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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #17 – Diversion

Introduction

As we continue our series on the disciplines that the Christian should incorporate into his character, we would like to take a look at The Discipline of Diversion. As we have pointed out in previous articles in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “training that corrects molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

We have been using, as an anchor for this series, a book by V. Raymond Edman published in 1948 titled The Disciplines of Life. Although Mr. Edman was associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and I don’t agree with everything he wrote, many of the things he has written resonate with me.

As he begins the chapter on Diversion, Edman says, “Duty to be performed may be difficult, dreary, even dangerous; but it is delight when done. There are many dangers between detail of duty and ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’; and not least among the dangers to be defined and denied is that of diversion. We remember the old fable of the race between the tortoise and the hare; and while we admit we are not so patient as the plodder who won the encounter, we disagree that we are as stupid as the sleepy-head that lost. The danger of diversion from the plain path of duty is always with us; and at no time should we be over confident of our powers and progress toward the goal” (p. 211).

Please observe, as Edman points out, that Diversion from Duty may come from sheer carelessness on our part, or from dangers of the way, or from undue emphasis on the unnecessary details of the duty, or from preoccupation with the past. We shall now notice each of these in turn.

Diversion from Duty May Come by Sheer Carelessness on Our Part

An illustration from scripture can be found in 1Kings 20:39-40 where the prophet, who has been entrusted with a responsibility, proves unreliable, and thus endangers both himself and his country.  “As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, ‘Sir, I was in the thick of battle, and suddenly a man brought me a prisoner. He said, ‘Guard this man; if for any reason he gets away, you will either die or pay a fine of seventy-five pounds of silver!’ But while I was busy doing something else, the prisoner disappeared!’ ‘Well, it’s your own fault,’ the king replied. ‘You have brought the judgment on yourself.’

Young people are often guilty of this. A number of things compete for the youngster’s attention. “Diversion, however, lurks in the uphill climb to success, not necessarily wicked things, just carelessness, idleness, day-dreaming, the radio, a bull-session, a magazine article, even a long letter that has its place, but not first place when duty calls. There was every intention to do the work, to finish the assignment, to be faithful to one’s trust; but they were undisciplined in denying themselves leisure or luxury, just ‘busy here and there’ with trivialities until the hour-glass of opportunity had emptied itself and the task was unfinished. The better is often the enemy of the best; and we are  busy with good things, important activities, helpful enterprises, but not the duty we are to do now. College students are tempted to substitute the extra-curricular for the curricular, the social for the academic, the easy for the difficult, the interesting for the essential, the recreational for the creative, the better for the best. Everything worthwhile has its time and place, but not the same time nor place. Beware lest by being ‘busy here and there’ we get nowhere” (pp. 212-213).

Diversion from Duty Can Come Through Dangers of the Way

Daniel of Scripture was faithful and effective in the execution of his duties, both secular and divine. This caused great envy with the court politicians and they caused the king to make illegal the worship of any kind for a period of 30 days, with a penalty attached for violation. This threat did not deter Daniel from maintaining consistently that the living God was his helper. He said “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed” (2:28). He told Nebuchadnezzar, “You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses” (4:25). And again, “Daniel answered the king, “Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means. Your Majesty, the Most High God gave sovereignty, majesty, glory, and honor to your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar… or you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! (5:17, 18, 23).

We know well the rest of the story, that Daniel faced the threat of the lion’s den but he maintained his faith and his integrity. We may not face anywhere near the threat that Daniel faced but we do face the possibility of diversion from our duty by danger to ourselves or those we love. “Happy is that heart that is faithful in his responsibilities to God and his fellowmen and that can say, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me’ (Heb. 13:6). Disciplined to do one’s duty despite any danger!” (p. 214).

Diversion from Duty Can Come from Undue Emphasis on the Unnecessary Details of the Duty

The story of our Lord in the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha illustrates this point. As you recall, Scripture describes, “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42). The contrast is made in the passage between these two women. Martha is chastised by the Lord for being overly concerned about the physical details of serving. Edman offers this comment, “Many efforts have been made to discern deeply what our Lord meant in His word to Martha, but those I have read miss the point of His statement. He knew the woman’s heart, and her desire to do her very best for her Guest; but He preferred more fellowship and less food, more conversation on things everlasting and fewer courses, more listening and less luxury…. Diverted from duty and delight by details, interesting but necessary. Too occupied with the trees to see the forest, too fussy about food to have fellowship with our guests, too much serving to listen, too many good errands to run a straight course, too much Martha and too little Mary. We can do much, and yet miss ‘that good part’” (p. 215).

Diversion from Duty Can Also Come from Preoccupation with the Past

The Apostle Paul illustrates this point perfectly. He had both successes and failures from his past that he could have allowed hinder him from doing his duty. He says, “…though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law” (Phil. 3:4-5).

Edman says, “He could have dwelt in detail on the advantage of the Jew in knowledge of the Old Testament, in the promises, in the orthodoxy of the Pharisee… The opposite can also be the case: we can be so grieved by the mistakes and galled by the failures of the past that we have no heart for the present or the future” (p. 216). Paul announces his decision, as he looked at his past life, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Phil. 3:13-14).

Conclusion

“Disciplined not to be diverted from the pathway of duty by present carelessness or impending dangers, by multitude of daily details or the long shadows of the past; this is the discipline of diversion we need that we too can say, ‘This one thing I do!’” (p. 217).

The chapter closes with this poem by George Matheson.

“Make me a captive, Lord,

And then I shall be free.

Force me to render up my sword,

And I shall conquer be.

I sink in life’s alarm

When in myself I stand;

Imprison with Thy mighty arm,

Then strong shall be my hand.

My heart is weak and poor,

Until its Master finds;

It has no spring of action sure,

It varies with the winds.

It cannot freely move

Till Thou hast wrought its chain;

Enslave it with Thy mighty love,

Then deathless I shall reign.”

Thanks for reading.

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 211 – 218)

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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #16 – Distinction

Introduction

As we continue our series on the disciplines that the Christian should incorporate into his character, we would like to take a look at The Discipline of Distinction. As we have pointed out in previous articles in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “training that corrects molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

We have been using, as an anchor for this series, a book by V. Raymond Edman published in 1948 titled The Disciplines of Life. Although Mr. Edman was associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and I don’t agree with everything he wrote, many of the things he has written resonate with me.

As he begins the chapter on Distinction, Edman says, “There are disciplines of the soul that are deeper and more difficult to learn and that determine character more than do those that are obvious. To be sure, there is the discipline of dismay when we know not which way to turn, but there is also that of delight when the pathway is picturesque and appealing; there is the discipline of darkness when we stand humanly alone in the shadows, and also that of light when we think we walk by sight and not by faith; there is the discipline of difficulty when the road is uphill and when heart fails, but also that of ease when we are drugged into a false sense of security, and like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress we sleep in Pleasant Arbor, with consequent loss of time and testimony for Christ; there is the discipline of disease, when in weakness and pain we make  our tryst under the shadow of His wing, and also that health when we seem sufficient to ourselves and think we have little need of Him; there is the discipline of obscurity and neglect when we are overlooked by others, but there is also the discipline of distinction when we come to a place of rare opportunity and responsibility.” (pp. 203-204).

Edman adds further evidence to substantiate that disciplines must be learned by citing Paul’s statement, “… for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12).

King Uzziah Illustrates the Discipline of Distinction (2 Chronicles 26)

A good summary of his life is given in 2Chronicles 26:15b-16a where it says, “And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction…” We might title his story, “A Tragic Conclusion to a Promising Life.” The chronicler says of King Uzziah, that he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but goes on to describe that after a time he made choices that resulted in calamity for him and for his legacy. It would seem that the Lord is providing us warning that how we live, the decisions and the choices that we make, matter a great deal. To begin well is not enough. The Lord wants us to finish well, too

In verses 2 to 15 the chronicler provides us a substantial list of achievements that made King Uzziah great:

  • He rebuilt Eloth and restored it to Judah after Amaziah’s father died (v. 2)
  • He took on several long-term enemies of Judah, the Philistines, the Arabs, the Meunites, and he defeated them all. In doing so, he also gained the fear and tribute and perhaps the vassalage of the Ammonites, and as a result we read in verse 8 that Uzziah’s fame spread as far as the border of Egypt because he had become very strong (vv. 6-8).
  • He built towers in Jerusalem, at several of the gates entering the city. He built towers in the wilderness, in the foothills, and coastal plains around Jerusalem. He also constructed many cisterns for water retention for the large herds of livestock that he owned. The towers Uzziah built in Jerusalem and all around Judah provided fortification and protection for royal workers as well as storage. We read that he employed farmers and vinedressers in the hills and the fertile lands, for we’re told he loved the soil (vv. 9-10).
  • He had a well-trained army that was highly ordered with capable leaders. This was no simple militia. It was a large army of 307,500 who could make war with mighty power. Add to that Uzziah made very significant provisions for his army. In biblical times it was typical for soldiers to provide their own weapons. Not Uzziah’s army. The writer mentions that Uzziah made shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows and stones for slinging for every soldier. Uzziah also had what the ESV calls engines invented by skillful men to be used on the towers to shoot arrows and great stones. This was a very modern and enviable army that would put fear into Judah’s enemies. And one more we read in verse 15 that Uzziah’s fame spread far (vv. 11-15).

The chronicler also explains how Uzziah was able to accomplish his remarkable achievements. We read in verse 4 that Uzziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. In those years that Uzziah flourished, he set himself to seek God….But secondly, Uzziah had help. We also read in that same verse that he had a religious advisor named Zechariah who taught Uzziah to fear the Lord. He was to Uzziah what Jehoiada was to Uzziah’s grandfather Joash. In addition to teaching Uzziah to fear the Lord, one can assume that Zechariah appropriately held Uzziah accountable for his life with God.

