Sunday, January 5, 2014

Are we vexed or stirred?

2 Peter 2:6-9

King James Version (KJV)
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

Acts 17:16-17

King James Version (KJV)

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Acts 17:22-31

King James Version (KJV)

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Sometimes, some of the greatest lessons we can learn through studying the Bible comes from comparing Bible characters. Today, we are going to compare two men who lived in evil cultures. Two men who God calls righteous. Two men who, though they had  calling on their lives, ended with vastly different results. 

The first man we will look at is Lot. Lot left an evil country (Ur of the chaldees) and traveled with his uncle Abram (later called Abraham). He learned a lot from his uncle's walk with God. He watched his uncle grow in faith. He shared in the blessings of his uncle's godly life. He did not stick around to see just how much his uncle's faith would grow.

Instead, being a business man himself, he made choices based not on God, but on increasing his business. He was a shepherd, just like his uncle. His flocks increased and he became rich, just like his uncle. However, when two great businesses try to occupy the same space, something has got to give. 

When Abram gave Lot a choice to solve the conflict with their employees, Lot chose to take what was to him the "best location." Rather than staying in the wilderness, he moved his business and pitched his tents "towards Sodom." To his human vision, the land looked to be richer towards Sodom. He would have more buyers for his wool if he moved closer to the population center of Sodom. So, he chose "the better deal."

After he was gone, God again spoke to Abram and told him how much he was going to bless him, promising him more wealth and property than he could ever use. 

The next time we see Lot, he is now living in Sodom. More than that, he now sits at the gate as a leader of the city. A respected and powerful business man, who's opinion is looked to on matters small and great. Yet, 2 Peter says that Lot's spirit was VEXED. 

The word vexed in the Greek here means: "(to be vexed with something irksome); to feel indignant at:--be grieved at. "

In other words, Lot lived in that evil city, giving people advice, helping them in their businesses, helping them set city policy, but he lived in a state of tolerance. He tolerated their lifestyles. He hated their lifestyles and did not allow their lifestyles in his home, but due to business and political concerns, he did not openly rebuke their sins. It might have cost him his position in the city. It may have cost him customers if he had stood against their sins. So, he silently grieved at the state of his city- doing nothing.

The result was terrible. He lost his position. He lost his business. He lost his wife. He lost his son's in law. He left with his daughters and the clothes on their backs and that was all. The city he had chosen to make his fortune was destroyed. He was still called a righteous man in the new testament, but not much else good is said about him.

In the new testament, we see the Apostle Paul in another ungodly city. He had the same concerns as Lot, for he made his living as a tent-maker and was a leader of men. As such he experienced the same temptation to be tolerant that Lot did, yet, Paul didn't give in. He wasn't vexed by the city. He was stirred.

The Greek for "stirred" here means, "to make sharp, sharpen
  1. to stimulate, spur on, urge
  2. to irritate, provoke, arouse to anger"

Paul looked around him at the idolatry and evil in the city and didn't give his business or his community standing a single thought. His thoughts were that a) this idolatry and sin was an open affront to the one true God, and b) these people need to know about Jesus and have the opportunity to be saved.

So, he disputed with the religious and a few verses later, disputed with the "great thinkers" of his day. Did he have any converts? A few. But, all were given the chance to know Jesus.

What about us? What do we do?

Do we who know the truths of scripture live with a vexed heart, like Lot? Do we hate what we see around us, but do and say nothing about it because of the perceived ill effects it may have on us and our status and bank accounts?  
Or, do we, like Paul, stand up against the sins of our society and risk it all for love of God and love for their souls?

Paul went on to write 2/3 of the new testament. He was easily the greatest evangelist in church history. Through the process, he was stoned, beaten, imprisoned, ridiculed, scorned, and eventually beheaded. Yet, he could say, "I have fought the good fight. I have won the race. And now there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness..."

Lot fades into obscurity. A beaten and defeated man who lost it all by trying to protect it all.

Which one do you want to be like? Lot or Paul?

I for one am tired. I'm tired of being told not to speak. I'm tired of being pressured into tolerating the evil that is growing more and more prevalent around us. I'm tired of hearing folks cuss, but being told not to mention Jesus. I don't want to be like Lot and lose it all by trying to preserve it all. I want to be like Paul, who risked it all and gained it all.

No more vexation for me. Lord, stir me! Let me see through your eyes and feel with your heart. Let me speak with your mouth and act with your hands. I don't want to be vexed, I want to be stirred!

What will it be for you? Will you be vexed? Or will you be stirred?