Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hate evil, love good

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.” Amos 5:14-15 NIV1984
 
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The remnant of Joseph would have been the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. The sons born to him in Egypt that were adopted into the 12 tribes of Israel. The number of tribes does not change because one son is left out for sleeping with his fathers wife. Joseph was thought to be dead so one of his sons fills that place.  Of all the tribes 10 leave and eventually conquered and are scattered to the winds. The remaining two, Judah and Benjamin, that stay with the house of David are also conquered and scattered of them a remnant returns to rebuild Jerusalem. 

Remnants seem to be important to the Lord.  It is what is left of a community or people group after it has gone through a tragedy or great calamity. It comes from the idea that there is a bit of cloth at the end of the fabric bolt when the rest of the cloth has been used up. It is interesting to see over and over what God can do with a little bit that chooses to trust and follow him. Noah and his family are all that are left after the flood. With them God re-populates the earth. Gideon was hiding threshing his barley in secret and God uses him to deliver his people. David is the lowly brother out tending the sheep. The family all but forgets about him when the prophet Samuel comes to their house to look for a new king. All the brothers pass before him and he scratches his head and says there has to be another - about that time the family remembers David and has him brought in from the fields. Jesus stated with 12 followers and we can see how that small handfull only survived even in the face of great persecution. They almost all faced gruesome deaths but did not deny their faith in Christ.

We serve a God who rescues the remnant, and brings people up and out and through impossible situations. He takes what is left after a calamity turns that little rag tag bunch of people into something that shines for his glory.

Psalm 97:10 You that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserves the souls of his saints; he delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.

Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; hold to that which is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good...

We may think the part we have to play is insignificant. We may look around at our world and think it surely deserves the judgement of God.  We are called to be salt and light. Seek good and not evil. Hate evil and love good.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

 In the previous verses of Amos 5:12-13 it says  "For I know how many are your offenses
 and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes  and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.13 Therefore the prudent man keeps quiet in such times, for the times are evil."

I found this quote by Wayne Greeson "Too many Christians and too many churches do nothing. They are standing idly by, they are mere spectators. They sit on the sidelines instead of actively participating and working for the good. If good wins, they join in the celebration though they did nothing to produce the victory. If evil wins, they will complain long and loud though their own apathy helped produce the undesirable result."

 It is generally easier to stay quiet even though we are aware of injustice and evil happening around us. To speak up one risks their own family. The people in the half empty lifeboats from the Titanic heard the cries of those in the frozen waters but did nothing to help for fear that the great numbers needing help would capsize their boats in their desperation. We live in a culture that looks out for number one where one looks out for their own. We huddle away in our churches, and we may hate the evil all around us but few are willing to go out and make a difference. We may think that what ever we might be able to do is not enough to make a difference so why bother. The God we serves calls us to go in his name and do good.

John 14:12-14 (NIV1984)
12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

I don't see Jesus putting on gigantic worship services or building big churches or spending his time huddled away with his disciples. I don't see him building a big house to live in or pray in or setting up his carpentry business. I see him calling his disciples to leave their nets and follow him.  I do see him out among the people. I see him healing the sick, ministering to the poor, the oppressed, the hopeless. I see him feeding multitudes of people with a single sack lunch, and delivering people from demons. I see him speaking out against the religious muckety mucks of his day. I see him teaching and training and equipping his followers. I see him taking time alone to pray. I see him willingly laying down his life. I see him silent before his accusers, I see him saying "Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing". 

As we enter into a new year the challenge to seek good and not evil is before each of us. Look around the world you are part of. Where can you make a difference. Where can you allow the light of Christ to penetrate the darkness. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in helping to turn the tide of things in another's life. You may not think you have much to give or work with but look at what God does with remnants and consider that you might just be a remnant in his hands through whom he may accomplish great good. You may be the sack lunch that he some how breaks in to bits to feed the multitude. Perhaps like queen Esther who's life was on the line, you are called to speak up at such a time as this.

"Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; 
my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right. "
~ Abraham Lincoln

Prayer:
Lord help us to see what needs done and to have the courage to stand up and do it. Even if doing so bring us persecution or mocking or somehow rocks the boat. Help us to not sit idly by when there is good that we could do. Help us to not turn a blind eye or to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that nothing needs to change. Help us to know when to speak up and when to be silent. Help us know when we are to act and when we are to simply pray.  


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