The Grateful Samaritan
“One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, ‘Praise God!’ He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.” (Luke 17:15-16 NLT)
Ten lepers had been healed, yet only one returned to give glory to God. God makes it very clear to us that this person who had returned was a despised foreigner. We often miss God’s blessing because it comes through someone with whom we disagree.
I once was asked to work on a steering committee of a crusade held by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Grady Wilson, an associate evangelist, did the preaching.
I had been saved and nurtured In Christ in the charismatic renewal that occurred in the Church in the latter part of the last century. One of the central tenants of our faith was a belief in the baptism in the Holy Spirit. One of my friends who attended my church got wind of my involvement in this crusade. He said to me, “I would not be involved with them, they don’t even believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit.”
I was a young Christian at the time and it shook me. I started to have reservations about my involvement with the crusade. Even though I had doubts, what my friend said just did not sit well with me, and I continued to serve on the committee. The result, a rich learning experience. In relation to reaching the lost, it was honey straight out of the rock. The people on the Billy Graham team had forgotten more than I would ever know about evangelism. I learned that I need people who did not believe exactly as I did. A difference in theology almost made me miss this life-changing experience.
It’s amazing, God uses people who don’t believe just like we do. One of the themes of the Scripture above is that God uses people who don’t dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s theologically. Of course, our theology is important, but is it significant enough to divide us unless it involves the basics of our salvation or a clear departure from biblical truth? You probably heard about the pastor who was having a discussion with God about working with another church. He told the Lord, “I don’t know if I agree with everything they do.” God replied, “I don’t always agree with everything that you do, yet I still work with you.”
The Apostle Paul instructs us in Romans 12:4-5:
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”
When we separate ourselves from God’s family we are fracturing Christ’s Body and missing part of the character of God.
Saint Augustine once said,
“In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty, in all things charity,”
The grateful Samaritan reveals to us that loving God is evidenced by gratefulness in our hearts more than theological correctness in our minds.
What Does God Love?
by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave (Psalms 86:12).
There is a very famous passage in Proverbs detailing what God hates. Indeed, throughout the Bible God never shows reluctance to speak against behaviors he finds detestable. This should come as no surprise to us, being that he is holy and man has amassed a large amount of sinful tendencies since he first came into the world.
But what does God love? While avoiding the “bad” list – is there a “good” list toward which we can be working? Let’s dissect Proverbs 6:16 to discern the things which God loves.
God hates “haughty eyes.”
Therefore, God loves eyes which gaze with humility. Not a false or broken humility of despising oneself, but a genuine, Christ-like choice to serve others, not draw undue attention to oneself, and treat others with great honor and respect.
God hates “a lying tongue.”
Therefore, God loves a tongue which speaks truth. Note that this does not say a brash tongue, or a loud tongue, or a tongue which speaks its opinion at any and every possible moment. Rather, he loves a tongue which, when it does speak, values honesty and artlessness.
God hates “hands that shed innocent blood.”
Therefore, God loves hands which protect the innocent. Throughout Scripture, God’s compassion for the defenseless and the innocent is clear. He commends his children (in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Covenant) to protect the defenseless (Psalm 82:3-4), welcome the alien (Matthew 25:35), care for the widow (James 1:27), defend the orphan (Deut. 24:17), and mourn with those who are mourning (Romans 12:15). We are to be peaceful citizens, not bloodthirsty citizens, and our hands should therefore strive to protect innocence.
Therefore, God loves a heart which devises good and righteous plans. God loves our desires to serve, our desires to help, our desires to minister. When our hearts long to carry out God’s plans for goodness, righteousness, and peace, it delights him.
God hates “feet that run rapidly to evil.”
Therefore, God loves feet which run rapidly to goodness. Our feet carry enormous power. Where we choose to walk can truly define who we are as a person. Will we choose to walk away from a fruitless argument, or remain in an attempt to stubbornly prove a point? Will we choose to chase after those whom we have wronged, falling at their feet with love and humility? Will we let our feet wander to where the Spirit leads us, or will our feet guide us to our own selfish desires?
God hates “a false witness who utters lies.”
Therefore, God loves a trustworthy witness who speaks the truth. When we are beacons of integrity, truth, and honor, God rejoices. In any situation, a witness is charged to faithfully report what happened to the best of his ability. The greatest witness we can be is a faithful witness of God’s redeeming work in our lives. Will we stand boldly and speak the truth of God to the world? Are we living our lives as false witnesses, or trustworthy witnesses?
God hates “one who spreads strife among brothers.”
Therefore, God loves one who spreads peace among his brothers. It is really only possible to spread peace or strife. Every word we speak contributes one of those two attitudes to our relationships. And God loves those who value peace over 1) proving a point, 2) being heard, or 3) manipulating situations. With one word at a time, God wants us to change our attitude and sow seeds of peace in our relationships.
When the Answer is No
Scripture Reading — 1 Samuel 28:3-20
[Saul] inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him. . . . — 1 Samuel 28:6
Saul had to fight with Israel’s enemy the Philistines again. And when he saw the opposing army, “he was afraid; terror filled his heart.” He wanted to ask the Lord about what he should do, but the Lord did not respond to him. Saul needed advice, but old Samuel the prophet was dead. So Saul decided to use a medium, a spiritist, to try to communicate with the spirit of Samuel from the dead.
Old Samuel told Saul that the Lord had torn the kingdom from him and given it to David. The Philistines would crush Israel, and Saul and his sons would die. When Saul heard this, he fell to the ground, “filled with fear because of Samuel’s words.”
God’s no to Saul was an attempt to wake him up and turn him away from trying to get his own way. But would Saul listen?
Oftentimes for us too, the Lord’s no might be his way of trying to get our attention to repent from destructive choices and choose a different path. What will it take for us to trust and obey God?
Streams in the Desert – November 17
- 202117 Nov
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? (Luke 18:6-7)
God’s seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again. God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations. Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication.
In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last.
Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things? We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God’s promises at our back.
Never let us despair. God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask in faith nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the King delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready; you will get a light before long.
—C. H. Spurgeon
I do not believe that there is such a thing in the history of God’s kingdom as a right prayer offered in a right spirit that is forever left unanswered.
—Theodore L. Cuyler