God helped Uzziah fight his battles with his enemies (v.7), and Uzziah’s fame spread far for he was marvelously helped until he was strong (v.15). But something went dreadfully wrong. Who would have anticipated anything from King Uzziah but the continued favor of God, and success in all his pursuits? We must now ask what happened.

Verse 16 says, “But when he was strong he grew proud to his destruction, for he was unfaithful to the Lord.” Something radically changed in Uzziah’s life. It seems likely that Zechariah was no longer an influence in his life and had not been replaced by another mentor. Uzziah was ambushed by pride, and with that he ceased fearing the Lord. He was at the top of his game as a king. He had great power. His enemies feared him. He had achieved great things for Judah, and at some point he forgot that it was the Lord’s doing, not his. His pride swelled and he forgot the Lord, and Uzziah fell away.

The chronicler goes on to describe in detail how King Uzziah’s pride manifested itself in verses 16 to 21. Uzziah in his pride was not satisfied to be a great king. He determined to take to himself the responsibilities of the office of priest as well by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. This duty was strictly limited to the priests in Exodus 30 and in Numbers 16 and Numbers 18. To violate this was a capital offense.

Rather than repent, what does Uzziah do? Verse 19 tells us: He became angry with the priests. And although what Uzziah had done was worthy of death, the Lord spared his life, but there were severe lifelong consequences for him. Verse 20 we read that the Lord struck Uzziah with a skin disease described as leprosy that rendered him unclean and unqualified to continue as king for all practical purposes. In verse 21, the chronicler says Uzziah remained a leper the rest of his life and was required to live in a separate house, away from his residence and the temple. Jotham, his son, became a co-regent to rule the people from that time forward. If living the rest of his life as a leper and removed from exercising his duties as king wasn’t enough, we read in verse 23 “and Uzziah slept with his fathers and they buried him with his fathers in the burial field that belonged to the kings, for they said he is a leper.” Uzziah rested in royal land, but not in the tombs of his fathers. It’s a final dishonor. Even in death, says one commentator, Uzziah did not lose the shame of the skin disease which he received as a result of his infidelity.

The Discipline of Distinction Comes to Us When We Have Achieved

Edman says, “The discipline of distinction comes to us when we have achieved a place of prominence, a plane of privilege, a plateau of prosperity, and pleasure of plenty. In prominence do we have the humility of heart that marked us when we followed closely after the meek and merciful Man of Sorrows? … In privilege do we have the concern for the rights and feelings of others that we had when we were ourselves obscure and unimportant? … In prosperity do we have the same tenderness, even tearfulness, of heart and trust in the provision of the God of all grace and comfort that we had when we were penniless in purse and poor in spirit? … In our pleasure of plenty do we remember that once we were in painfulness and weariness, that it was of the Lord’s mercies that we were not consumed, that His grace was sufficient, that ‘every good gift and every perfect gift … cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness’? (Jas. 1:17) (pp. 206-207)

Edman says the real test of character comes when we are exalted and extoled. This certainly is confirmed by the account of Uzziah. Edman says of Uzziah, “He could stand poverty but not prosperity, work but not wealth, toil but not triumph, struggle but not success, duty but not distinction. His heart was lifted up, only to his destruction” (p. 207).

The Discipline of Distinction Speaks When We Can Answer “Yes” to These Questions…

“The discipline of distinction speaks thus: Are we as tender toward sin as when we first were lost? As thankful toward the Saviour as when He saved us? As thoughtful toward others as when we shared a cup of cold water, all we had? As thorough in our study and our service as when we began to tell others about His grace? As trusting in His promises as when we were poor? As trustworthy in our stewardship as when we tithed joyfully our meager resources?” (p. 208).

The Best Preparation for the Discipline of Distinction is Contrition of Heart

Edman says that this contrition of heart “will keep one always contemptible to himself, contrite before the Lord, cautious to hear any appreciation for others, concerned ever with the welfare of others and oblivious of his own pleasure” (p.208).

Conclusion

“May God grant to us the stern discipline that will enable us to regard distinction as a stewardship to be used in His service, bringing with it deepened dependence upon Him, more definite devotion to duty, c. disinclination to hear the adulation of others, distaste for the praise of men, death to self-interest, and daily delight in doing His bidding” (p. 208).

The chapter closes with this poem (Edman does not cite source nor author but many on the internet credit Meade MacGuire, a prominent Adventist leader and author who lived from 1875 until 1967.

“Father, where shall I work today?”

And my love flowed warm and free.

Then He pointed me out a tiny spot,

And said, “Tend that for me.”

I answered quickly, “Oh, no, not that.

Why, no one would ever see,

No matter how well my work was done.

Not that little place for me!”

And the word He spoke, it was not stern,

He answered me tenderly,

“Ah, little one, search that heart of thine;

Art thou working for them or me?

Nazareth was a little place,

And so was Galilee.”

Thanks for reading.

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 203 – 209)

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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #15 – Detail

Introduction

As we continue our series on the disciplines that the Christian should incorporate into his character, we would like to take a look at The Discipline of Detail. As we have pointed out in previous articles in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “training that corrects molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

We have been using, as an anchor for this series, a book by V. Raymond Edman published in 1948 titled The Disciplines of Life. Although Mr. Edman was associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and I don’t agree with everything he wrote, many of the things he has written resonate with me.

As he begins the chapter on Detail, he says, “Life has its occasional crisis that crashes into its commonplaces, but it is more largely made up of details that seem in themselves to be insignificant and unimportant. In the multitude of many duties we may fail altogether to see any pattern to the details of life, and thereby we may miss much of its meaning, not to mention its melody. Details can give the motif, as well as the music, to any life” (p. 129).

Others have spoken of the value of being concerned with the details of life. The English Designer, William Morris (1834-1896), said, “The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”  And legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

Life Can Be Likened to a Sentence

In this lesson, Edman likens life to a sentence. He says, “A sentence is ‘a combination of words which is complete or expressing a thought, and in writing is usually marked at the close by a period; a sense unit comprising a subject and a predicate, especially one with both subject and finite verb expressed.’ Incidentally, that sentence is complicated and perhaps difficult to comprehend at first sight. How much like life it is! (p. 129).

“Life, like a sentence, should have its subject, expressed or implied. To have self as the center of one’s life sentence is to have narrow horizons, shallow objectives, unsatisfactory achievements, in brief, a life that is wasted (Mark 8:35)…. On the other hand, “The life with Christ as its grand subject is the life with wide horizons, worthy aims and entirely satisfactory accomplishment. It is the life defined by the Apostle Paul, ‘For to me to live is Christ’ (Phil. 1:21) (pp. 129-130).

“The details of a sentence have their significance in life. The Most High puts punctuation marks into our lives, to make them comprehensible and complete…. A comma indicates a slight change in the direction of the sentence, and an addition to its meaning or enlargement and enrichment to its description…. The semi-colon indicates a more abrupt and basic change in the direction of the sentence…. Parentheses are indicative of even deeper perplexity than that caused by the semicolon…. Then there is the period that brings the sentence to its completion. Of course the sentence can conclude with a question mark if life is essentially an interrogation rather than a statement of fact…. Also the sentence may end in an exclamation point, with its surprise and astonishment, but hardly with its success. Life should not be an incomplete sentence, whose completeness and disobedience will not escape the Master” (pp. 130-134).

There are as many kinds of sentences as there are lives.

As Edman concludes this lesson, he says, “The sentence may be simple, not necessarily short, but without complication; it may be compound, with two or more independent clauses; it may be complex, with modifications qualifying the main clause; it may be loose, complex and yet with its meaning appearing early; it may be periodic, also complex, but with its meaning not apparent until the last word or almost the last word has been reached; or it may be balanced, characterized by symmetry and evenness of flow. Whatever may be the structure of the life, however short or long it may be, wherever it may meander or keep to the beaten track, however many modifications may be made, however confusing it may seem for the time being, it should be meaningful and complete when the conclusion is reached at the period” (p. 134).

Conclusion

And finally, “Comma, semicolon or colon, parenthesis, modifiers, clauses independent and dependent, every detail of the sentence is designed for some purpose. We may be confused when God puts a comma in our life or sigh inconsolably at the semicolon; we may be utterly perplexed by the apparent irrelevancy of the parenthetical portions which seem to have no connection with the past nor place in the future; we may be muddled by modifies and be in consternation over some clause; but if our life is His handwriting, if for us ‘to live is Christ,’ then every detail can be a delight. The Lord of Life is the Schoolmaster of our life, to make its meaning clear” (pp 134 – 135).

Thanks for reading.

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 129 – 135)

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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #14 – Disease and Disillusionment

Introduction

As we continue our series on the disciplines that the Christian should incorporate into his character, we would like to take a look at our response when we encounter disease and disillusionment. As we have pointed out in previous articles in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “training that corrects molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

The Discipline of Disease

Sometimes we take our health for granted. We fail to be grateful, and then when disease strikes, we do not know how to handle it. But if we properly prepare, then when we come to the discipline of disease, we may face it with greater faith and strength that will sustain us. But even then, we may be perplexed, asking is this illness the result of my sin because ….

