|Volume 22 Number 7 July 2020||
Christians have to be on guard constantly against sin. In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, Paul told of a time coming when men would be “…lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.” Something in this list I have not thought much about before is ingratitude or “ungrateful.” Most would not say that ingratitude is sinful, though perhaps they would pronounce it rude and bad manners. Paul said it’s more than that; to be an ungrateful person is to be on the same plane as the other things listed in the passage, things we would not hesitate to announce as sinful. As we go about our lives warring against the ways of sin, let us always be grateful for the blessings in our lives and not let ingratitude bring us down!
Mark T. Tonkery
Bad news. It seems like there is a lot of it these days. Our country is in a pandemic, there are people losing their jobs, some of our dear friends are fighting life-threatening diseases with little hope, and many of us are still grieving the deaths of dear friends and family members. Now, I am not sure that these are the worst of times in which we have ever lived, but nevertheless, we are still living in some difficult times.
Often, I am asked, “How can we cope?” Just how will we deal with all these problems? Well, what I like to do is go to the Bible and see how the servants of God dealt with their problems, their difficulties and their struggles. One example is in the Old Testament. The prophet Habakkuk prophesied in Judah just before Nebuchadnezzar first invaded Jerusalem in 605 B.C.; this was about the time when the prophet Daniel was taken into Babylonian captivity.
The Lord spoke to Habakkuk and commissioned him to carry the message that He was going to punish Judah by the hand of the Babylonians. The result of this was that the Jews were going to be taken out of their homeland and carried off to another land because of their refusal to obey God and repent of their sins.
Talk about bad news, Habakkuk was commissioned to tell the people of Judah they were going to lose their homes and land, and they would become slaves. This was such a difficult message for Habakkuk to preach that he spent most of the Book of Habakkuk questioning why God would do this and, of all things, use the evil Babylonians as His instrument of punishment.
With all the questions Habakkuk had, he did come to a point of surrender and relied on his faith in Almighty God. Notice how Habakkuk concluded his book.
I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:16-19)
Now, I don’t know with what you are struggling, but I wonder if we could have the faith of Habakkuk and look at our struggles and rejoice anyway. Despite the bad, the struggles and hardships, can we see the goodness of God and still rejoice?
Matthew Henry, a well-known Bible commentator who lived in the late 1700s, was robbed one day. He made the following entry in his diary: “Let me be thankful, first because I was never robbed before. Second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life. Third, because although they took my all, it was not much. And fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
[Editor’s Note: Though often obscured by the reality of the moment, there is always a sufficient reason for the child of God to rejoice and to be thankful. If only we and especially I could remember that principle when despair visits for any reason. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]