Psalms 23, 1 Samuel 15: 22-31, Ephesians 5:1-9
Psalms 23: verse 1 translated in the English Standard Version (ESV) states “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”. If I can begin to truly grasp and stand on that one verse, I could live the most beautiful, love filled and stress free life ever. Here is the problem: I’m still human. While reading and studying 1 Samuel 15:22-31, verse 22 really spoke into my spirit. It states ‘And Samuel said, ‘has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?’ Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams”. The rest of the passage goes on to talk about how King Saul sinned and turned away from listening and obeying the word of God, and because of fear started obeying the voice of the people. Ephesians 5: 1-9 simply confirms the writings from 1 Samuel. The one thing that I try to firmly stand on is this; before I make any attempt to speak into someone else’s life I conduct an honest assessment of my own life. I can go back almost twenty-two years ago, when I truly gave my life to Christ, and see clearly the times when I fail to listen and obey the word of God. I let outside influences rule over my life without even being aware it was happening. I gave into the fear of what people would think about me; if obeying the word of God would make me seem self-righteous. As we grow in Christ, and our relationship strengthens, we become the benefactors of God’s redeeming love, grace and mercy.
Going forward into 2020, let us conduct self-assessments of our current lives; pondering two very serious questions. First, and this is a question that I think we lose track of when reading and studying this passage, are we really listening to the word of God? When I facilitate discussions in a group setting I use ground rules to make for a fair, open and honest conversation. One rule is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. Simply explained, often times when someone is speaking to us, we’re not really listening because we are too busy forming thoughts to respond. Are we treating God that way when He’s speaking to us? Are we too busy forming thoughts of all the reasons we can’t or won’t hear Him? Secondly, do we have a problem obeying the word of God out of fear, of what not only people in general, but our family and friends think as well. I mentioned earlier the redeeming love, grace and mercies of Christ. Many years ago I too fell short of listening and obeying, but being a benefactor, I too have been redeemed by God’s love, grace and mercy. So if that day for you needs to be today, to start being the benefactor of God’s love, grace and mercy, rest assured God is ready, willing and able to do all things.
Gary B. Hunter Sr.