September 2018

From The Pastor's Heart

Have you ever jumped in to help someone only to discover that your intervention did no good?

By Charles F. Stanley

As a pastor, my desire is to help people. If I see someone heading in the wrong direction, I want to stop them so they won’t ruin their life. However, I have learned that it’s not always the Lord’s will for me to intervene in people’s lives because I could be getting in God’s way.

Have you ever jumped in to help someone only to discover that your intervention did no good and may even have prolonged the difficult situation? This can often be the case when a parent wants to protect an erring teenager or young adult child. Instead of letting the child suffer the consequences and learn from the mistake, the parent rescues them, thereby sabotaging an essential life lesson God could have taught them.

Knowing whether or not to help someone isn’t always a clear-cut choice. After all, Christians are called to bear each other’s burdens, help those in need, and show compassion and kindness. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do these things, but I am recommending caution in overstepping what God wants you to do. This is what we commonly refer to as setting boundaries. And in this case the boundary we must abide by is God’s will.

Since the Lord is the only one who knows each person and situation fully, He alone knows the best way to help a hurting, straying, or mistreated person.

Since the Lord is the only one who knows each person and situation fully, He alone knows the best way to help a hurting, straying, or mistreated person. That’s why we should always seek to align our actions with His ways, and that means we must read and study His Word to discover how He responds to various situations and what His goals and purposes are.

A story in Matthew 16:21-26 shows how Jesus responded when Peter wanted to protect Him from danger. After Jesus told the disciples that He would suffer and die, Peter was horrified and rebuked Him saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” (v. 22). Jesus must have shocked Peter when He turned and said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (v. 23). Peter was trying to do what he thought was best, but instead, became an obstacle to God’s will.

Sometimes we are guilty of the same thing. First, we get in God’s way when we are ignorant of His plans. Peter was making a decision based on partial knowledge instead of submissively learning and believing what Jesus had just revealed to him.

Peter knew Scripture predicted that the Messiah would come to deliver Israel from Gentile domination, set up His earthly kingdom, and rule the entire world from Jerusalem (Zech. 14). But he failed to recognize that Isaiah had also predicted the Messiah would suffer and die (Isa. 53).

In the same way, we only have partial knowledge on most topics. Yet we tend to swing into action after hearing someone’s side of the story without realizing that only God knows what’s truly going on in that person’s life. And He alone knows what needs to be done and how to accomplish it.

Second, we get in God’s way when we fail to see pain as the tool He uses to accomplish His purposes. Jesus’ suffering and death were essential for the redemption of mankind. John the Baptist called Him “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Any Jew would have realized that lambs were killed as substitutes for repentant sinners. But Peter couldn’t see that any good would come from the Messiah’s death.

And isn’t that how we often view affliction and pain? We want to think that God’s goal is always to relieve suffering, but in reality, sometimes it’s a tool He uses to accomplish His good purposes. The psalmist understood this when he wrote, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Ps. 119:71). When we step into someone’s life to ease their suffering without considering what God’s purpose might be for the pain, we could find ourselves at odds with His will.

Third, we get in God’s way when we selfishly seek what we want rather than what God desires. Although Peter loved Jesus, he also had a selfish motive for wanting Him to live. He’d left his occupation and home to follow Jesus. If He died, what would Peter do? He was expecting Him to set up the kingdom, and as one of His disciples, Peter would then have a place of honor and authority. This was the hope of all the disciples. That’s why they argued about which one of them would be greatest in the kingdom (Luke 22:24).

Sometimes our motivations for helping others are not as selfless as we’d like to think. Our main concern may not be God’s will but our desire for someone to do what we think is best. That’s why it’s always wise to ask the Lord to purify our motives and guide our steps so we can cooperate with His plan instead of getting in His way.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P. S. Here at In Touch, we truly appreciate the opportunity to encourage you through our broadcasts and publications. We pray that your Christian life will be enriched and strengthened through our ministry and that God will be glorified.


What happens to my notes

21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.

22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You."

23 But He turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

1 Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you.

2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.

3 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle.

4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

5 You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!

6 In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle.

7 For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light.

8 And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.

9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.

10 All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin's Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses.

11 People will live in it, and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security.

12 Now this will be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth.

13 It will come about in that day that a great panic from the LORD will fall on them; and they will seize one another's hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another.

14 Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered, gold and silver and garments in great abundance.

15 So also like this plague will be the plague on the horse, the mule, the camel, the donkey and all the cattle that will be in those camps.

16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.

18 If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

19 This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

20 In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, HOLY TO THE LORD." And the cooking pots in the LORD'S house will be like the bowls before the altar.

21 Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts in that day.

1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.

24 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.

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