do it? Unless Jesus Christ can remake us within, His teaching is the biggest mockery human ears ever listened to. …

     “I say unto you, love your enemies.” Jesus does not say, “Love every one.” The Bible never speaks vaguely, it always speaks definitely. People speak about loving “mankind,” and loving “the heathen”; Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Our Lord does not say, “Bless your enemies,” He says, “Love your enemies.” He does not say, “Love them that curse you”; He says, “Bless them that curse you.” “Do good to them that hate you”—not bless them. He does not say, “Do good to them that despitefully use you”; He says, “Pray for them that despitefully use you.” Each one of these commands is stamped with sheer impossibility to the natural man. If we reverse the order Jesus has given it can be done with strain, but in His order I defy any man on earth to be able to do it unless he has been regenerated by God the Holy Ghost. When a man does love his enemies, he knows that God has done a tremendous work in him, and everyone else knows it too. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

It’s impossible to do what Jesus commands if we’re trying to do it solely in our own strength. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to remake us from within, we can do what Jesus says:

  • If someone is your enemy—love them.
  • If someone persecutes you—pray for them. 
  • If someone curses you—bless them.
  • If someone hates you—do good to them. 

When we operate this way, we know that God has made this possible in us—and everyone else knows it too!

How Should Christians Handle Unfriendly Earthlings?

Christians are citizens of Heaven who are merely passing through Earth, so this isn’t a Christian’s final home. Because of this, it’s not unusual for Earthlings to mistreat, insult, and even persecute these “aliens and strangers.”

How are Christians supposed to respond to this?

First off, let’s make sure the persecution is for the right reason. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:11).

Jesus also told us that this persecution has a blessing in it: we would be able to share our faith in Jesus Christ at the highest levels on Earth: “On account of Me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them” (Mark 13:9).

In 1 Peter 3:8, the apostle tells us how to live with everyone, Christian and Earthling alike:

  1. Harmoniously—keep The Main Thing the main thing; don’t get caught up in petty arguments
  2. Empathetically—put yourself in others’ shoes
  3. Kindly—treat everyone like a sibling that shares the same parents with you
  4. Compassionately—be strong enough to handle other people’s stuff
  5. Courteously—remember this: manners matter!

This list may be easy to live out when people are friendly to you, but what about when unfriendly Earthlings are downright mean to you? In the very next verse Peter gives us two Don’ts and one Do:

  1. Don’t repay evil with evil—Jesus is our example of this (see 1 Peter 2:21-23)
  2. Don’t insult the insulters—treat others as you want them to treat you (Luke 6:31)
  3. Do bless those who slander and persecute you—Jesus says we get absolutely no credit if we only treat kind people kindly (see Luke 6:32-33)

In Psalm 35 David is dealing with people who are fighting against him. They are saying mean things and trying to do even meaner things. This prayer shows both God’s part and our part…

God’s part—defend me against the evildoers … remind me of Your salvation … pursue those who are falsely pursuing me … stay close to me.

My part—listen to God’s voice of assurance … live quietly … don’t give others cause to mistreat me … pray for those who persecute me … continually turn my thoughts and praise to God.

Peter wraps up this thought with these words—Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even it you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (1 Peter 3:13-14).

Don’t give in to mistreatment and lash out in anger. Trust God to handle things. Keep on living a good life that is focused on bringing God all the glory due His name!

Your Nothing Is Really Something!

I love the story in 2 Kings about the widow who comes to Elisha for help. Elisha tells her to borrow as many empty jars as she can, and then begin to pour the little oil she has remaining in her own jar into all the empty jars.

Miraculously, her one little jar fills all of the empty jars she had borrowed! It was only after the empty jars had been filled that her jar of oil stopped pouring. When she sold the full jars of oil, she was able to pay off her debts and have enough left over to take care of her and her sons.

We always have something.

In our eyes our something may appear as nothing. The widow originally told Elisha, “I don’t have a thing. Except a tiny bit of oil.”

But if God has given you something, that something is everything you need.

Your something is everything to you, and it’s a blessing to others too.

What do you have to do with your something? Pour it out on those who have nothing.

For how long? Until all the places of nothing are full. Once all the nothing is filled with something, you can stop.

And then what? Then you will find that your something with God’s blessing is everything you need!

God has given you something that those with nothing need. So perhaps a good prayer for all of us is—God, show me today what something You have given to me, and where You want me to pour my something into someone’s nothing.

Cursing Or Shining?

There are two ways of dealing with any undesirable things around you: You can curse the darkness or light a candle. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say, “Tell bad people how bad they are.” Instead He tells His followers to love … bless … serve … SHINE …

You can curse…

  • There’s too much pollution.
  • Respect is no longer seen.
  • Politicians are crooked.
  • Newspapers only report bad news.
  • Too many marriages end in divorce.
  • My kid’s teacher is never available.
  • People hide behind Facebook and email.
  • My church is boring.
  • Halloween is dark and scary.

Or you can SHINE…

  • Pick up one piece of trash … recycle your metal and plastic …
  • Write a thank you note to your local police chief …
  • Run for office yourself … volunteer for a politician you believe in … be an informed voter …
  • Do something newsworthy … use Twitter & Facebook to highlight good news …
  • Date your mate … have dinner with another married couple …
  • Volunteer in a classroom … send an encouraging email to a teacher …
  • Take some cookies to your neighbor … send a handwritten note to a friend …
  • Start praising before you go to church … get involved in a ministry …
  • Light The Night …

Light your candle and shine brightly. Then watch and see as others light their candles from yours!

%d bloggers like this: