Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How Will We Do Under Pressure?

Matthew 26:47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Living by principle in a day when many around us operate by situational ethics is definitely upstream swimming. If we do what seems right at the moment, but are not anchored by a firm set of biblical principles, our passions will cause us to misbehave.

Such was the case with the disciples.
Judas, when the pressure was on, sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver.
Peter, when it all began to unravel, took to violence by cutting off Malchus' ear with a sword. Later on, in the same evening, he cursed, denying that he even knew the Lord.
The rest of the disciples fled into the night.
With the exception of John and Peter, they all went into hiding for the next three days.

For 3 and 1/2 years these twelve had companied with the Saviour. They were taught the greatest life principles personally by the Master. However, when push came to shove, they reacted out of the urgency of emotion, not by the principles which they had failed to apply personally.

Perhaps we can relate. If a believer is faithful to Sunday school, church and prayer meeting, they are going to hear a couple of hundred lessons and sermons per year. If they continue year in and year out for a couple of decades, they will have heard 4000 messages, each one containing a few biblical life principles. That totals literally thousands of reminders of how we are to comport ourselves in the good times and bad, including times of duress.

So, what gives? Why would veteran believers default to carnal weaponry when the squeeze is on and when they should know better?

First, Christians would do well to operate in the power of the Spirit, not in flesh power. Paul tells us what the fruits of each operation are produced. The flesh produces carnal fruit. The Spirit causes us to have love, joy, peace, goodness, patience, etc.

Second, we must allow biblical teaching to penetrate our very being. Scriptural teaching is not mere ideology. It is soul food. How we assimilate Bible messages might be akin to taking bites of nutritious food, chewing on it, then spitting it back out. Little good is accomplished. It is only as we swallow and internalize the food will it provide needed nutrition. While reading the Word of God or during a message, at its close and throughout the week, we need to continue to meditate on lessons learned, apply them to our lives and make them part of our core. Little good is accomplished if we read the Word and fail to do it. James said it is like a man looking in the mirror, then walking away and forgetting what he looked like.

Third, put into regular practice what we have learned. We are creatures of habit. Our bodies, souls and spirits need to be trained in spiritual actions and reactions. Live what is learned day in and day out. Only by doing will spiritual principles become part of our being.

Now here's the test. As you go about your day today, you will be confronted with occasions where you will have to make snap decisions and judgments. You may be tempted to draw your sword when you should show love. You may feel like cursing when you should be praying. Put into practice the many things you have learned. Slay your fleshly reactions and most of all, ask for the Holy Spirit to fill you and produce His fruit in you.

God bless you as you serve Him today.

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