When good people do nothing, and just what should they be doing anyway?
This is my message from last Sunday evening, more or less...
One Sunday morning, everyone in one bright, beautiful, tiny town got up early and went to the local church.
Before the services started, the townspeople were sitting in their pews and talking about their lives, their families, etc. Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church. Everyone started screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from evil incarnate.
Soon everyone was evacuated from the church, except for one elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew, not moving... seemingly oblivious to the fact that God's ultimate enemy was in his presence. Now this confused Satan a bit, so he walked up to the man and said, "Don't you know who I am?"
The man replied, "Yep, sure do."
Satan asked, "Aren't you afraid of me?"
"Nope, sure ain't," said the man.
Satan was a little perturbed at this and queried, "Why aren't you afraid of me?"
The man calmly replied, "I’ve been married to your sister for 48 years."
Chances are, if evil did show up like that, we would take notice and hopefully do something. We have days set up to remember the fallen, when evil truly shows up. One example is April 15, which is Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Yom haShoah Ve'Hagvura or Yom HaShoah (יום השואה yom ha-sho’āh, יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה-Yom ha-zikaron la-Shoah v'la-Gvura), "Holocaust Martyrs' Remembrance Day" or, literally, "Remembrance day for The Holocaust and Heroism", takes place on the 27th day of the month Nisan, in the Hebrew calendar, which falls in the early spring. It is held every year in remembrance of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. It is a national memorial day in Israel.
However, evil doesn’t have to show up in a big way to seemingly “get ahead”.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
It does seem like evil triumphs, but we see what happens in the end…
7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
9And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
All evil has to do, is creep in a little bit at a time. We tend to overlook little things, because they don’t affect us. It’s like the instructions on how to cook a frog. If you throw a frog in boiling water, it’s coming right back out. If you put it in lukewarm water and gradually turn the heat up, the frog is cooked before it knows what happened. Evil and sin just have to creep into our lives in small increments.
I remember as a kid watching cartoons after school. My favorite one was G.I. Joe. At the end of the cartoon, they would have some kind of public service announcement. Telling kids to stay away from medicine that didn’t belong to them… To stay away from power lines… At the end, the kids would say, “And now we now…” Then the character would say, “And knowing is half the battle…”
Knowing is one half of the battle. We live in the Information Age – we are surrounded by knowledge that is good and bad. The Fairmont State Library has access to thousands of magazines and journals, and a few hundred thousand books. If you go to Google.com, and do a search, it takes:
- 0.12 seconds to generate 141,000,000 links for the word “Bible”
- 0.20 seconds to generate 325,000,000 links for the word “Church”
We should always strive to keep learning. Like others, including online writer Phil Elmore, I don’t think we should keep an open mind. Like an open box, things can fall in and out depending on how it is moved. We should, however, keep an active mind. We should think about what we hear – analyze it to see how it aligns with the Bible. Don’t blindly follow something even if it is tradition. So many times, it is things we do out of habit or tradition – things we have no explanation for – that lose their meaning and significance.
Doing is the other half of the battle. We can spend all day reading and studying, but eventually, we have to implement that knowledge or it is basically worthless.
In Genesis 41, we read about Joseph interpreting the Pharaoh’s dreams, and then how the Pharaoh implemented a plan – he did something…
39And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
40Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
41And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
57And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.
I like how Chapter 42 begins:
1Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
2And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.
3And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
The NIV translates the last part of verse one, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?”
Do something – go to Egypt and buy us some corn so that we may live…
“It’s always right to do the right thing.” I think that was the motto of the kid’s program at my last church.
It is always right to do the right thing. However, it won’t always be easy, safe, or popular. It it was, we wouldn’t have to worry about doing it, because people would be lined up to get their chance at 15 minutes of fame.
A line from a Bob Dylan song sticks in my mind: “How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn’t see?” I made that into a bumper sticker for my truck. I put a corresponding verse below it…
17Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
There is no middle ground in our battle with evil. There are times when we must pick a side and take a stand.
As some us sang Easter morning in the Cantata, "Like a line that's drawn across the sand the truth demands a choice." I thought it was fitting for the men to sing that, because men are traditionally the head of the household. If you've ever tried to lead an animal, you know that where the head leads, the rest tends to follow.
15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
30He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
1 Kings 18
21And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
11And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
12And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem.
13And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.
14And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
15And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?
16And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.
17And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
18And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
19And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
20Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
21And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
22And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
23And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;
24And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
25And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.
26And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?
27Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.
28Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
29And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.
30And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?
31And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;
32And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no.
33And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.
34And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
35And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
36And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.
22Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
23And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
24When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
We are judged by our actions.
1 Peter 2:11-12
11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today, is Christians; who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. – dc Talk
We are also judged by our inactions.
11In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
12But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
13Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;
14Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.
15For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.
26The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
27For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
28For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
18Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
19And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
20And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
30And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
So, what are we supposed to be doing?
9He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
10Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.
38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
1Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
2 Timothy 2
15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
5Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
2 Timothy 3
1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
2 Timothy 4
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
I don’t think we should go around condemning people left and right – watching to see if they break any “laws” that man has set up like the Scribes and Pharisees. However, in the Bible, there are absolute right and wrong things. These sins can’t be glossed over. We are to love the sinner, but hate the sin. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
11But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
3Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
4And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
And in doing these things, we will be able to do the most important thing.
16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.