Wednesday, February 5, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 47: Justifying the Means by the Ends

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 47, February 5, 2014
Readings: Psalm 47, Genesis 42, 2 Chronicles 20, Acts 13, Acts 14

Have you ever done something bad to achieve a good result? How did that work out for you? How did you feel, when you knew that it was wrong but told yourself that it was OK because good would come of it? Reminds me of a Relient K album title...2 Lefts Don't Make a Right but 3 do!

Sometimes I think it's all too easy to take this approach to Christianity. Concede on a point in hopes of making them see your side. The ever popular "missionary dating." Televangelists using their fame and power to capture people's attention and money...for themselves.

Paul and Barnabas had this opportunity too. What kind of things could they have done in this situation, justifying their means by the end?

And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lyconian, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past times, he allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. (Acts 19:11-18)

They had come to reach the people of Lyconia, to share the good news of Jesus with them. And they were well received indeed. The people thought them to be gods! What luck! They'd be guaranteed to have a captive audience, ready to listen, wanting to accept what they had to say. All they had to do was...

Act like gods themselves. Take on that mantle. Use it for power, prestige and legitimacy. But they didn't. They tore their clothes, rushing into the crowds and crying out that it was not so. They had a perfect opportunity to have the whole city bowing at their knees and they threw it away.

Why? Because the means don't justify the end! The power that they had to heal the sick, that amazed the Lyconians, was from God. The true God. They knew that God didn't need them to grandstand, to galavant about, acting like gods, to get His word out. In fact, God didn't need them at all. It was a blessing that He used them. And so they chose to humble themselves. To give all the glory to God. To point the people to the One with real power. The power behind everything they said and did.

Think about the good things that God has done and will do in your life. How has he rescued you? Provided for you? Loved you? He stands alone, and does not need us to be showboaters for His cause. He needs you and I to be open, honest and humble. Willing to be the lowliest so that He can work. Willing to rend our garments in anguish that someone might give us the glory instead of Jesus. How can you humble yourself when God uses you in amazing ways?

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