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First Do No Harm, Christians

Posted by Job on March 15, 2007

Proverbs 3:30 – Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm. 

In “Be Wrong”, we revealed that Christians should not allow fear of error to paralyze them. However, Christians should also not do the opposite: to act in a manner that is rash, presumptuous, or reactionary. When deciding whether to rise and act, stay still and wait on the Lord, or simply move out of the way, our motivation cannot be internal but external: our direction must come from the Lord. We cannot refuse to act in an area where God has instructed us to out of fear that we will fail to execute His Commands. We also cannot act without instruction from either God or someone that God has placed in authority over us because we desire to do His Will. Instead, we have to have faith that if God told us to do something and we accept the challenge (which means putting forth an honest effort rather than an “I tried”), then whatever happens will be the Will of and pleasing to God. Knowing that bringing God’s Will to pass is dependent not upon us but upon God should remove that fear. At the same time, not doing something that God has told you to do – or at least not doing it right away – is not as negative as doing something that God HASN’T told you to do. If you fail to immediately act upon God’s Will, no harm is done, for either God’s Will is merely delayed (and as God is timeless that is not much of a concern in the spiritual realm) or God will simply select someone else. But when it comes to something that God HASN’T told you to do, then it is either not God’s Will for you to do it, or not His Will at that particular time. So, if you go out and do it, then you create a negative that either has to be suffered or undone, and whether it is to be suffered or undone that exerts energy that would be better spent doing the Will of God. So while you do no real harm in the spirit realm by failing to act but cause harm in at minimum a waste of energy by acting where God has not directed your action, the best course of action for a Christian is to follow a principle given in the Hippocratic oath for doctors: “First do no harm.” You can add to that the principle given by Paul in I Corinthians 8 and also Jesus Christ in Matthew 17:24 – 27: “cause no offense regarding matters that have no potential to advance God’s Will.” 

In order to walk in this truth, one must be free of impatience, arrogance, and fear. We should not live in constant fear that God is going to become displeased with us and strike out against us in His Wrath. Why? Because once we accept salvation through Christ, we are God’s, and God does not destroy that which is His but that which is Satan’s. Instead, God will merely chastise, rebuke, reprove, or correct us, and Christians are supposed to love it when we receive such from God because it demonstrates that God still loves us and has not cast us aside, and it is the process by which we learn right from wrong and grow in the Lord. We should not act out of arrogance, thinking that God needs us or the church needs us. God’s Will being done does not depend on any particular man, or any man for that matter. Remember when Jesus Christ told the Pharisees: “if God can’t find a person to do His Will, He Will create one” (Matthew 3:9). Consider even more so that the context of that verse was Christ telling the Jewish religious leaders that if the Jews did not accept Christ as the Messiah and work to establish the Kingdom of Heaven and draw all nations of the world to God through Him, then God would get the Gentiles to do it. Which, of course, is precisely what God did when the Jews rejected Christ out of arrogance and faithlessness. And we should also act in patience, knowing that the ways of the Father are not like, conformed to, or dependent upon the ways or happenings in this world. Our human thinking has conformed us into believing notions like “You have to be at the right place at the right time doing the right thing in order for good things to come your way.” For instance: want to get that job? Show up for the interview half an hour early well dressed and fully prepared. People who walk by faith alone know that if it is God’s Will for you to receive the job, you will receive it, and furthermore God will still be the one blessing and providing for you whether you get the job or not. This is not to say, of course, that God will not require you to “show up for the interview half an hour early well dressed and fully prepared”, because after all you are representing Him through His Christ to the world, and that image is NOT one of irresponsibility, unreliability, and ill – preparedness. But rather, if you DO get the job, it WON’T be because you showed up for the interview half an hour early well dressed and fully prepared. We cannot run around thinking that the world is going to come to an end billions of souls will be cast into the lake of fire if I don’t do this RIGHT NOW!  

Instead, we should be willing to wait upon the Lord. We should be willing to surrender our desire to be in control, to get the credit, to do things our way, and to be comfortable with situations. Instead, our only thoughts should be of glorifying God. And that is a big part of the problem. A lot of people only desire to obey God out of obligation because they want to go to Heaven and avoid the lake of fire. Well, the least that can be said about such people is that they are no fools, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). But if we want to GLORIFY the Lord, then our love for God will surpass our own self – centered desire not to burn. It is the whole “positive reinforcement by reward” versus “negative reinforcement by punishment” thing.  Many Christians like to go around proclaiming for themselves: “I do this in the Name of the Lord!” without ever asking themselves “Is God glorified by this? Is God pleased by this? Or is it about me being regarded as a man of God in my own eyes and the eyes of other men?” We have to have the attitude of Stephen the martyr, which is “I do not care what happens to me so long as my God is pleased.”  

