Neglecting the Truth to Our Neighbor – Part 2

“Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

“See, we did not know this.” This is a hard statement to understand one saying. Few in the world can say that they do not see the suffering and escape the sorrow that it causes. Few in the world cannot know of those who live in hopelessness along the sidelines of society. None in the world cannot witness the carnage that man inflicts upon fellow men. And even those who are spared of these trials, live in the comfort of castles, have an unsatisfying hunger in their spirits and find not their fill. We do know but fail to admit the responsibility we have to provide the needs of the needy. “If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:12)

Who can with clear conscience ignore the plight of the downtrodden in this world? Consider the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. The Priest and the Levi, leaders of the religious right who claim to have the love of God in their souls passed by on the far side of the road that they would not help the one who was beaten and robbed. Can we make their claims and yet not have compassion for our neighbor?

Perhaps we have become too familiar with the troubles in the world and have become desensitized to it. Yet, neglecting the truth of it does not make it go away. We might become overwhelmed and feel that we ourselves cannot make a change and many in their pride will not accept good counsel. They are always consumed by the effect and never look to the cause. Dr. Carson, when he was campaigning for President, was on the streets of Harlem one day in New York City. The people were asking him what he could do for them. What will he do to lift them out of poverty? Did he offer a new welfare benefit, did he offer a free education program, and did he offer higher wages to those who are unemployed? And they asked what he would do to alleviate the crime that is rampant on the streets? Did he offer more police, more prisons, and more gun control? No, these are the effects of the problem and Dr. Carson offered a solution to the cause of the problem, faith. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Faith seems to always be the last resort. I can understand that. We live in a material world and we desire and understand the things that we can see with our eyes. For many if it cannot be seen then it does not exist. Of course, we know this is not true. If we turn our back to the problems of this world, if we turn our backs to the woes of our neighbor, this does not mean that they do not exist. They are still there. Fifteen years ago on the eleventh of this month, September, the Trade Centers came down by terrorist acts. After that Church attendance across America exploded. People sought the favor of God and went into His house to worship Him. The military, who had been fully aware of the dangers that our enemies posed acted. People returned to their faith, we no longer ignored our threats to society. My question is if we have attended to these things prior to 9/11, then would have 9/11 happened?

The truth is we do know and the truth is negligence does not make the trials and tribulations go away. We once were a nation that was a nation under God and His grace was shed upon us. Solomon foresaw this negligence in Israel and wrote these words. “And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

How long can we pretend we do not know, who long can we pretend we do not see, and how long we foolishly hide in our pretended ignorance and not suffer the effect of the cause of our lack of faith? God has commanded His people and if we love Him we are to obey. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37, 39) Then our society will have a great revival and people will come together in the bond of love and compassion for each other instead of hate and contention. Then the rivers of living water will return to our land. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)

We see that we are as Christians are to love God and to love our neighbor as our self. Jesus died on the cross for the redemption of the world, He gave His life in an act of Love for everyone. Not just you and not just me, everyone. Everyone has that value that God loves them. Everyone is His concern. And we, as Christians, are His servants unto all people. We are to share the love He has given us with all who will receive it, with all that they may come to know it. God knows and weighs the heart of all men and more importantly to us our hearts. As Solomon tells us, “Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul?”

God sets before us either His blessing or if we reject Him and His ways a curse. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse.” (Deuteronomy 11:26) We have been given free will and we can choose to receive His blessing or His curse. No one else is accountable to that, it is our choice. We have by the grace of God been given His Word and we should therefore know His truths. We should know His commands. And as a proof of our love for God we should obey His commands as they are not for our punishment but for our good. “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” (Galatians 3:10)

The scribes and Pharisees miss-understood the intent of the law and believed that it was the law that would save them. But it is not the law that will save us but our faith in the full revelation of God, which is Jesus Christ. The Pharisees were self-righteous and self-centered and would not associate with those who had the greatest need. Jesus condemned then for their neglect. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Luke 11:42)

We each by the providence of God have been given spiritual gifts, we have been given one or more talents, and we have been given these blessings to use in His service for the Kingdom. Paul tells us not to be negligent with the blessings that we have received. It is our obligation, responsibility, and our calling least they be taken away. “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.” (1 Timothy 4:14)

Many live as though judgment and accountability are distant things for concern. But who knows when that twinkling of life leaves this world. Solomon closes with this statement. “And will He not render to man according to his work?” I do not think that it is always at the judgement seat of Christ that we suffer for our negligence in obedience to His word. As we read through the book of Judges we see that Israel fell seven times because of their disobedience to God’s Word. When they repented they were restored and then fell again for seven cycles. Where the Pharisees missed it is that God weighs the hearts of men. He knows the intentions and He knows the motives and in the end game that is what we will be compensated for. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, September 3, 2016

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