16It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[a] 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
19One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ “[b] 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Recently I found myself questioning the motives of some of my fellow sisters and brothers. I could not understand why they professed to know God and love Him, yet they intentionally come into His house with ulterior motives and what I like to call “messiness”. I wondered how they could resolve within themselves this oxymoron – loving God yet hindering His work. As I continued my self-righteous indignation and my apparent disgust for their actions – the Lord quietly whispered, “But who are you?”
Quickly I began to realize what the scripture says is true : it is not dependent upon man’s desire or effort – we are all saved by God’s mercy! He, therefore, has mercy upon whom He desires and hardens the heart of whom He desires. He hardened Pharoah’s heart to ultimately get the glory and praise for the deliverance He was to show Israel. Who are we to question not only what He does but what He allows?
If my fellow sister or brother is choosing to behave in a particular way, even a way that is not pleasing unto the Lord, God is allowing that behavior for a reason – to do something in the life of that individual and to those who witness it. What then should be my response? To PUSH past that behavior, see that individual as a child of God and my fellow Christian and to learn from their behavior and my response.
PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens. If we believe that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much then we must utilize that principle continuously, non-stop, and without ceasing!
I’ve decided to stop standing in judgment for the actions of my sisters and brothers – after all, WHO AM I? Surely, I am a work in progress and I don’t always act and respond the way the Lord desires! I’ve decided rather to PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens!
I’m committed from now on to pray, specifically and by name – for those that are intentionally trying to tear down the work of the Lord – for those that don’t see the church as a vibrant extension of God’s mercy, but rather a place to force their will and their “opinions” upon others – regardless of how unbiblical they might be. And my goal is that while I observe these “behaviors” that I not approach them with disdain or pious judgment – but rather embrace them with the same love, patience, and longsuffering that Christ extends toward my unworthy, sinful self each and EVERY day!
It’s time to flip the script – we must respond to unsightly behavior with forgiveness and love and by PUSHing past our self-righteousness and seeing our brothers and sisters as God sees them – fearfully and wonderfully made. So the next time you stand in judgment of another’s actions – simple take the time to answer the question, Who are you? – Then repent and begin to PUSH! God is the one that decides who to use for noble purposes and who for common use! But ultimately HE WILL get the glory!
c/2008 Candie A. Price