And we also have to have faith. In what? The faithfulness of God. We have to know that no matter what, God’s Will shall be done. Recall when Elijah was running from Jezebel and complained that he was alone? God reassured Elijah that HE HAD RESERVED TO HIMSELF righteous men in
Israel, revealing that no matter what was going on God is still in complete control! So we have to know that no matter what happens, God’s Will is going to happen anyway. God is going to raise someone up to do His Will, and He is going to fill that person with His Word and His Spirit to make sure that it happens, just as He did with David. Even if you do not, God Will. That is something that should reassure you into knowing that you can wait until you are certain that your actions are inspired by God. By failing to wait on the Lord to keep His Promises, we create situations like Abram (Abraham) did with Ishmael and Hagar. We have to be like Joseph, who though he had not sinned was sold to
Egypt as a slave and had to wait 20 years for the vision that God gave him to be realized. Joseph took no action on his own implement his vision, but instead he stood back and let God do it all.
 

We often have this notion that we need to “help God.” This is what got Uzzah killed when he grabbed hold of the ark of the covenant in order to steady it while it was being transported in an ox cart. Uzzah should have had faith that God would not allow anything bad to happen to the ark and therefore obeyed God and not touched it, especially since the ark had been in the possession of the Philistines, who returned it without the Israelites’ doing a thing to get it back. Similarly, David acted presumptuously out of his own self  will in deciding to build the temple without God having told him to do it first. David did the same – with disastrous results – when he did a census in order to determine Israel’s military capabilities, knowing full well from his own experiences that God went out before Israel in battle and therefore it did not matter whether their army was as big as those of Egypt, Syria, Assyria,
Babylon, etc. Again, God does not need our help. Instead, He demands of us that we be obedient and that we have faith, and He does this so that He can use us because He wants to use us, and not because He needs to use us.
 

Now it is one thing to be hard – hearted, know the right thing to do, and refuse to do it out of a fearful, rebellious, or unloving heart, but another to simply honestly not know which way is the right one to turn and being content to just sit at the intersection until God tells us the right way. The former rejects God while the latter is only trying to worship and glorify God by staying within His Will and keeping His Commandments. One way to know which is God’s Will: it will be something that does not sound easy, fun, or even sensible. It will be something that your flesh and everything that is of this world will try to reject. Usually the Christian, especially the new Christian, sees something that He can do that he perceives is for the Lord, and gets all excited and eager to get moving. Though you might use your personal joy as evidence that what you are doing is God’s Will – indeed, you may mistake your joy for being moved by the Holy Spirit – the truth is that God’s Word tells us not to trust our hearts and flesh. It would be better to wait around for something that distresses you, because if it is something righteous it will conflict with your unrighteous flesh. You would also know that if something was righteous yesterday, it will still be righteous tomorrow. You have this worldly slogan: “Time waits for no man”, a Godly negation of that would be “righteousness leaves behind nothing that is righteous.”  

People think that when they become saved, they become “good” through Christ, and since they are now “good”, then they will naturally want “good” things. But God doesn’t want “good things”, God wants obedience. There were plenty of times in scripture that God instructed His children to do things that weren’t “good”, from telling Abraham to drive off Ishmael and Hagar and then sacrifice Isaac to telling Ezekiel to defile himself to telling Jesus Christ to go to the cross. Please note that Abraham begged God to let him keep his son, Ezekiel protested vociferously when God told him to make himself unclean, and Jesus Christ pleaded in
Gethsemane for another way to be made so that He would not have to go to the cross. In each instance, they had to war against their own flesh: Abraham’s love for Ishmael and sense of responsibility for Hagar,  Ezekiel’s sense of righteousness under the law, and Jesus Christ’s human desire to avoid death and torment (proving that Jesus Christ was 100% man just as He was also 100% God).  If God required of Jesus Christ a thing that conflicted His Perfect Flesh, how much more will He require of us in our corrupt flesh? Now do not get me wrong, yes you are made “good” by accepting salvation through Christ, but what has been made “good” is your spirit man, not your physical body or your mind, will, and emotions. The “goodness” in your spirit man and the indwelling Holy Spirit will continually be in conflict with your body and soul, a fact that can only be addressed by the renewing of the mind (or soul). And once you get a renewed mind, that does not necessarily mean that you will have more discernment concerning the Will of God. Rather, a renewed mind will mean that you are willing to wait until you find out the Will of God before you rise up to action.
 

