Sunday – September 13, 2020
Word On Worship – Sunday – September 13, 2020
When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”
All Christians want to know God’s will for their lives. We want to know His will concerning major decisions, such as the career that we should pursue, the person that we should marry, and the place where we should live. We need His guidance on dozens of other daily decisions affecting our money, our time, and our relationships. If you know Christ as Savior and Lord, you want to please Him in every aspect of life by making wise decisions in line with His will.
There are many texts in the Bible which warn us about the company we keep. We are to avoid association with evil men, who seek to turn us from the path of righteousness (Proverbs 1:8-19). There are numerous examples of bad counsel coming from bad people. But our text reminds us that bad counsel can come from our most intimate and trusted friends, those who greatly love us and care about our well-being. We see examples of this in the Bible. For example, Nathan’s initial response was to encourage David to build the temple he aspired to construct (1 Chronicles 17:1-4). Job’s friends’ counsel was intended to end his suffering and to restore him to blessing, but they were all wrong (Job 42:7-9).
Why is it that those who love us deeply, who want our best are sometimes the very ones who give us bad counsel? It may be the same reason that we pray the surgery of a good friend will go “smoothly” and without complications. It may be the same reason that we ask God to completely heal a fellow believer of cancer, rather than use them powerfully in death. I feel this tension when I pray for missionaries who are serving God in very dangerous places. Should I pray that God would enable them to be evacuated from their place of service? Or should I pray that God would supernaturally deliver them from all harm? Or must I also leave room for God to glorify Himself and promote the gospel by their faithfulness even unto death?
I believe it all boils down to one’s attitude toward suffering in the Christian life. Paul understood that his best friends did not want him to suffer. It was prophesied that in Jerusalem he would suffer. If Paul’s goal is to avoid suffering, Paul will avoid going to Jerusalem. If your desire for one you love is to escape suffering, then you will counsel accordingly. Many times, I have seen this same counsel repeated today by well-meaning Christian friends. Some “Christian friend” will give counsel such as, “I wouldn’t put up with that; you’re entitled to be happy.” It assumes that the primary goal in life is to be happy and to be free from pain. God’s Word makes it plain that we live in a fallen world, one in which all creation suffers and groans (Romans 8:18-25). Such counsel assumes that God is not in control of our circumstances, or that He never sends suffering our way.