Sickness May Be the Result of One’s Own Sin

As a case in point, the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda was told by Jesus  “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you” (John 5:14). Also, we find that Miriam became leprous because she criticized Moses for marrying a Cushite woman (Numbers 12:1, 10). A third example from Scripture is Gehazi and his sin of deceit in receiving Naaman’s reward, that had already been declined my his master, Elisha (2Kings 5:27). The punishment for that deceit was spelled out by Elisha, “Because you have done this, you and your descendants will suffer from Naaman’s leprosy forever.” When Gehazi left the room, he was covered with leprosy; his skin was white as snow.”

Today we see this when one who has been an alcoholic most of his life, dies from liver disease. Or perhaps we know of those who have lived an immoral life and the die of aids, or some other sexually transmitted disease.

Not Necessarily, However Is Our Sickness the Result of Our Sin – It May Be “For the Glory of God”

Much injustice and grief has been caused “because of wrong judgment on the part of the friends or critics of the sick” (Edman, p. 191). The disciples were guilty of such improper judgment of the man born blind. When they asked Jesus, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” Jesus responded, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him” (John 9:2-3). Jesus’ dealings with Lazarus is another example. “But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea” (John 11:4-7).

The Sickness We Suffer May Be from the Enemy

Job’s suffering was hard for him to understand and sometimes it’s hard for us to understand God allowing him to be tried by Satan (Job 2:6). And Satan began immediately, and so intense was his suffering that even his 3 friends sat speechless. “So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot…. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words” Job 2:7, 13)

The Demon-Possessed Man in the region of the Gerasenes was troubled by many evil spirits taking over his body and forcing him to be “homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town” (Luke 8:26-39). The woman that Jesus encountered in the Synagogue on the Sabbath: “One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight” (Luke 13:20-11). Notice also His justification for healing her on the Sabbath, “But the Lord replied, ‘You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?’” (Luke 13:15-16)

And now let us turn our attention to …

The Discipline of Disillusionment (Luke 24:19-21)

The account in Luke 24 is interesting as it relates to our second point. Notice the disillusionment expressed by the words, “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.”

We Had No Assurance That the Results of Our Obedience Would be Happy – Nor Did the Disciples

“They had left fishing net and counting table, father and mother, household and goods to follow One Who had called with ineffable tenderness, Who spoke as none other with authority and yet with gentleness, Who fed the hungry and stilled the sea, Who announced a kingdom and its principles, Who provided for every need…. But now He was dead, dead, and buried, three days ago! Their Messiah, dead; of course they were disillusioned” (Edman, pp. 197-198).

And we were not promised that all would be perfect after becoming a Christian. Some have felt the personal experience of the possibility mentioned by Jesus when He said, “I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:35-36).

Disillusioned With Jesus. Perhaps we have even become disillusioned with Jesus. When we expected Him to be there for us, we did not feel His presence. He let us down. “It seemed that He had failed us, forsaken us forever. Our hears said mutely, ‘We trusted it had been He’” (Edman, p. 198)

Disillusioned With Others. We sometimes become disillusioned with others. We were attracted to form friendships with them because of their love, laughter, devotion, thoughtfulness. We found protection and comfort and peace in their presence. But then things changed. “Then came the forgetting, the failure, the forsaking….. Because they were human they were subject to frailty, even with the best of intentions; and because we are human, we suffered because of their failure. Without them life had neither meaning nor motivation, love nor laughter. We were disillusioned” (Edman, pp. 198-199)

The First Phase of Disillusionment. Edman says, “To face fully the fearful fact of utter loss is the first phase of the discipline of disillusionment” (p. 199).

Abraham learned this discipline on the slopes and summit of Moriah (Genesis 22:2)

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

Ruth learned it in the land of Moab (Ruth 1:16)

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.

The disciples learned it at the Mount called Calvary (Luke 24:19-21).

“We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel.”

The Second Phase of Disillusionment. Edman says, “To find that God’s hard word is not His last word, that ‘weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’ (Psalms 30:5) is the second phase of the discipline of disillusionment” (Edman, p. 200).

For Abraham on Moriah there was not only the restoration of Isaac, but also the promise (Genesis 22:16-18)

”Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants[a] beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

“For Ruth there was not only Boaz, little Obed, and a home in Bethlehem, but also beyond them, David and the Bethlehem Bab, the Saviour Himself after His humanity” (Edman, p.200).

“For the disciples there was not only the exposition of the Word on the way to Emmaus so that their hearts burned with them (Luke 24:27, 32), there was also the opening of their eyes to see in reality it was the Lord Himself that walked with them, and broke bread in their home” (Edman, p. 201).

 “And for us, in our despair and disillusionment, what provision does He make? Restoration of lost hope and love ones like Isaac, with larger promises and deeper acquaintance with Jehovah-jireh, the Lord Who provides; perhaps new blessings, undreamed in our night of sorrow, like Boaz and Obed and the Babe of Bethlehem; perhaps the burning of heart because His Word and the breaking of bread with day by day in life’s pilgrimage” (Edman, p. 201)

Conclusion

Disease is indeed a hard disciplinarian; and only those under its dominion can know the depths of its discipline. The frailty and futility of it all , the weariness and painfulness, the tears and testings, the long days and longer nights, can cast us into deep gloom, or the can cause us to know the word of the Lord, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2Corinthians 12:9) (Edman, p. 194).

Disillusionment, designed by the Most High for our good, leads to delight, indescribable and enduring. It is a searching discipline of the soul. It leads to sorrow, suffering, silence and solitude, to the apparently utter loss of the Cross; but beyond that Cross it leads to everlasting gain and good, in time and in eternity. Therefore, let us follow Him fearlessly, obediently, trustingly, until disillusionment is dissolved by delight” (Edman, p. 201).

Disease and Disillusionment … two important disciplines for the child of God to be prepared for, if and when the situation calls for.

Thanks for reading.

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 189 – 201)

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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #13 – Disdain

“Is not this the carpenter?” (Mark 6:3)

Introduction

As we continue our series on the disciplines that the Christian should incorporate into his character, we would like to take a look at our response when we encounter disdain from others. I believe there are some valuable lessons to be learned as we notice what Raymond V. Edman has to say about this discipline and how it is illustrated by David and by Jesus.

Edman says regarding the words of Mark 6:3, “These quiet and inconspicuous words do not convey the caustic and causeless criticism contained therein. It was in no complimentary sense that our Lord’s fellow countrymen spoke of their neighbor in Nazareth as ‘the carpenter’; rather it was in consummate and contemptuous disdain that they thus depicted Him. They knew Him as a carpenter; ‘From whence hath this man these things? And what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands (Mark 6:2) was their query. A carpenter, indeed! (Edman, p. 181)

As many of us might attest, “The discipline of disdain tries our mettle as do few searchings of the soul. We may be able to defy intrigue, to disregard innuendo, to deny insinuation; but we find it difficult to endure invective. We dislike to be despised. We cringe at contumely; we become quarrelsome when under contempt” (Edman, p. 181)

As we stated earlier, both David and Jesus “illustrate admirably the discipline of disdain. David met the test many times; and his reactions were not identical in each case. The differences may be accounted for by the occasion or the personalities involved, or possibly by the age at which he endured the discipline. Like him, we all face the cutting contempt that quickens the pulse and kindles the spirit, and by the same token creates the opportunity to show a quiet and Christlike calm (Edman, pp. 181-182).

Please consider with me the first example from the life of David …

David Defied the Disdain of the Giant (1st Samuel 17:41-46)

David had come from the solitude of the sheepfold, and from the struggle with the lion and the bear. He was an inconspicuous nobody, unknown and unheralded, with no reputation to maintain nor reward to gain. The text says, “Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy…” (vv. 41-42, NLT), and then he said, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with a stick? Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” (vv 43,44, NLT).

David replied to the ridicule with a statement of reliance upon God (v. 45). He had no fear because he knew God would enable him to defeat the giant! Edman says regarding David’s stand against the giant and what it teaches us, “Disregard for despising, disinclination to defend self, dependence upon divine aid, this is the discipline of disdain…. Out of disdain comes distinction to him that endures its discipline ” (Edman, p. 183)

Next, consider from the life of David …

David Nearly Succumbed to the Cynical Disdain of Nabal (1st Samuel 25:2-13)

The text describes the arrogance of Nabal, “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is?” (v. 10). Nabal compared him to a runaway slave. At this reception, David lost his temper became embittered and was about to send his army to attack Nabal (vv. 12-13). But God Met the Embittered David in the Person of Abigail (1st Samuel 25:23-31).

What are the lessons to be learned from this Bible account? “Would that we might remember in the fire of the injury and the fury of the insult that it is foolish to answer the fool according to his own folly. Therein we become ‘like unto him’ (Prov. 26:4).” The fool passes away, his foolishness fades, his sneers cease. By disregarding his disdain and doing our own duty we are masters of ourselves and mindful of tomorrow. David’s son could say, ‘He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that a city’ (Prov. 16:32). Yielding to disdain can destroy us; disdaining to yield can delight us” (Edman, p. 184).

And then a third example illustrating David response to the disdain of his own wife…

David Met the Disdain of Michal (2nd Samuel 6:20-23)

“He led them to Baalah of Judah to bring back the Ark of God… from Abinadab’s house (v2-3). After the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark and the Lord in his anger struck Uzzah so that he died, David decided not to move the Ark of the Lord into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. After 3 months, he retrieved the ark from the house of Obed-edom and, amongst much rejoicing and celebrating, he brought the ark to the City of David.

“Perhaps he was overly exuberant, unduly excited. Perhaps he needed some restraint in his rejoicing. A smile of approval would have pleased him, a word of kindness would have cautioned him, a note of gratitude to God would have gladdened his heart; instead there was the measured and miserable meanness of Michal’s mimicry,” (Edman p.185) “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!” (v. 20, NLT)

Nothing hurts like that which comes from one’s own family. David could have expected sympathy, assurance, expressions of love. Instead he was greeted with cynicism and sarcasm. And David, wounded in spirit, responded, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!” (vv.21-22).

