JOSHUA, one of the greatest military strategists of the world in his time, was a man who acknowledged the supremacy of God in his life. Towards the end of his life, he called all the Israelites and gave them a farewell address. In Joshua 23, four times he reminded his people that it was the Lord who fought their battles. He also listed one of the first things that will make us trip in our walk with the Lord as:
1. Association with unbelievers
“For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you” (Joshua 23:12,13 ESV). God’s Word is unchanging. Even today, this is a warning to believers all over the world. The warning to God’s children is not to associate themselves with those that belong to the world. The people who we think will enlarge our circle of influence will end up being a doom to us. The Bible is clear that light has no association with darkness or believers with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).
2. All that we do outside His will
If association with unbelievers can endanger our walk with the Lord, then we must also know what the work of our hands wrought outside of God’s will and strength will do for us. In Isaiah 17: 10-11, we see the work of a diligent man who labored in his vineyard day and night coming to zilch. The day of harvest not only brings him zero yield, but also causes him grief and incurable pain. What was his crime? Though he was a skilled worker who knew the needs of his plantation, he forgot to keep himself at the center of God’s will. In John 15:15, Jesus said compared Himself to the vine and His disciples to the branches. To bear fruit, the branches have to be with the plant. We must always remember we can do nothing apart from Him. All the work that we do outside of His will, not only will be unfruitful but also bring us despair and shame.
3. An ungrateful heart
Many times, once we experience salvation we go on an auto-pilot mode. That’s a dangerous trip. As believers we need to take time off to thank God for our salvation. If we can make it part of our every day prayer, great! Only a grateful heart will take time to examine oneself and find one’s deep-rooted prejudices and flaws. The great scientist of this century Albert Einstein once said: ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’ Ephesians 5:20 asks us to give thanks to God for everything and always in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. When Israelites wavered in their faith, God spoke to them through prophet Jeremiah and asked them to name the fault they found in Him (Jeremiah 2:5-6). A grateful heart would have helped them realize and worship the One that brought them out of Egypt and led them through wilderness, deserts, drought and darkness. Their ungrateful heart made them follow worthless idols and they became worthless themselves.
4. 5. & 6. Life’s worries, riches and pleasures
God knows worries can choke the Word out of man. That’s why when Jesus Christ was explaining the parable of the sower in Luke 8, He took time to explain the condition of a man’s heart. The seeds that fell among thorns grew like the seeds that fell on good soil. However, the thorns outgrew the seeds and choked the plants. Life will offer many troubles to those who are ready to fret at the drop of a hat. Devotion to wealth, worries about worldly things and a life enslaved to the pleasures of the world will choke out the message of the kingdom. People who are gripped by these three things do not have time to read the Bible, walk with the Lord or consider the spread of the Gospel. Worry is today’s mouse eating tomorrow’s cheese. Neither will the mouse be fed nor will the cheese be diminished. Worry serves no purpose. That’s why Philippians 4:6 offers an excellent way to deal with life’s worries. Prayer and supplication with thanksgiving can do it for us. Proverbs 30:8 has a great prayer that is borne out of total dependence on God. ‘Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God’, it says. Riches will make us pamper ourselves and starve our souls. Pleasures make us forget our Maker.
7. Friendship with the world
One of the greatest impediments to a Spirit-filled life is friendship with the world (James 4:4). What the phrase ‘friendship with the world’ means is desiring the company of worldly men and seeking their approval and recognition. No man, however resolute in his desire to please God and serve Him, can continue in his quest if he desires to be a friend of the world. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 that no man can serve two masters. We cannot serve the Living God of Israel and the Baals of the world (I Kings 18:21). Friendship with the world can only make us become the enemy of God. What a great horror that is! If we have dedicated ourselves to be the servant of Jesus Christ, then we will not seek the approval of the world or be men-pleasers (Galatians 1:10).
From the archives: All columns by the editor |
Robin Sam is the founding editor of The Christian Messenger newspaper. A journalist with 16 years of experience, he has worked with The Indian Express, Sify.com and Yahoo! besides several other publications. He quit his job in 2008 to get into full-time media ministry. You can contact him at editor [at] christianmessenger [dot] in or christianmessenger [dot] in [at] gmail [dot] com