Leading Instead of WatchingMay 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
Tags: freedom in Christ Jesus, onlookers, personal testimony, Psalm 105, Psalm 106, Psalm 150, Robin Hood, sharing your testimony, standing on the promises, Vance Havner
Psalm 105 is remarkable in the way it extols the wondrous works God had done among and for His people without really making much mention of the failures of His people. As Christians it would be a mistake to completely ignore our past failures, but the focus of our praise should be on God, not on us.
You may have heard Christian testimonies which go to one of two extremes. On the one hand some Christians almost seem to be bragging when they talk about how “bad” or how “tough” or how “lecherous” they were before they were saved. They seem almost nostalgic as they go into too much detail about what prolific and skillful sinners they were. Sometimes this is defended by the testifier as necessary so that his or her lost listeners can better “identify” with the testimony, and so that they won’t feel like the person giving the testimony is trying to be “holier than thou” now that he is saved. The other extreme, of course, are the testimonies which overly minimize the pre-salvation sin of the Christian – possibly out of shame for past behavior and possibly out of a failure to recognize the true “sinfulness” of sin.
I have probably been as guilty as others of leaning toward one or another or these extremes myself at times. When I try to give a sober analysis of my state before Christ redeemed me, I am forced to admit that I was indeed a rebellious sinner, but there was nothing noble about my rebellion when I was lost. I was not like Robin Hood – robbing from the rich to give to the poor. I sinned because I liked to sin. When I was able to ignore my conscience, sin felt good to me, and I loved me more than God, and I wanted me to feel good, and I was able to rationalize it in my own eyes by saying it didn’t seem all that bad to me. The fact is, I was a degenerate – a filthy worm – but another fact is, that such a statement is probably not worth a lot of my breath. The Bible says that those of us who have breath should praise the Lord! We should talk more about how great He is than about how bad we were.
Psalm 106, though, is sort of an alternative view to Psalm 105. In order to extol God’s longsuffering and enduring mercies, the psalmist shows the magnitude of the people’s sins.
We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.
Psalm 106:6 (emphasis added)
We, as 21st Century American Christians, have to stop blaming our parents for our situation. Yes, they (their generation) sinned, but we are responsible when we repeat those sins.
The most serious kinds of heart surgery are not easy to perform. The skin has to be slit open; the rib cage cracked apart; the organs sorted through. But sometimes that’s the only way to fix the problem. Spiritual heart surgery can be daunting and messy as well. We should spend more time looking within us for the source of our own sin, than looking around us or at the past.
Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.
People who have been rescued and set free sometimes fear the responsibility of freedom. They want the old security of bondage. Bondage does not require faith. There were times when the Israelites wouldn’t follow God, but at least they would follow Moses. Are you a Moses or an Israelite? In other words, when it comes to walking by faith, are you a leader or a looker?
He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:
Are you leading by faith or are you just a spectator of God’s miracles? Vance Havner used to say that, in Christian ministry, we are not running a show boat; we are running a life boat. If you have been in church long enough, you have probably heard some preacher somewhere say the trouble is that too many folks are singing “Standing on the Promises,” while in reality they are just sitting on the premises!
We have developed into a generation of onlookers and spectators. You go into a department store, and when the clerk comes up and asks, “What do you want?” you say, “Just looking.” In the same way, all over our nation, there are television viewers sitting there in their living rooms “just looking.” There are children sitting in front of the internet “just looking.” People come to church, and someone asks them, “Did you come here to do business with God?” If many of these people were to tell the truth, they’d say, “No thank you, just looking!”