As much as David was subjected to the disdain and responded in an honorable way, he did not hold a candle to the way our Lord was disdained and ridiculed and despised but responded in a way to leave us the perfect example. Consider that …

Jesus Knew, Above All Others, the Deep Discipline of Disdain

“He went everywhere doing good unto all, and in that ministry of mercy He came to His native village of Nazareth” (Mark 6:1-6)(Edman, p. 186). “There also He offered to be helpful with words of wisdom and healing touch. His efforts were ineffectual, for his hearers would non of Him; rather ‘they were offended at him’ (v. 3) (Edman, P. 186). “They summed up their scorn in the caustic query, ‘Is this not the carpenter? (v. 3). To them He was a carpenter, not the Christ; the son of Joseph, not Jesus the Lord. And who can measure the depth of wound caused by the contempt of countrymen and kinsfolk, the known and loved whom He would fain help? (Edman, p. 186).

“Disdain that damages or destroys – unless we determine to dominate our spirit, and to follow in the footsteps of the Saviour. He could reply with gentleness of spirit, ‘A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house’ (v. 4) (Edman, p. 187). “No censure nor sarcasm in return – only civility and sweetness. He did what good He was allowed by their antagonism, but no might deed (v.5)” (Edman, p. 187). “Their unbelief filled Him with astonishment; but He went onward (v.6). There were others to help, the hungry, the helpless, the heartsick in other villages” (Edman, p. 187)

Conclusion

“That is enduring the discipline of disdain: no harsh reply, no self-justification, no rendering evil for evil. Rather it is by gentleness, goodness, graciousness under provocation, that we prove ourselves true apprentices of the Master Carpenter” (Edman, p. 187).

Maybe you have been the object of someone’s disdain and ridicule and it has hurt you deeply. We definitely live in a time where much of that spirit is alive and well. I hope these thoughts might help you to respond appropriately if and when that happens.

Thanks for reading …

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 181 – 188)

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Disciplines of Life: Lesson #12 – Discontentment

“And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord” (Numbers 11:1)



Introduction
We continue our series on the Disciplines of Life by looking this month at the Discipline of Discontentment. As we have pointed out in previous articles in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “training that corrects molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

The Pilgrim’s Progress is   a religious allegory written by English author John Bunyan, and published in two parts in 1678 and 1684. The work is a symbolic vision of the good man’s pilgrimage through life. At one time second only to the Bible in popularity, The Pilgrim’s Progress is the most famous Christian allegory still in print. It was first published in the reign of Charles II and was largely written while its Puritan author was imprisoned for offenses against the Conventicle Act of 1593 (which prohibited the conducting of religious services outside the bailiwick of the Church of England). (Patricia Bauer, Assistant Editor, Encyclopedia Britannica) (https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Pilgrims-Progress)
 
V. Raymond Edman begins his chapter on discontentment by looking at an excerpt from this work by Bunyan. He says, “Bunyan paints a colorful portrait of contentment in his description of the shepherd boy in the Valley of Humiliation, ‘Now as they were going along and talking they espied a boy feeding his father’s sheep. The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a very fresh and well-favored countenance; and as he sat by himself he sang: ‘Hark,’ said Mr. Great-hart, ‘to what the shepherd’s boy saith.’ So they hearkened, and he said:
‘He that is down need fear no fall;
He that is low, no pride;
He that is humble, ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because Thou savest such.
Fullness to such a burden is,
That go on pilgrimage;
Here little, and hereafter bliss
Is best from age to age!’
 
‘Then said their guide, ‘Do you hear him? I will dare to say that this boy lives a merrier life, and wears more of that herb called heart’s-ease in his bosom, than he that is clad in silk and velvet.’”
 
“Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1st Timothy 6:6) is the divine commentary on this wholesome and healthful attitude of the soul. On the contrary, the danger of discontentment is written large in the Scriptures. Is it fair to infer that godliness without contentment can be great loss?”(pp. 173-174). There are many things in this world that might tend to create discontentment in us, especially in this time where we are so concerned about the COVID pandemic, political and social unrest, and the approaching election. Let’s take a look at some reasons why discontentment is a discipline that the Christian should monitor and control.  
 
Discontentment Disregards the Divine Presence Promised to the Lord’s Own.
 
Consider God’s relationship with Moses and the Children of Israel. He led them by a pillar of cloud during the day and by a pillar of fire at night (Ex. 13:21-22). He defended them with this same pillar (Ex. 14:19-20). He showed them where to pitch their tents & when they should journey (Num. 9:15-23). The Lord had made a strong promise to Moses (Ex. 33:12-23). Throughout the long wilderness journey, Moses “kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27, NLT). But the Children of Israel complained (Num. 11:1). They forgot God who had done great things in Egypt (Ps. 106:21).
 
Consider the promises made by Solomon in his Proverbs, to those who seek the wisdom of God:
“5Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. 9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil…” (Proverbs 2:5-12, NASB)
 
Consider what we find In New Testament times. Jesus promises to always be with us (Mt. 28:18-20).  Jesus promises to send His Spirit to the apostles (Jn. 14:15-17). When we consider all that Scripture has to say about how He is always with His people, discontentment disregards those statements of affirmation. As Edman concludes, “Sweet, wonderful, gracious Presence of the Lord! With us by His Spirit, whom we disregard when we are discontent!” (Edman, p. 175).
 
Discontentment Despises the Promises of God.
 
Moses reminds the Children of Israel that they had been led out of Egypt by the powerful hand of God to the land promised to their fathers.
 “3 Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by [c]a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten. 4 On this day in the month of Abib, you are about to go forth. 5 It shall be when the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall [d]observe this rite in this month” (Exodus 13:3-5).
 
But dissatisfaction gripped their spirit:
“Then they despised the pleasant land; They did not believe in His word, 25 But grumbled in their tents; They did not listen to the voice of the Lord” (Psalms 106:23-24).
 
Their memories selectively only remember the good parts of their time spent in
Egyptian bondage
“4 The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, 6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna” (Numbers 11:4-6).
 
We need to be careful, lest we express discontent during troubled times. We need to maintain a positive disposition and emulate the Apostle Paul’s attitude:
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).
 
Discontentment Discounts the Provision God Makes for Us.
 
Daily bread, received in the form of manna was initially much appreciated:
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction….  14 When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. 15 When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’” 17 The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. 18 When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat” (Exodus 16:4, 14-18).
 
But eventually they tired of the manna and greedily desired meat:
4 The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, 6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” (Numbers 11:4-6)
 
We must be careful lest our taste for the Word of God become less appealing to us as did the taste of the manna change from the taste of honey to the taste of fresh oil (Numbers 11:8).
 
Discontentment Displeases God (Numbers 11:1).
 
Though Scripture tells us that the Lord “delights in blessing his servant with peace” (Psalms 35:27) and that He “satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:9), it is possible to be a disappointment to God by not believing Him. For faith is a very important characteristic that He looks for in His children (Hebrews 11:6).
 
Of Israel it is said, 
“The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them. Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the Lord” (Psalms 106:24-25).
 
Unbelief among His own people in Nazareth caused Jesus to marvel and limited his opportunity to do mighty works in their presence!
“Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  And he was amazed at their unbelief” (Mark 6:4-6, NLT).
 
What about us? We have the Lord’s assurances of His presence, promises and provisions but do we displease Him by our lack of faith when we face a little inconvenience in our lives?
 
Discontentment May Be a Natural Part of Our Disposition, but Contentment Can Become a Major Characteristic of Our Christian Life.

The Apostle Paul serves as an excellent example, for he said,
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13, NLT).
 
“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content” (2Timothy 6:6-8).
 
Conclusion

“The discipline of discontentment is to turn from a complaining spirit, and the criticism that corrodes, from the dissatisfaction that displeases God, to a thankful attitude and a ‘merry heart that doeth good like medicine (Proverbs 17:22), to the faith and praise that bring pleasure to the heart of the Almighty” (Edman, p. 179)

The discipline of discontentment is to be “be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ 6 So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me’” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NLT).

(Adapted from: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 173-179)

Randy

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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #11 – Disappointment

“I had no relief for my spirit” (2nd Corinthians 2:13, R.V.)

Introduction

Disappointment is defined as “1. the act or fact of disappointing, 2. the state or feeling of being disappointed, 3. a person or thing that disappoints.” Disappoint is defined as “1.to fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of; 2. to defeat the fulfillment of (hopes, plans, etc.); thwart; frustrate (www.dictionary.com).

What does the Bible say about disappointment? If you look for the word in Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, or in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, you will not find it. You will find two instances of the word “disappoint,” and one instance of the word “disappointed.” They are:

  • “He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise” (Job 5:15, KJV)
  • “Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword: From men which are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes” (Psalm 17:13-14, KJV).
  • Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22)

V. Raymond Edman well describes the disappointment one can feel as he tries to live a godly life. He says, “Who has not experienced the depths of discouragement that come from the stinging defeat of eager expectation, the merciless blasting of high and happy hopes, the frustrations of fond dreams;  in a word, from disappointment, dark, deep, dismal? We had not planned the results in that way. We needed friends and helpers, whose word was true, whose cooperation was cheerful and constructive, and whose dependability was undoubted, but they failed us. We needed abundance of physical health to perform our tasks, and our strength was pitifully poor. We needed large resources to achieve a worthy goal, for the glory of God, and our resources were woefully inadequate. We needed encouragement and enthusiasm, and our only reward was caustic criticism or studied indifference. We believed human promises that proved to be puffs of wind; we experienced pain rather than gain. We were disappointed…. Disillusionment, despair, defeat and degrading self-pity do not meet nor mend disappointment.” (The Disciplines of Life, p. 159).

