By Dennis Rainey
There always is this fallacious belief: “It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.” Alas, all the evil of the 20th century is possible everywhere on earth.
Tuesday is coming then the “count” and voting results. Many are fearful not only of the outcome, but also of the response of those who lose or win!!! I have a couple of thoughts I want to share with you to navigate the uncertainty of the future. But first a legendary tale …
According to legend the devil held a public auction to sell the tools he used on people. When prospective buyers assembled, there they found tools marked down to bargain basement prices: Pride, Deceit, Greed, Lust, Idolatry, Sensuality, Strife, Envy, Drunkenness, Compromise, and many more. But there was one oddly shaped tool that was distinctly labeled: “NOT FOR SALE.”
People inquired, “Why is this tool off limits?” The devil responded, “I can spare every other tool in this sale … but this one is the most useful in opening and gaining access to a person’s heart to plant anything there I may desire.”
The tool? DISCOURAGEMENT!
This tool can cultivate the soil of a heart and convince a man or a woman he or she is useless, that the pain of sacrificing for good isn’t worth it and that there is no way he or she can make a difference.
Discouragement melts our hearts, taking away our desire to do virtuous acts of nobility. It replaces courage with passivity, despair and silence. Even cowardice.
Discouragement censors those who would step up and risk speaking the truth.
Tuesday is coming and regardless how it turns out, our assignment is going to demand a courageous response from you and me. We dare not cave in to our discouragement.
Truth has stumbled in the streets
I’m reminded of a passage from the Book of Isaiah that I’ve been “chewing on” since 2015. A Prophet from the past captures many of the emotions many followers of Christ are feeling today. Note the conclusion … it comes with a dire warning.
Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us; we hope for light, and behold darkness, and for brightness but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We growl like bears; we moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.
For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us, for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the Lord
and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.
Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil
makes himself a prey.
If you have a moment, read that last paragraph again and ask yourself: Does this sound like the culture we are living in currently?
This trio of virtues mentioned at the end are at the core of many of the issues we debate in our culture today …
… True justice is turned back.
… True righteousness stands far off.
… Truth has stumbled, having face planted in the marketplace.
When so many people have a different idea of what justice, and righteousness, and truth look like … and when so many differ on the foundation and definition of those virtues … in our culture we see integrity, goodness, and righteousness are moved aside and evil is allowed to multiply with compound interest.
But then comes the warning in verse 15: Truth is scarce. Lacking. Absent and impotent. And whoever turns his back on the evil makes himself and his children and grandchildren, a prey for evil.
In other words, if you and I and our families don’t prey on evil, then the very evil we were designed by God to conquer … preys on us, our spouses, children and grandchildren.
We’re losing the next generation
Barbara and I have talked with folks from one coast to the other and they are all saying the same thing: We fear that evil is poisoning the smallest and most influential unit of civilization, the family, and as a result we are losing the next generation.
Where do we start? How do we live for Christ in a culture that doesn’t embrace Him or the Scriptures?
I believe we must begin by repenting of sin, and with a courageous returning to the truth of Scripture. The Bible contains the truth about God and the truth of God. Both are absolute non-negotiables for human thriving.
The truth about God answers the questions: Who is this God? What is He up to on planet earth? In my life? Can He be trusted?
So what is the truth about God? Here are just a few truths about Him:
· He is righteous and just in all his judgments. (Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 11:7)
· He is full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 and John 14:6)
· He is Love. (1 John 4:7-10)
· He is our Redeemer. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
· He is the Sovereign Ruler over all of creation. (Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 32:17).
· He is present everywhere with you. (Psalm 139:7-10)
The Scriptures also contain the truth of God and explain how He designed life and gives us the blueprints to live by.
· His words are like a light on a path, they show us the way. (Psalm 119:105)
· His words instruct, correct, train and equip us to live life God’s way. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
· His words bring forgiveness of sins, redemption from hell, and eternal life to all who believe. (John 5:25)
· His words promise us He is coming back. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
The question is: When the heat of temptation to compromise is turned on, do you stand up for the truth and speak out, or do you wilt?
I’m afraid too many of us who say we follow Christ suffer from what I call “near beliefs.” We do not know what we really believe the Scriptures teach. Like a cork in the ocean, driven and tossed by the wind, we bounce from opinion to opinion.
We’ve become activity junkies, too busy to grapple with what the Bible teaches about thorny issues … never hammering out our core convictions around what the Scriptures teach about things like:
· Marriage: Did God create marriage to be between a man and a woman? Genesis 2:18-25 clearly spells out God’s intention.
· Gender: Did God create two distinct sexes, male and female, or did he abdicate this to humankind as their choice? Genesis 1:26-27 should answer that one.
And these are just two of the biblical issues we face in our culture today. How about racial injustice? Sexual license? The value of unborn life? There are many cultural issues where followers of Christ feel pressure to compromise and be silent about the truth of Scripture.
A far greater risk than courage
In the early 1970s, the Iraqi government arrested a group of American students on trumped-up espionage charges. The wicked regime of Saddam Hussein wanted confessions, so the captors tortured the students to elicit the desired admissions of guilt.
The prisoners were told that if they confessed, they could go free: “Compromise the truth.” “Admit to a falsehood.”
The promise of freedom became irresistible. One by one, as the pressures and pain mounted, the prisoners confessed to crimes they hadn’t committed. Every prisoner except one.
The torture intensified for this man. The loneliness of isolation became unbearable. He came close to breaking.
Recounting his friend’s story in The Wall Street Journal, Mark Helprin wrote:
Then they announced that they were finished with his case, that he could simply confess or die. A confession lay before him as they raised a pistol to his head, cocked the hammer, and started a count down. He had heard executions from his cell. “Sign your name,” he was told, “and you will live.” But he refused. He closed his eyes, grimaced, and prepared to die.
They pulled the trigger.
When he heard the click he thought he was dead. The gun, however, had not been loaded.
Helprin’s friend was eventually released. He discovered afterwards that every other prisoner who had confessed was later hanged in the public square.
Only he survived.
The moral of the story is clear: Compromise represents a far greater risk than courage. As difficult as it is to stand for truth, it is much harder to live standing in the middle of the road or with the consequences of moral failure.
My friend, when every voice around you screams “COMPROMISE!” … “SURRENDER!” … “TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT!” … stand for truth. Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People need to know the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Embrace peace and express love for your fellow man.
God will reward your faithfulness.
Your children will thank you.
America will be strengthened.
The virtuous must not hesitate. Let us arise and build.
Story about the American students taken from “To the New Congressional Majority,” by Mark Helprin, Wall Street Journal, January 3, 1995.
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