In J. R. R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit, the wizard Gandalf explains why he has selected a small hobbit like Bilbo to accompany the dwarves to fight the enemy. He says, “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
That’s what Jesus teaches us as well. Warning us that we would live in dark times, He reminded us that because of Him we are “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14) and that our good deeds would be the power against the darkness for the glory of God (v.16). And Peter, writing to believers in Christ who were facing severe persecution, told them to live so that those accusing them would “by [their] good works which they observe, glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).
There is one force that the darkness cannot conquer—the force of loving acts of kindness done in Jesus’ name. It is God’s people who turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and forgive and even love their enemies who oppose them who have the power to turn the tide against evil. So look for the privileged opportunity to perform acts of kindness today to bring the light of Christ to others.
evil. May I be so grateful to You for the loving acts
of kindness that You have shown me that I gladly
look to share good deeds with others as well!
Give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. —1 Kings 3:9
If God offered you anything you wanted, what would you ask for?
When Solomon was given that choice, he asked for the wisdom to discern good from evil so that he might lead God’s people well (1 Kings 3:9). “Because you have asked this thing,” God told Solomon, “I have done according to your words.” He even promised to give him “both riches and honor” (1 Kings 3:11-13). To this day, Solomon is remembered for the great wisdom God gave him.
Solomon began his rule with devotion to wisdom and a deep ambition to build a magnificent temple to honor God. But something happened along the way. His passion for living by God’s wisdom was displaced by the allures of the wealth and position God had given him. His marriage to foreign women who worshiped pagan gods eventually led him—and ultimately the nation—into idolatry.
The lesson is clear. Keeping our love for Christ and His wisdom preeminent is a primary objective for those of us who want to live to satisfy God throughout the course of our life. A commitment to following the riches of God’s wisdom will enable us to avoid the drift that destroyed Solomon.
Keep your heart in tune with God’s wisdom and obey His voice. That’s the way to finish well.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above. —Robinson
Monitor your heart daily to avoid wandering from God’s wisdom.
Faith Without Sight
From: Streams in the Desert
He went out, not knowing whither he went (Hebrews 11:8).
It is faith without sight. When we can see, it is not faith, but reasoning. In crossing the Atlantic we observed this very principle of faith. We saw no path upon the sea, nor sign of the shore. And yet day by day we were marking our path upon the chart as exactly as if there had followed us a great chalk line upon the sea. And when we came within twenty miles of land, we knew where we were as exactly as if we had seen it all three thousand miles ahead.
How had we measured and marked our course? Day by day our captain had taken his instruments and, looking up to the sky, had fixed his course by the sun. He was sailing by the heavenly, not the earthly lights.
So faith looks up and sails on, by God’s great Sun, not seeing one shore line or earthly lighthouse or path upon the way. Often its steps seem to lead into utter uncertainty, and even darkness and disaster; but He opens the way, and often makes such midnight hours the very gates of day.
Let us go forth this day, not knowing, but trusting.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth
“Too many of us want to see our way through before starting new enterprises. If we could and did, from whence would come the development of our Christian graces? Faith, hope and love cannot be plucked from trees, like ripe apples. After the words ‘In the beginning’ comes the word ‘God’! The first step turns the key into God’s power-house, and it is not only true that God helps those who help themselves, but He also helps those who cannot help themselves. You can depend upon Him every time.”
“Waiting on God brings us to our journey’s end quicker than our feet.”
The opportunity is often lost by deliberation.