So what does help us to overcome such disappointments? Edman suggests five things and I would like for you to consider those with me, dear reader. I trust that this will help you, as you strive to add this as one of the disciplines with which you approach life, and as you grow in your service in the Kingdom.

Going Onward Does

The Apostle Paul is a great example of going on in spite of disappointments. In 2nd Corinthians 2:12-14 we read that Paul anticipated meeting Titus in Troas. But Titus did not show up. Scripture does not indicate whey he did not show. But it affected Paul! Paul says, “I had no rest for my spirit” (v. 13, NASB). How did he react to this disappointment? Well, Scripture tells us that Paul knew what his work was; he knew what goal he was out to achieve to further the work of the Kingdom of Christ. He says, “… taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia” (v. 13, NASB). He expresses his gratitude for the assurance that God “always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (v. 14, NASB).

Another great example is Job. He was in the midst of despair when he said, “My spirit is crushed, and my life is nearly snuffed out. The grave is ready to receive me. I am surrounded by mockers. I watch how bitterly they taunt me” (Job 17:1-2, NLT). The three friends, whom he called “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2, NLT) had not helped him. He also told them, “Your counsel is as helpful to me as a dry streambed in the heat of summer” (Job 6:18, AMP). In spite of this despair, he recognized an important truth that would help to pull him out  of his disillusionment, despair, defeat, and degrading self-pity, “the righteous shall move onward and forward; those with pure hearts shall become stronger and stronger. (Job 17:9, TLB)

Thankfulness Does

Another thing that will help one deal with disappointment is having a grateful heart that freely expresses thankfulness. “A thankful spirit remembers the many triumphs as well as the trials of our faith, the many promises in the Word as well as the many perils by the way” (Edman, p. 160).

The Apostle Paul was thankful under a wide variety of circumstances. He was thankful for food & shelter in the midst of a storm (Acts 27:35). He was thankful for faithful brethren in distant places (Romans 1:8; 1st Corinthians 1:4; Phil. 1:3). And above all, he was thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s indescribable gift (2nd Corinthians 9:15).

Because he was thankful, he could urge us to be thankful in all things (Colossians 3:15; Ephesians 5:20), especially in prayer (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2), as we make known our requests. “A heart that is thankful to God for His many mercies is conditioned by a sweetness of God’s spirit against the bitterness of human disappointment” (Edman, p.161).

Again, we have great examples in the Bible. David knew disappointment and discouragement. After arriving home from a three days journey, he finds that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and on Ziklag, they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone. David’s men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. Rather than allow this series of events to discourage him, Scripture tells us “But David found strength in the Lord his God,” and in this strength, David sought the Lord’s direction. Scripture tells us, “Then David asked the Lord, ‘Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?’ And the Lord told him, ‘Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!’ (1st Samuel 30:1-8).

Habakkuk is another good example. He “saw no outward prospect of prosperity, only utter desolation and disappointment, yet a thankful heart lifted him to high places of victory” (Edman, p. 161). As you read the words of Habakkuk, you find a man who, in the beginning questions God’s justice (Habakkuk 1:2-3), but in the end, he realizes that God is sovereign and that His justice is far beyond his comprehension. Habakkuk was sent by God with a message of judgment on Judah. Habakkuk expresses his changed attitude in the words of his prophecy, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT).

Assurance Does

Paul had learned that all things work together for good to them that love God (Rom. 8:28). He could say, “All deserted me … But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me (2Tim. 4:16-17). Paul could endure and take pleasure in his infirmities and weaknesses because he knew that God’s grace was sufficient for him (2Cor. 12:7-10). Paul had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself (Phil. 4:11-13).

“Do we know the assurance of trust that takes the sting out of disappointment and turns it rather to ‘His appointment’? Joseph could say, ‘It was not you that sent me hither but God’ (Gen. 45:8). The Most High had so sweetened Joseph’s spirit that he named his sons Manasseh (‘Forgetting’) and Ephraim (‘Fruitfulness’), for God made him to forget his disappointment and to be fruitful in the land of affliction (Gen. 41:51-52)” (Edman, pp. 162-163). Paul had been disappointed in John Mark, but later learned that ‘he is profitable to me for the ministry’ (2Tim. 4:11). The Lord Jesus was disappointed in Peter, but He prayed for him that he would turn again to be strength to the early Christians (Lk. 22:31-32)

“What would happen if in faith and love we prayed for those who had disappointed us? Would they not turn to the Saviour, would not our hearts be sweetened, and would not life become ‘a constant pageant of triumph in Christ?’ …Be assured of God’s promise, as was Paul, who could say, ‘the things which happened to me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). Try faith in God and in our fellows when we face disappointment” (Edman, p.163).

Going On Does

“Rather than sulk by life’s roadside, Paul went to the next place of service. There were many that needed his ministry of love, to whom his life, by the indwelling Saviour, could be the unspeakably sweet fragrance of Christ. Herein lies the real discipline of disappointment and despair, to rise up to help others, and to find in that the very attitude and act, that life is “a constant pageant of triumph in Christ” (Edman, p. 163)

“Ezekiel could rise out of the sorrow caused by his wife’s sudden death to bring the message of God to his people on the morrow (Ezekiel 24:18). Out of bitter disillusionment Hosea could say, “Then we shall know, if we follow on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3). Of the Lord Jesus, Isaiah prophesied, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged” (Isaiah 42:4). Tidings came to Him about the tragic death of His cousin, John the Baptist. Of course, His tender heart was torn; but there was no opportunity for leisure or solitude; because the multitudes needed Him. Out of the wound in His heart He fed and healed the needy, and thereby that wound was healed (Mark 6:29-44). Going on with God always helps and heals” (Edman, pp. 163-164). 

The “Afterward” Helps

“For every disappointment there is a delight, for every trial, a triumph; for every anguish, an ‘afterward.’ The Scriptures say explicitly: ‘Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby’ (Hebrews 12:11). God’s hard word is never His last word. The difficulty is not defeat. The failure of another is not necessarily a finality. The disappointment need not be disillusionment” (Edman, p. 164)

Yes, Paul was disappointed that Titus did not show at Troas. But, as it turned out, Paul had even greater need for his help and encouragement in Macedonia and was able to report, “God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2nd Corinthians7:5-6).

Conclusion

“There is the discipline of disappointment that would destroy us, unless we cause it to lift us into a new sphere of usefulness and devotion. Turn from the pain, and find the gain of thankfulness and assurance that will make of your life ‘a constant pageant of triumph in Christ.’ Out of heartache there will be healing for you and for others” (Edman, p.165).

Disappointment. It’s something that we all, no doubt, will experience in this earthly life. But if we view it as a discipline to be worked through, as “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character,” we may benefit from it.

Thanks for reading!

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 159 -165)

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The Disciplines of Life – Lesson #10: Desperation and Difficulty

This is the tenth lesson in our series, The Disciplines of Life. We have studied: Solitude; Discipleship; Dependability & Determination; Discernment, Decision & Duty; Declining Days, Deformity, & Disability; Danger, Daring and Darkness; Defamation and Defense; and Delight and Desire thus far. There are many disciplines that should be evident in the life of the Christian. In this lesson we want to look at the Disciplines of Desperation and Difficulty.

As we have been emphasizing in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360). We have been using, as an anchor for this series, a book by V. Raymond Edman published in 1948 titled The Disciplines of Life. Although Mr. Edman was associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, many of the things he has written resonate with me. Mr. Edman appears to have had a love for alliteration, as all thirty-0ne of the disciplines he wrote about begin with the letter “D.” Another source that I have used for this series that is not so “contrived” is the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines edited by Warren Berkley and Jon Quin and published by Expository Files.

Desperation

Life can be tough. Even as Christians, we may sometimes find ourselves in circumstances that cause us to despair. Or as Edman describes it, “We cannot strive nor struggle, flee nor even faint; we can only cry unto God” (Edman, p. 121).

Consider the following examples …

Peter

In Matthew 14:30, Peter cried, “Lord, save me.” As we look at the context of that plea of desperation by the apostle, we remember that he had been enjoying the safety of the boat, when his impetuosity caused him to step out of it onto the water and begin walking to Jesus.  “But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. ‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said. ‘Why did you doubt me?’

“We may not approve his impetuosity nor his human impertinence in attempting to walk on the sea; but we must admire his implicit obedience and his deep devotion to his Lord” (Edman, p. 122).

The Disciples

Mark tells of another night when the disciples were with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee:

35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” 39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41, NLT).

“That terrible thought, ‘Carest thou not?’ had been forming in their minds as the wind and wave rose higher, and the ship began to founder. Darkness of night, danger of storm, depths of the sea with death all about them, then in desperation the disciples gave vent to their pent-up fears, ‘Carest thou not that we perish?’” (Edman, p. 123).

We can experience those same kinds of feelings. We sing a song that asks “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song, As the burdens press, and the cares distress, And the way grows weary and long? Does Jesus care when my way is dark With a nameless dread and fear? As the day-light fades into deep night shades, Does He care enough to be near? Does Jesus care when I’ve said ‘good-bye’ To the dearest on earth to me, And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks Is it aught to Him? Does He see?” The resounding response of the chorus is, “O yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief; when the days are weary, the long night dreary, I know my Savior cares” (Does Jesus Care, WORDS: Frank E. Graeff, 1901).

