Living the Truth (7)
Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. It came to pass the same day that Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water.” That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they dug and said to him, “We have found water.” Genesis 26.31, 32
The day after making a covenant with Abimelech, guess what: Nothing changed.
Abimelech returned to his part of Gerar and resumed the business of being a pagan king.
Isaac and his servants continued keeping their flocks, sowing their fields, and looking for water. There is no indication that Abimelech became a believer in the God of Isaac, and Isaac wasn’t invited back to his original place of prosperity among the Philistines.
After their brief encounter, which featured a sharper focus on Isaac’s God and the promises He had made to His people, both men went back to status quo ante and business-as-usual. No confessions of faith. No revival. No dramatic social or cultural transformations.
This is often how the Gospel makes progress among the unbelievers in our lives: in small increments, during opportune moments of sharper focusing, bracketed about by long periods of just taking care of things in the will of the Lord.
We are called to make disciples as we are going about our daily activities, amid the everyday relationships, roles, and responsibilities God has appointed to us. Progress in seeing the Lord’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven can sometimes be glacial. But even incremental progress is progress, and all progress is a work of the Lord as we continue faithfully attending to whatever may be the business at hand.
Did Isaac miss a golden opportunity here to “evangelize” his Philistine neighbors? Should he have explained God’s promises and covenant to Abimelech and called him to believe? In Gospel or Kingdom terms, did Isaac “blow it”?
Hardly. Rather, by his humility, decency, fairness, self-effacing ways, and overall graciousness, he provoked an opportunity for growing closer to his neighbors. The challenge from this point would be to continue that way of life until the Lord created the next open door of opportunity.
This is the challenge we face each day: How to get closer to the people around us so that we can show them the love of Christ whenever a door of opportunity cracks open.
Someone once described war as long periods of tedious preparation, watching, and waiting, interspersed by relatively brief interludes of all-out danger and excitement.
Living the truth before an unbelieving age is rather like that.
Stay the course
We must be always preparing ourselves to live for Christ and bear witness to Him at every opportunity, growing in the Lord, praying for our neighbors, acquiring skills for ministry, and making the plans that will help us in working our Personal Mission Field. By being continually conscious of our calling and the people to whom God sends us, we will be more alert to the opportunities for living His truth that the Lord brings us each day (Eph. 5.15-17).
At the same time, we must guard against any inroads of unrighteousness in our lives, so that we maintain a consistent witness of goodness and truth, even as we are constantly making ready for the next opportunity to talk about the Lord.
Living the truth means being a witness with our lives and speaking a witness by our words; but these must be complementary one to the other. Our lives must uphold the reliability of our words, and our words must give the logical explanation for our lives. This way of life is referred to as a walk, a race, a warfare, and a building project in which we need to persevere, step by step, brick by brick, hill by hill, and lap by lap, always striving and always seeking to show the power of grace in a life of loving service and truthful conversation.
Staying the course, in other words, focused on Christ and serving as His ambassadors to the people around us.
The more we keep on keeping on in this way of life, the more opportunities we will have for talking with others about the hope that is within us. Setbacks and slights will come, but so will open doors of opportunity. We need to know how to respond to each, always showing the grace of our Lord Jesus and standing firm in the truth of the Gospel in everything we do.
We are like Isaac, the Lord’s ambassadors in a strange country. Our calling is to walk humbly with our God, to bear fruit and make disciples, and always – always – to respect the people around us, even as we work to show them the love of Christ and proclaim the message of His Kingdom to them. Let us not grow weary in this pursuit, but wait upon the Lord, encourage and pray for one another, and keep on.
Next steps – Preparation: Pray each day for the people in your Personal Mission Field you expect to see that day. Ask God to help you live the truth so that people see the hope that is within you. Be ready to talk about Jesus as opportunities arise.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.