April 18: Operating Standards
Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12; 2 Corinthians 8:16–24; Psalm 46
Sometimes I operate on the premise that if I’m honoring God and following Him, I don’t have to be concerned with what other people think. But carrying this too far is just as faulty as basing my identity on the approval of others. One leads to foolish pride and independence, and the other results in idolatry.
Paul, upon receiving a generous gift from believers in Jerusalem, felt called to explain his actions to the Corinthian church. He was intentional about how he would accept the gift, “lest anyone should find fault with us in this abundant gift that is being administered by us” (2 Cor 8:20). He explains why he is so concerned: “For we are taking into consideration what is honorable not only before the Lord, but also before people” (2 Cor 8:21).
In his ministry, Paul considered how his actions would be interpreted by observers. Since he experienced opposition in the community, he wanted to communicate how he would receive the gift—to be above reproach. The gospel was primary, and he wanted to avoid accusations that would impede the message of salvation.
Daily, we face situations where we can be governed by others’ opinions. We also can offend them. When are we too vigilant? How do we keep from becoming a robot, motivated by other people’s desires instead of love for God? When do we challenge other people’s faith, instead of tiptoeing around them? Answering these questions takes incredible wisdom.
In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul draws from Proverbs 3: “May loyal love and truth not forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them upon your heart. And you shall find favor and good sense in the eyes of God and humankind” (Prov 3:3–4). Acting out of love, with a foundation of truth, can help us learn to honor God and love people. Being human, we will not always carry this out successfully. But operating on both love and truth and seeking wisdom and guidance for every situation, we can trust God to work out those places where we fail.
When it comes to relationships, what is your basis for operation?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Now this is the blessing wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death, and said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them, and appeared clearly from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousand of Saints and at his right hand a fiery Law for them. Though he love the people, yet all thy Saints are in thine hands: and they are humbled at thy feet, to receive thy words. Moses commanded us a Law for an inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob. Then he was among the righteous people, as King, when the heads of the people, and the tribes of Israel were assembled. Let Reuben live, and not die, though his men be a small number. And thus he blessed Judah, and said, Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: his hands shall be sufficient for him, if thou help him against his enemies. And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thine Urim be withe thine Holy one, whom thou didst prove in Massah, and didst cause him to strive at the waters of Meribah. Who said unto his fatther and to his mother, I have not seen him, neither knew he his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they observed thy word, and kept thy Covenant. They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy Law: they shall put incense before thy face, and the burnt offering upon thine Altar. Bless, O Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again. Of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him: the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and dwell between his shoulders. And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord is his land for the sweetness of heaven, for the dew, and for the depth lying beneath, And for the sweet incense of the Sun, and for the sweet increase of the Moon, And for thy sweetness of the top of the ancient mountains, and for the sweetness of the old hills, And for the sweetness of the earth, and abundance therefore: and the good will of him that dwelt in the bush, shall come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. His beauty shall be like his firstborn bullock, and his horns as the horns of an unicorn: with them he shall smite the people together, even the ends of the world: these are also the ten thousands of Ephraim, and these are the thousands of Manasseh. And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out, and thou Issachar in thy tents. They shall call the people unto the mountain: there they shall offer the sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the sea, and of the treasures hid in the sand. Also of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, that catcheth for his prey the arm with the head. And he looked to himself at the beginning, because there was a potion of the Law giver hid: yet he shall come with the heads of the people, to execute the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel. And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan. Also of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisified with favor, and filled with the blessing of the Lord, possess the West and the South. And of Asher he said, Asher shall be blessed with children: he shall be acceptable unto his brethren, and shall dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and thy strength shall continue as long as thou livest. There is none like God, O righteous people, which rideth upon the heavens for thine help, and on the clouds in his glory. The eternal God is thy refuge, and under his arms thou art forever: he shall cast out the enemy before thee, and will say, Destroy them. Then Israel the fountain of Jacob shall dwell alone in safety in a land of wheat and wine: also his heavens shall drop the dew. Blessed art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thine help, and which is the sword of thy glory? therefore thine enemies shall be in subjection to thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places. Then Moses went from the plain of Moab up into mount Nebo unto the top of Pisgah that is over against Jericho: and the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea: And the South, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm tree, unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab over against Beth Peor, but no man knoweth of his sepulcher unto this day. Moses was now an hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eyes were not dim, nor his natural force abated: And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plain of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. And Josha the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom: for Moses had put his hands upon him. And the children of Israel were obedient unto him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. But there arose not a Prophet since in Israel like unto Moses (whom the Lord knew face to face.) In all the miracles and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt before Pharaoh and before all his servants, and before all his land, And in all that mighty hand and all that great fear, which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel. Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12
- And thanks be unto God, which had put in the heart of Titus the same care for you. Because he accepted the exhortation, yea, he was so careful that of his own accord he went unto you. And we have sent also with him the brother, whose praise isin the Gospel throughout all the Churches. (And not so only, but is also chosen of the Churches to be a fellow in our journey, concerning this grace that is ministered by us unto the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your prompt mind.) Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance that is ministered by us, Providing for honest things, not only before the Lord, but also before men. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have ofttimes proved to be diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, for the great confidence, which I have in you. Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my fellow and helper to you-ward: or of our brethren, they are messengers of the Churches, and the glory of Christ. Wherefore show toward them, and before the Churches the proof of your love, and of the rejoicing that we have of you. 2 Corinthians 8:16–24
- God is our hope and strength, and help in troubles, ready to be found. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains fall into the midst of the sea. Though the waters thereof rage and be troubled, and the mountians shake at the surges of the same. Selah. Yet there is a River, whose stream shall make glad the City of God: even the Sanctuary of the Tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of it: therefore shall it not be moved: God shall help it very early. When the nations raged, and the kingdoms wee moved, God thundred, and the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us: the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come and behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the world, he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear, and burneth the chariots with fire. Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the heathen, and I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us: the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Psalm 46