In writing about this song, Robert J. Morgan says, “In his book, Lectures to My Students, Charles Haddon Spurgeon devoted a chapter to ‘The Minister’s Fainting Fits,’ warning his students of the dangers of discouragement and depression in the ministry. The chapter begins, ‘Fits of depression come over the most of us … The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.” He goes on to explain that, “A series of heartbreaks shattered his spirits, and Frank Graeff found himself in the unfamiliar valley of deep depress and despondency…. The truth of 1Peter 5:7 suddenly too hold of him ‘… casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Out of that experience, Frank wrote ‘Does  Jesus Care?’ with its series of commonly asked questions, followed by this resounding reply: O yes, He cares …” (Then Sings My Soul, p. 253).

The Tax Collector

Luke recounts the story of the Tax Collector

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14, NLT).

“If he had been so minded, like many of his day and ours, he could have blamed his sinful condition upon his family background, his heritage, environment, circumstances, evil companion. He really never had a chance: a poor home, no education, the pitiless strife of the street, ward politics, the dishonest and trickery of tax-gathering. Of course respectable people like yonder Pharisee despised him; he despised himself. Not only did he not blame his unhappy and unfortunate fate, he also laid no claim to any merit in God’s sight, no prayers, no fasting, no tithing, nothing of the Law. He was just a miserable, lost sinner, an ‘extortioner, unjust’ (v.11). He could only blame himself, and pray, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner’ (v.13). And God had mercy upon him, instantly, completely; so that ‘this man went down to his home justified’ (v.14)” (Edman, p.125).

David

David testified:

When I refused to confess my sin,
    my body wasted away,
    and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
    My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
    and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
    And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude

(Psalm 32:3-5, NLT)

We need to have this same attitude when we sin. We must not bury ourselves in denial. We must not try to run away from responsibility and accountability. We must not seek to transfer blame to others. Let us duplicate the attitude expressed by David in another of his psalms.

From the depths of despair, O Lord,
    I call for your help.
Hear my cry, O Lord.
    Pay attention to my prayer.

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
    who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
    that we might learn to fear you.

I am counting on the Lord;
    yes, I am counting on him.
    I have put my hope in his word.
I long for the Lord
    more than sentries long for the dawn,
    yes, more than sentries long for the dawn. (Psalm 130:1-6, NLT)

George Matheson 

Erdman quotes George Matheson, Thoughts for Life’s Journey (pp. 266-267) to further illustrate this discipline of despair, “My soul, reject not the place of thy prostration! It has ever been the robing room for royalty. Ask the great ones of the past what has been the spot of their prosperity; they will say, ‘It was the cold ground on which I once was lying.’ Ask Abraham; he will point you to the sacrifice of Moriah. Ask Joseph; he will direct you to his dungeon. Ask Moses; he will date his fortune from his danger in the Nile. Ask Ruth; she will bid you build her monument in the field of her toil. Ask David; he will tell you that his songs came from the night. Ask Job; he will remind you that God answered him out of the whirlwind. Ask Peter; he will extol his submission in the sea. Ask John; he will give the palm to Patmos. Ask Paul; he will attribute his inspiration to the light that struck him blind. Ask one more – the Son of Man. Ask Him whence has come His rule over the world. He will answer, ‘From the cold ground on which I was lying – the Gethsemane ground; I received my scepter there.’ Thou too, my soul, shalt be garlanded by Gethsemane. The cup thou fain wouldst pass from thee will be thy coronet in the sweet by-and-by. The hour of thy loneliness will crown thee. The day of thy depression will regale thee. It is thy desert that will break forth into singing; it is the trees of thy silent forest that will clasp their hands” (Edman, pp.126-127).

Disciplined by desperation, we come to depend upon our God! Our Almighty God will deliver us! As we sing, “What A Mighty God We Serve!” “Our God is an awesome God!”

Difficulty

William H. Prescott

Edman relates the difficulties of William H. Prescott as he attempted to write his historical accounts, The Conquest of Peru and its companion, The Conquest of Mexico. Prescott first received an injury to one of his eyes, and then the other became inflamed making it debilitated for the rest of his life. He made up for his lost sight, by procuring the services of a secretary who read to him the resource material that he needed for his writing. He then used a writing-case to commit his thoughts to paper without the aid of sight.

“This is the discipline of difficult, understood and overcome only by the indomitable in heart. Only the undaunted, despite aching head and failing sight, could say that others could be in deeper difficulty than they. Lesser souls would be swallowed up in their own sickness, sorrows and silence” (Edman, pp145-146).

John Milton

John Milton became totally blind at the age of forty-four and was forced to give up public service. But he did not give up nor cease to actively pursue his passion. During this time, he brought forth his immortal masterpieces, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes.

Moses

“Moses had the handicap of age before he began his lifework. At forty, when life allegedly begins, he went into exile, to spend his days as an obscure shepherd of the desert. He endured the adjustments made necessary by the shifting from Pharaoh’s majestic court to a Midian sheepfold, with its solitude, silence and apparent uselessness. At eighty, when most men have retired from active service, he was called at the burning bush to become the Deliverer of his people. With reasons, he could object to this calling, saying ‘Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ (Exodus 3:11).” (Edman, pp, 146-147).

Mordecai

“Mordecai knew the humanly hopeless handicap of racial prejudice. He was a Jew in a strange land, and knew by experience the bitterness of unbridled racial bigotry. He had to warn his niece, Esther, not to reveal her nationality (Esther 2:20). Haman’s wrath knew no bounds when he was told that Mordecai was a Jew (3:4); with the result that he ‘sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai’ (3:6). The plot proceeded temporarily without hindrance, to the pleasure of Haman; while Mordecai was overcome with fear and grief (4:1-3). Only the soul that has felt the heel of the oppressor and the fury of the sadist can sense the sorrow that was Mordecai’s” (Edman, pp. 147-148)

Matthew

As a tax-collector, Matthew was familiar with social prejudice. Palestinians of his day viewed him as a traitor, as selling himself to be a servant of the hated Romans. They classed the publicans with the lowest of the population: the sinners. Matthew, however, was not overcome with social stigma. He responded immediately to the Lord’s call, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9).

“Herein lies the discipline of difficulty: to recognize one’s limitation and handicaps; nevertheless, to rise up and do the impossible in spite of them. To yield to discouragement and difficulty is to be defeated. The handicap, I repeat, can be physical, racial, social, personal in any way; yet the soul that will rise up and follow the Saviour will know life that climbs with Bunyan’s Pilgrim the Hill Difficulty, to find on its summit the Palace Beautiful, whose windows face the sun-rising. Our discipline is to keep on climbing when sight is dim and strength is debilitated, when friends fail and foes are fierce, when handicaps hinder and hardships harry. God has use for the heart that no difficulties can deter!” (Edman, p. 149).

(Source: The Disciplines of Life, pp. 121-127, 143-149)

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The Disciplines of Life – Lesson #9: Delight and Desire

This is the ninth lesson in our series, The Disciplines of Life. We have studied: Solitude; Discipleship; Dependability & Determination; Discernment, Decision & Duty; Declining Days, Deformity, & Disability; and Danger, Daring and Darkness, and Defamation and Defense thus far. There are many disciplines that should be evident in the life of the Christian. In this lesson we want to look at the Disciplines of Delight and Desire.

As we have been emphasizing in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360). We have been using, as an anchor for this series, a book by V. Raymond Edman published in 1948 titled The Disciplines of Life. Although Mr. Edman was associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, many of the things he has written resonate with me. Mr. Edman appears to have had a love for alliteration, as all thirty-0ne of the disciplines he wrote about begin with the letter “D.” Another source that I have used for this series that is not so “contrived” is the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines edited by Warren Berkley and Jon Quin and published by Expository Files.

Delight

“I Know how to abound” (Philippians 4:12)

What is “Delight”?

Dictionary.com defines it as “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture.” It was used in much the same way in New Testament times as is reflected in W. E. Vine’s definition: “Lit., “to rejoice with (anyone). To delight in (a thing) with (others),” signifies “to delight with oneself inwardly in a thing,” in Rom. 7:22”

“Delight is an affection of the ‘inmost heart’ (cf. Ps. 40:8). It signifies that in which one finds pleasure, i.e., the object of one’s love. In Prov. 5:19 the piel form of the verb rawa (lit. ‘drink one’s fill’) is used to denote being saturated with sensual pleasure.

Why is Delight a Life Discipline that We Should Develop?

As the term is used by Erdman, it describes a way of life that does not despise others, thinking that they get all the good things in life while we do not. “They seem to have abundance of resources, and all that goes with money, clothes, car, companions, ease and education, while we plod along, quite penniless; theirs, abundance of good looks, while we carry weary body and aching hear. The have prosperity and prominence, poise and position, friends and favor, family and affection, home and hospitality in the words of the Psalmist, ‘They have more than hear could wish (Ps. 73:7).” (Erdman, p.85)

The Discipline of Delight will humble us to appreciate what we have. The Discipline of Delight move us away from “score-keeping,” comparing what we have with what others have. The career of Moses illustrates wonderfully this Discipline of Delight.

How Did the Career of Moses Illustrate the Discipline of Delight?

