The Pragmatic Christian
A very dear friend of mine told me about an encounter he had many years ago. He was running an errand one day at a large retail store when he overheard what appeared to be a husband and wife arguing with one another. It was difficult not to notice as the argument grew in intensity and hateful words. He sensed in his spirit, perhaps being prompted within by the Holy Spirit, that he ought to speak to them and offer to help. Being a pastor he was wise and experienced in marital counseling. But since they did not know him from Adam, he passed the moment by, bought what he had come to get, and proceeded to his car in the parking lot, wrestling in his mind if he had done the right thing to not try and intervene. As he unlocked his car and began to get in the sense that he should return filled his spirit. Retracing his steps he looked for the couple in the same part of the store and located the woman, now by herself and in tears. Approaching her he introduced himself, gave her his card, said he had overheard the argument, and offered to help. The woman looked up at him and responded, “Bug off!
I imagine you expected to hear a success story, especially when a believer senses the compulsion of the Holy Spirit and obeys. Indeed, we expect to see success when we believe the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, and though somewhat hesitant, we finally do it. If we get a different result than we expect, we probably think, “Well, that didn’t work; I’ll think twice before I do that again! What is the problem with this scenario, which may seem quite familiar to you? If it is successful, we may have greater courage to try it again, right? But if it is not . . . ? The question we need to ask ourselves is: do we do what we do in life because it is right, regardless of the outcome; or do we do what we do because it works in our eyes? The pragmatic Christian does what appears in his eyes to work out well for him. The faithful Christian does what he does because God said it, regardless of the outcome. It does not mean that obedience of God’s precepts does not lead to success, but it is not always immediately obvious, and possibly not for a long period of time. To seek the glory that comes from the only God, and not from man, or the observing world, is to act and obey because God asks it of you, and calls you to do it, regardless of the result. In truth the glory we seek from God is when we do His will merely to do His will, and not for the measure of the result we expect or hope will follow.
Is this not the way of our Lord? Did Jesus obey the Father’s will to avoid what resulted in the torture of the cross? Did Paul craft his message to escape ridicule, or unpopularity, or jail? Sometimes it was received with great joy, and many other times the result was quite the opposite. Yet his message did not change from what was “first delivered to the saints. Are your words and actions the result of seeking the glory that comes from God, and not your own or from some other? Can you be satisfied in doing what you know to be His will if the outcome does not bring you satisfaction? It is a question worth your asking. God does not call you to be a pragmatic Christian. He calls you to delight in doing His will regardless of what He sovereignly produces from it.
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