LET GOD TAKE THE LEAD
Today's Scripture: “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Matthew 7:6, ESV
Theme: Keep walking in love and grace. You do not have to convince everyone or defend yourself. Don’t get drawn into arguments.
When asked if I have an opinion, or if I can “answer this,” you may have heard me say: “I ALWAYS have an opinion; I’ve just learned I don’t always have to share it!” The same with having an answer. Yep. I got one. But unless you are specifically asking for my advice, it’s kind of fruitless to keep offering it!
In fact, a friend mentioned this week that she had learned the same thing. She has a few people in her life who complain continually, and she has tried to help. She finally realized that they want things to change but are not unwilling to make any of the changes necessary to bring them about. Her advice and encouragement are just wasted on them, like the “pearls before swine” in our verse today.
As a church, we have studied “disputable matters.” These are topics and arguments that are not crucial to the identity of God, Jesus, or His saving work. They are about holidays or music styles or how the end of time will play out. Even within the body of Christ, there are disagreements that will not be “settled” this side of eternity, and brothers and sisters who will never be convinced of our positions. If their arguments or theologies do not negate the basics of the faith, the powerful work of the Cross, the Gospel, or the divinity and humanity of Jesus, we are free to let those arguments go.
UNDEFENDED BUT BY GOD
Paul, in several instances, made a defense for his actions against the claims of the Jews (Acts 24:10, 26:2). While in Athens, he was so distressed by the city’s idol worship that he began to debate with anyone who would listen. “So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17, NIV). Paul was all about presenting a logical case for believing in Jesus.
However, the most powerful conflicts occur when we feel personally attacked. King David was attacked when his sons, friends, and close advisors betrayed him. Yet he let God be both his refuge and his defense. Of course, there was a time for battle, and he was known as a man of war, but in his interpersonal relationships, He left room for God to defend him.
Jesus did not answer back to the High Priest and did not defend Himself to Pilate. He simply answered Pilate’s questions, not trying to make His case and be set free. He continued to operate in grace and love, even while He hung on the cross. How we respond when we feel attacked depends on God’s direction, not on our own skillful arguments. Listen to the Spirit and leave room for God. Rather than defend ourselves, let’s let Him take the lead.
Make It Personal: Who or what are you always pushing against? In your family, where is it okay to let it drop or--better yet--let God bring about change? At work, does every decision have to go your way? Can you leave space for others to express their opinions and grow? In spiritual matters, are you the Pharisee, demanding complete conformity to the way you understand the Bible...or is there grace in disputable matters? As Election 2024 approaches and politics heat up, how can you “leave it” and step out of the debate, putting relationships above ideology? Where are you leaving room for God to change you, to defend you, to bring about restoration and peace?
Pray: Lord, I want to leave room for You to work: first, in my own heart, then in others. I need to lean back and leave space for the Spirit, before I offer advice or defend myself. Help me to hear and speak Your words and counsel. Keep me from useless debates and arguments. Most of all, I want to live and love like Jesus, with grace, mercy, and infinite patience. In His Name I pray. Amen.
Read: Isaiah 52:12, 58:8; Mark 13:9-11; Romans 12:9; 1 Peter 2:23
Weekly Memory Verse: “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25, ESV