By the world’s standard he had everything a person might want, but he gave it all away to serve God. From boyhood, Moses’ parents “saw that God had given them an unusual child.” (Heb. 11:23, NLT). Elsewhere in Scripture Moses is described as “lovely” (Acts 7:20, NASB), and “special” (Ex. 2:20, NLT)

He did not allow “pride of place,” as “the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (Heb. 11:24; Ex. 2:10; Acts 7:21) to ruin his compassion. Moses did not lord his royalty over his lowly fellows, but rather “he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work” (Ex. 2:11, NLT)

He did not allow his learning to puff up his estimation of himself in relation to his brethren.  “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22, NKJV)

He did not allow his achievements to turn him into a prideful, impatient, overbearing man. He was “mighty in words and deeds,” and his leadership of the unruly children of Israel in the wilderness revealed the organization and discipline that came from military training.

We Must Discipline Ourselves to Be Useful to God and Our Fellow Man

“Moses points out the pathway to that service. Rather than delight in himself and his distinctions, he concerned himself with the difficulties of others (Acts 7:23). Unselfish interest in the welfare of others makes us unconcerned about any natural gifts and graces we may have. We forget ourselves in helping others; and others are then conscious, not of our person and position, but rather of the Christ who dwells in our hearts” (Erdman, p. 88).

“Choosing to suffer affliction for others becomes a genuine delight to us” (Heb. 11:25). “We identify ourselves with a Cause that is humanly unpopular, but which has the approval of Heaven. We renounce our rights in order to be on the right side; and a title to which we are entitled (as “the son of Pharaoh’s daughter belonged to Moses) becomes a mere trifle, if only we be known as “the sons of God. We depend not upon our knowledge nor ability; rather we also ‘endure as seeing him who is invisible.’ (Heb. 11:27)

“There is satisfaction in serving the Lord Jesus; sweetness in suffering for His Name; blessing in bearing His reproach; pleasure in becoming a pilgrim; delight in doing his bidding…. To have every natural delight… is to need the discipline of delight, that every gift be acknowledged as from the Giver, that every talent become a sacred trust, that every honor become a humbling of heart  before Him, in order that He have all the Glory. Then, like Moses of old, with lowly heart and veiled face, we shall walk where He leads…. Then comes to pass the word, ‘Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart’ (Ps. 37:4) (Erdman, p.89).   

II. Desire

“For even Christ pleased not himself” (Romans 15:3)

What is Desire?

Dictionary.com defines it as, “a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment; an expressed wish; request” The Encyclopedia of the Bible says, “There are over nine different Heb. words which can be tr. into Eng. as ‘desire’ as well as about the same number of Gr. words…. Some of the words which are used are אַוָּה, H205, חֶמְדָּה, H2775, חֵ֫פֶץ, H2914, חֵ֫שֶׁק, H3139, מַחְמָד, H4718, מִשְׁאָלָה, H5399, נֶ֫פֶשׁ, H5883, רָצﯴן, H8356, תַּאֲוָה֒, H9294, תְּשׁוּקָה, H9592; θέλειν; θέλημα, G2525; θεμησις; ἐπιθυμία, G2123; αἰτέω, G160; ἐρωτἀω. Practically the whole spectrum of underlying psychological meanings are covered by the wide range of the above Heb. and Gr. words. This clearly shows how important a characteristic it is esp. as far as Scripture is concerned.” (https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/encyclopedia-of-the-bible/Desire)

Why is Desire a Life Discipline that We Should Develop?

As Erdman examines the Discipline of Desire, he asks, “as a Christian, what criteria of Christian conduct should be mine?” He rightly concludes that the Scriptures distinguish between various types of conduct. 1) Some matters are clearly required and 2) other matters are clearly prohibited, i.e. things that we must avoid. Then there is a third category, he says, “In between, there is a wide area of border-line cases; matters intrinsically innocent in themselves, but good or evil according to principles found in the Word of God. For those border-line cases the Scriptures give us basic principles of conduct, rather than precepts (Rom. 12-14; 1Cor. 8, and elsewhere); and we should catch the spirit as well as the letter of the Word to apply to our conduct” (Erdman, p. 102)

Erdman then proceeds to outline the following principles as “criteria of Christian conduct”:

1. There should be no conformity to the world (Rom. 12:1, 2; 1Jn. 2:15-17).

Erdman quotes from John Wesley to give a “working definition” of the world, “Whatever cools my affection toward Christ is the world.” Have you ever thought about it in those terms? What cools your affection towards Christ? What causes your desire to be for other things so that you don’t “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable” (Phil. 4:8, NLT)?

2. There should be no condemnatory attitude on our part (Rom. 14:1-3, 14-21).

In matters of opinion we definitely should show open-mindedness and appreciation for the opinion of others. An attitude that shows disrespect for a fellow human being is not of God. Do your desires cause you to run rough-shod over the opinions of others or do you have the humble attitude expressed by Paul, “14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. 20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble” Rom 14:14-21, NLT).

3. We are to have our own convictions, based upon the Word of God (Rom. 14:1-9).

As Paul discusses the principles he lays out for the Corinthians, he makes application to two issues that were problems in his day. The first was eating of meats offered to idols and the second was observing of certain days. Please consider what one writer has said about these issues of the first century, “Under Judaism certain meats were forbidden (Lev. 11:) These were legal restrictions, not due to the nature of the animal (Gen. 9:1-4). But Christ fulfilled the typology of Judaism, and these restrictions were removed (Acts 10:10-16; 1Tim. 4:4. Again, meat that had been offer unto idols was sold in the markets, and was per se (of itself) unrestricted (1Cor. 8:1-8). To those with understanding, there was no wrong done in eating these meats. Under Judaism certain days were declared ‘holy’ (Lev. 23 :).These days were ‘set apart’ for Jews, and given significance by God’s decree, not for anything inherent in the day itself. They were a ‘shadow’… but the body is of Christ’ (Col. 2:16-17). The shadow had fulfilled its purpose with the coming of the New Covenant; hence, ‘day observance,’ per se, had lost its significance.” (Reading Romans, “When Saints Differ on Nonessentials,” Robert F. Turner, p.101)

In light of this, Paul emphasizes, “In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable” (Rom. 14:5). “i.e., act with conviction, do whatever he does because he believes this is to the glory and service of God” (Turner, p. 102).

4. We are to be considerate one of another (Rom. 14:10-13).

“13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall (Rom. 14:13, NLT). I like Warren Wiersbe’s comments on this passage. He says, “Note the possible ways we can affect each other. We can cause others to stumble, grieve other or even destroy others. Paul was speaking of the way the strong Christian affected the weak Christian… The strong Christian has spiritual knowledge, but if he does not practice love, his knowledge will hurt the weak Christian. Knowledge must be balanced by love. Often little children are afraid of the dark and think there is something hiding in the closet, Of course, Mother knows that the child is safe; but her knowledge alone cannot assure or comfort the child. You can never argue a child into losing fear. When the mother sits at the bedside, talks lovingly to the child, and assures him that everything is secure, then the child can go to sleep without fear. Knowledge plus love helps the weak person grow strong” (Be Right, Warren Wiersbe, pp. 157-158).

5. We should be consistent in our practice (Rom. 14:14-17).

“Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil” (Rom. 14:16, NASB). Wiersbe said it well, “Not the externals, but the eternals must be first in our lives; righteousness, peace, and joy. Where do they come from? The Holy Spirit of God at work in our lives (see Rom. 5:1-2)” (Ibid)

Erdman gives an example from the life of Rodney “Gipsy” Smith who was a British evangelist who conducted evangelistic campaigns in the United States and Great Britain for over 70 years. He was an early member of The Salvation Army and a contemporary of Fanny Crosby and acquaintance of G. Campbell Morgan and H. A. Ironside” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_%22Gipsy%22_Smith). He says, “More than once I heard the late Gypsy Smith relate the story of his father’s conversion. He heard the message of salvation, and with penitence received the Saviour as his own. That evening he returned to his motherless children in the gypsy wagon, and related to them all he knew of the Saviour and of the Scriptures. Then he prayed with them, setting up a family altar the first night of his new life in Christ. The following morning he repeated the whole matter again. Then he went back to town, and took with him the dearest treasure of a gypsy’s heart, his violin. On returning home that night he was without it, for he had sold it. He had sufficient spiritual insight, the first day of salvation, to realize that the old association of drinking and dancing places, where he had used his violin, would be inconsistent with his stand for Christ, and detrimental to his own conscience. We are glad for those whose background allows them to play the violin for God’s glory; but whatever is inconsistent to us and to others must be abandoned” (Erdman, p. 105).

6. Our conduct should be constructive (Rom. 14:18-19)

“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19). “Do my words, actions, standards, make for peace, to establish others in the truth of the gospel; or do I live to myself, unconcerned about the blessing promised to the peacemakers (Mt. 5:9) or about building strong Christian character and conviction in those that are as yet weaker in the faith?” (Erdman, p. 106).

7. We should be careful of conscience in what we allow in Christian conduct (Rom. 14:20-23).

“Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right” (Rom. 14:22, NLT). “We have to live with our own conscience to be under self-condemnation as well as under the conviction of the Spirit when our deeds are doubtful to ourselves; and on the other hand, we can have the happiness of a good conscience. We are to bear in mind also, however, the conscience of others in that which we allow. ‘But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ.’ (1Cor. 8:9-12, NLT).  Strong and searching words, that should give us a tender and thoughtful conscience, with conviction that ‘Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.’ (v.13, KJV). High standard? Yes, high, but also holy and helpful; with the conscience of a weaker Christian as my criterion” (Erdman, pp. 107-108).

8. Our conduct should be Christ-like (Rom. 15:1-7).

“We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself” (Rom. 15:2-3, NLT). “The final criterion is the capstone of them all… Is the welfare and well-being of others a first consideration with us, as it was with Him? Can we deny ourselves that we might please others (v.1)? Is any sacrifice on our part in the least commensurate with His sacrifice for us? He has been patient with us, and desires that we be ‘likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus’ (v 5.). Do our words and our deeds, our attitudes and our acts, show forth Christ to others, especially to the weak in the faith? Are we Christ-like in our concern for them?”