Another part of being right: do not offend! Christ said that whoever offends one who believes on Him, it will be better for that offender to be cast into the sea! It applies to God as well, of course, as David refused to kill Saul even in self – defense because Saul was God’s anointed, and David did not want to deal with Saul in the place of God lest he cause some offense to God.  But it also applies to your brother, your neighbor, and even your enemy. Why? Because Jesus Christ said to love all those, and you are not showing love to them by refusing to stop offending them. Oh so many people have reported that they rejected a call to salvation because of the offense shown to them by church people out of a lack of love. One such man was Mohandas Ghandi, who sought to become a Christian but was not allowed to attend the church because of his race. Ghandi went on to be a worldwide leader in his pagan religion, and also taught the whole world the subversive tactics that he used to sever pagan India from Christian England so that
India would be free to practice its paganism unrestrained, and ultimately use that freedom to inflict great persecution upon Christians. I am not going to say that there are a million ways to offend. Rather, I am going to say that even if there is only ONE way to cause offense and you fail to keep it with regards to only ONE person, then you have caused real harm. So, in order not to cause offense, you should take no action until you are sure that it will cause none that God will lay at your charge.
 

If someone is offended by your action, you have caused offense. If someone is offended by your INACTION, then they have taken offense. If you cause offense, then it is your problem and your responsibility to make amends. But if someone takes offense, then it is their problem, and while your responsibility to make amends does not go away, it would be the responsibility of showing the character of a Christian in order to either help develop that character in another Christian or to gain a non – Christian who is seeking such character himself; that being of a peacemaker. Conversely, if you give offense, then your only responsibility would be to set right the wrong that you yourself caused. One of the main problems with these “Christian” civil rights and other political movements is that they purposefully set out to offend people, and then use the offense that they themselves have stirred up as an occasion to play satan, or accuse them of being evil because they possess an offense that they were not responsible for creating. Even if the offense reveals evil in their hearts – say racism – unless it was God that instructed you to provoke that offense so that it might lead the person to repent of the evil in their hearts, then the greater sin will be laid at the charge of the civil rights agitator that provoked a Klu Klux Klansman or neo – Nazi to express their evil and thereby sin than it would be for the racist, especially since offending someone on the basis of worldly matters to achieve worldly objectives is something that DRIVES PEOPLE AWAY FROM GOD (especially if it is being led by Christians, and by Christian ministers more still) rather than bring people to Him. And how can we say that we love our brother, neighbor, or enemy if we are willing to take the chance of driving them away from God just to achieve a political (or for that matter any) objective? And if we do not love our brother, neighbor, or enemy that we can see, how can we say that we love the God whom we do see? Again, this is the product of trying to do things your own way in order to establish your own notion of justice and righteousness in this world using the devices of Satan rather than having faith  that God will forever bring justice and righteousness in a world that has rejected both through His Son when He returns to rule with a rod of iron. It is ghastly that no one in the Christian community is willing to stand up AS CHRISTIANS and inform these subversives of the evil seeds that they have sowed and the evil fruit (producing after its own kind with a seed in itself!) that virtually everyone must suffer as a result (fortunately Christians are able to and should be counting it all to joy and the glory of God that they should suffer such things, but those who are not Christians where is their hope, joy, and glory to be in?). Rather than confront these “Christian activists” with the Bible, most Christians actually praise their works and the consequences of their works, which is more ghastly still.  

The bottom line is, as always, to live for God and not yourself. If you live for God, then your fear of failing Him is not going to rule you, and if you live for God, your desire to promote yourself or even to serve God in the way that you think that God ought to be served is not going to drive you. If you live for God, you are going to be willing to labor in prayer and supplication until you find out the Will of God, and to stand still until the strongholds have been broken down and that Will has been discovered. Such is as what Daniel did, who waited until the messenger that God sent to Daniel overcame the prince of
Persia with the aid of Michael until the Word of God arrived. And if you live for God, you will do whatever that Word is, even if it is something disagreeable to you (and there is a great chance that it will be as the righteousness of God’s Will and Word opposes and agitates all that is corrupt, which includes your flesh). So long as you are serious about doing everything for God and to seek nothing for yourself, then your walk with God will be as one who is right and does right.
 

Prayer:  

Father God in the Name of Jesus Christ, may your children be patient and determined enough to discover Your Will and be obedient enough to do it, and may the root of this be a great love for You rather than themselves. Please, Lord, send your prophets, teachers, pastors, and preachers to inform and instruct Your children on how to know and walk in this principle that is pleasing in Your Sight so that many more works that are Your Will shall be produced that are pleasing to Your Sight, and far fewer works that are an abomination to You and a stench in Your Nostrils that You will reject and spew out of Your Mouth will be produced. In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Deliverance:  

Impatience, immaturity, fear, recklessness, and self – seeking are evil spirits that operate in this area to cause Christians to act as they should not outside of the Will of God, and also to give offense carelessly or unawares. Further, rebellion, bitterness, resentment, jealously, hate, witchcraft, confusion, revenge, and control cause Christians to purposely give offense to achieve their own goals rather than to pursue the Will of God and be satisfied with it. Please read the Basic Spiritual Warfare guide to learn more about how to go against these demons to help set captives free and win battles in the name of your God through the power, authority, and victory given to you by his Son Jesus Christ and by his blood shed for you!

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