Conclusion

Two more Disciplines of Life, I suggest as worthy of development in the life of the Christian: Delight and Desire. Delight is a way of life that does not despise others, thinking that they get all the good things in life while we do not. It is an attitude that says, “I am appreciative for what I have and I will not waste my time trying to keep score of what I have compared to others. The Discipline of Desire will cause me to apply the principles of Christian conduct to my actions, in the light of another’s conscience.

(Source: The Disciplines of Life, V. Raymond Edmond, pp. 85-89, 101-111)

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The Disciplines of Life – Lesson #8: Defamation and Defense

This is the eighth lesson in our series, The Disciplines of Life. We have studied: Solitude; Discipleship; Dependability & Determination; Discernment, Decision & Duty; Declining Days, Deformity, & Disability; and Danger, Daring and Darkness thus far. There are many disciplines that should be evident in the life of the Christian. In this lesson we want to look at the Disciplines of Defamation and Defense.

As we have been emphasizing in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360). We have been using, as an anchor for this series, a book by V. Raymond Edman published in 1948 titled The Disciplines of Life. Although Mr. Edman was associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, many of the things he has written resonate with me. Mr. Edman appears to have had a love for alliteration, as all thirty-0ne of the the disciplines he wrote about begin with the letter “D.” Another source that I have used for this series that is not so “contrived” is the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines edited by Warren Berkley and Jon Quin and published by Expository Files.

Defamation (2nd Samuel 16:5-14)

Defamation is defined as “the act of defaming; false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel; calumny” (www.dictionary.com).

Edman reminds us of the admonition of Scripture, “For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps” (1st Pet. 2:19-23, NLT). He then says, “This is a deep discipline of the soul, this evidence of our true sonship with God, as described by our Lord Jesus Christ… ”But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Mt. 5:44-45, NLT).

David’s conduct before Shimei excellently illustrates the discipline endured by those who are defamed.

The situation: David is old; he’s been driven from his capital, caused by his rebellious son Absalom. Scripture describes Shimei’s stinging insults and David’s response (2nd Samuel 16:5-14, NLT).

Shimei said, “Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord is paying you back for all the bloodshed in Saul’s clan. You stole his throne, and now the Lord has given it to your son Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, for you are a murderer!”

David’s response, “My own son is trying to kill me. Doesn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it. And perhaps the Lord will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses today.”

This is an often repeated theme in David’s Psalms:

“Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth! Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts…. The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do” (12:1, 2, 5, NLT).

“Malicious witnesses testify against me. They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about. They repay me evil for good. I am sick with despair. Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them. I denied myself by fasting for them, but my prayers returned unanswered. I was sad, as though they were my friends or family,    as if I were grieving for my own mother. But they are glad now that I am in trouble; they gleefully join together against me. I am attacked by people I don’t even know; they slander me constantly” (35:11-15, NLT).

“I said to myself, “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me” (39:1, NLT).

“I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them!” (37:35-36, NLT)

“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues. Praise the Lord, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack” (31:19-21, NLT)

“O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain” (3:1-4, NLT).

Others demonstrated this discipline as well – the soft answer “that turns away wrath” (Prov. 15:1)

Moses was the object of criticism, not only from the Israelites in General, but even from his own brother and sister. “While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the Lord heard them. (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)” (Num. 12: 1-3). “One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. They incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly. They united against Moses and Aaron and said, “You have gone too far! The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the Lord, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the Lord’s people?” Num 16:1-3, NLT)

The humble response of Moses is described, “When Moses heard what they were saying, he fell face down on the ground. 5 Then he said to Korah and his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show us who belongs to him and who is holy. The Lord will allow only those whom he selects to enter his own presence. Korah, you and all your followers must prepare your incense burners. Light fires in them tomorrow, and burn incense before the Lord. Then we will see whom the Lord chooses as his holy one. You Levites are the ones who have gone too far!” (Num. 16:4-7, NLT).

Jesus was above all men spoken against falsely. In return for the miracles and healings He performed, He was repaid with the anger and envy of political leaders who sought to kill Him. One such example is that is recorded says,  “Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus. (Mk. 3:1-6, NLT)

Mark also records, “One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house. “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.” (Mark 3:20-30, NLT).

Many other examples could be cited (Mk. 6:3; 14:45, 61; 15:3, 5; Isa. 42:2, 3; 53:7; Mt. 5:11-12) but suffice it to say that Jesus was without question the greatest sufferer and the most prolific example of the discipline of Defamation.

Paul described some of the things that he faced, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (2Cor. 4:8-9). When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside” (2Cor. 7:5).

“If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap    burning coals of shame on their heads.”Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (Rom. 12:7-21).

Defense (1Sam. 22:8)

“And there is none of you that is sorry for me.” “These are the words of a king! Who would have thought it could be so? A sovereign stooping to self-pity, a monarch making himself miserable and mean, a crown that cries like a spoiled child! But that is what the story tells, with penetrating insight and illumination into the character of Saul, first king of Israel” (Edman, p. 63).

Selfishness and self-pity were not conspicuous in Saul’s character at the outset his royal career, but he would soon develop a character dominated by those attributes.

At the outset of his royal career he seemed to have commendable characteristics: He came from a good family (1Sam. 9:1). He was a dutiful son (1Sam. 9:2). He was tall, handsome, competent, cooperative, and had qualifications to be over God’s people (1Sam. 9:16). He was humble and unassuming (1Sam. 10:14-16). He shrunk back from being king (1Sam. 10:22). He held his peace when criticized (1Sam. 10:26).

When time came “to reveal his qualities of leadership, he was not inadequate” (1Sam. 11:4-11). He showed that he could be magnanimous; for when his soldiers wanted to cut off his erstwhile critics, Saul could say with generosity, “There shall not be a man be put to death this day… (1Sam. 11:13)

But flaws began to appear in his personality & character: He seemed to lack a sense of the spiritual despite his home training. He became self-willed, impulsive, and imperious (“domineering in a haughty manner”-dictionary.com). He presumed the prerogatives of the priest by offering  the sacrifice (1Sam. 13:13-14)

He “seemed to lack a sense of fitness in things human as well as divine” (Erdman, p.65). He denied his men food when a great victory was in the making (1Sm. 13:15-23; 14:24). Even his son Jonathan said he “troubled the land” (1Sam. 14:29-30).

The test came years later when he was to destroy the Amalekites (1Sam. 15:1-3) but his obedience was only partial (1Sam. 15:9). The Lord was sorry he had set up Saul to be king (1Sam. 15:11). When confronted, he made excuses (1Sam. 15:20, 21) as he had done earlier (1Sam. 13:11-12).

Erdman says about this discipline:

“This is the discipline of defense. As long as a man is on the aggressive, alert to his liabilities and limitations, active in his service for God and man, he can be courageous, generous, altruistic, large-spirited; but when he allows himself to get on the defensive: defending his position, policies, procedure, personality, program, then he tends to become timid, selfish, self-centered and small. He has lost the magnanimity that can minimize insults and injuries. He forgets the wholesomeness and soul-health necessary for his own soul. As indicated in a prayer of Phillips Brooks, ‘Let me not lose faith in my fellow men. Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery or meanness. Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them.’

“Self-centeredness makes a man soft, sensitive, selfish. Self-pity makes him pitiable, a picture of pathos when he should be a power for good. Self-importance makes him unimpressive, important in his own eyes but impossible to others. Conceit makes him contemptible. Bitterness of spirit over the success of others makes him blind to his own shortcomings. Envy makes him unenviable. Petulance makes him picayunish. Self-pampering makes him sarcastic. Self-indulgence makes him indolent. Self-defense destroys his self-respect, and makes him less a man.”

“This I say is the discipline of defense. To whimper is to be a weakling to complain is to be a coward; to blame others is to be a baby; to pity self is to be pitiful; to yell is to be ‘yellow,’ which term of contempt contains the whole concept of the unworthy and worthless.”

“The discipline of defense demands that we destroy self-centeredness, self-pity, self-importance, self-indulgence, self-defense of any kind. If others are honored, congratulate them (1Cor 12:26); if you are neglected, forget it. If the job is too big for you, admit it to yourself and to others and step aside graciously; you will be a bigger and better man for it. If others can do the job better than you, let them do it with your ‘God bless you!’ Let no dog-in-the-manger attitude make you snappy, showing teeth and temper rather than kindness and courtesy; in other words, be a Christian rather than a cur!”

“The discipline of defense is to ‘to be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love in honor preferring one another … not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith … (to) bless them which persecute you; (to) bless and curse not’ (Rom. 12:10,3,14).” It is further defined and described in Phil. 2:3,14,15. “It is to do your duty and to do good unto others.”

“To defend yourself is to descend to the despicable, the degrading, the destructive; to deny yourself is to ascend to the worth-while, the wholesome and the helpful” (Erdman, pp.66-68).  

Conclusion:

This article has dealt with a positive discipline that we should seek to develop and a negative that we should be on guard against.

The positive, Defamation, that is doing good and living for God, no matter the consequences that may come to you as a result, is a discipline to be developed.

The negative, Defense that is allowing yourself to get on the defensive: defending your position, policies, procedure, personality, program, tending to become selfish, self-centered and small. You have lost the magnanimity that can minimize insults and injuries. This is a discipline that would cause us to guard against the invasion of flaws of personality and character like those that developed in Saul.

(Source: The Disciplines of Life, V. Raymond Edmond, pp. 55-70)