Have you ever felt like God has a different standard for you than for others? Well, His Word lays a Sure Standard for us all, but if you've ever felt this way, there is some truth to your feelings that can also be found in the Word. Let's take a look.
I was sitting in a Bible study class last week and we were discussing the topic of obedience to God, the power of our spoken words and consequences for doubting the Lord. An example was given of Zechariah, who was the Father of John the Baptist. Here's some background if your not familiar with the story...
Zechariah was a Priest to God. He had been selected to go into the Holy of Holies to offer the annual sacrifice. To be selected to go into the Temple was a great honor and required great purity and virtue.
("Zechariah and Elizabeth had God’s approval. They followed all the Lord’s commands and regulations perfectly." Luke 1:6)
While he was in the Temple burning the incense an Angel, Gabriel, appeared to him and told him of the birth of a son God was going to give to he and his barren wife. They were well advanced in years and had never had a child. This would be a great miracle, but also all the details the angel shared of this child's life! Truly extraordinary. Can you imagine how he felt in that moment? It was probably a lot to receive. So many emotions must have filled his heart, his hope, his mind turning over the possibility and trying to wrap itself around such a thing!! He may have been wondering, "What? After all this time? Why now?" I know a lot of young families who unexpectedly find themselves expecting having similar emotions. Imagine on such an extreme circumstance as Zechariah and Elizabeth!
"Zechariah said to the angel, 'What proof is there for this? I’m an old man, and my wife is beyond her childbearing years.'" Luke 5:18
Because Zechariah doubted the Messenger, the Angel silenced him until the birth of the child. The man could not speak. His Voice taken from him.
As I sat in Bible study I thought of the discipline Zechariah received for having stunned disbelief. I couldn't help it, my brain immediately went to Gideon. A Judge of the Old Testament appointed to lead God's people. If you don't know this story, it's found in the book of Judges 6 in the Bible. Gideon was FULL of doubt.
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13
The Lord appeared to him and told him that the Lord was with him and he was a Mighty Warrior (Judges 6:12) and would lead the Israelites to freedom from their oppressors.
He not only doubts and questioned the Lord, he asked for repeated signs and gave all kinds of conditions to prove it was from God. He was testing it! He didn't just do it once, he did it multiple times! Yet, God graciously complied. He did not receive the same discipline or expectation as Zechariah...why?
It's good to probe the HEART of God so we can get a deeper glimpse and grow closer to its beat.
Here is something to stir your wonder and maybe cause you to dig deeper into the heart of God and what He is looking for in the way of loyalty. His expectations of us are dependent on how He has equipped us. He definitely equips each of us for what we are called to. The greater the Calling the more discipline required and obedience to submit to the Ways and Will of God. Check out this verse...
"But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
Perhaps Zechariah was gifted with more Faith? Perhaps he was more gifted than Gideon on multiple levels. Or maybe it was merely his title and station that required more. This is not a comparison of men...but check it out.
Luke 5 said he and his wife (speaking of Zechariah and Elizabeth) not only did the will of God, but they did it perfectly. That implies they didn't "miss it" or stumble very much. They were mature and seasoned in their faith. Gideon on the other hand tended to struggle with cowardice. He wasn't necessarily known for Valor and God was asking him to step out in Faith and do something that not only made no sense, but was chalked with tremendous Valor and Courage. God knew all of this, of course He did, and He had Grace for Gideon's ambivalence. Because inside a man who considered himself nothing, God saw something extraordinary.
So what is the point of my diatribe? It's simple, really, other people are not our plump line...Jesus is. We cannot compare our obedience and Call to that of another. It doesn't matter how greatly you have obeyed the lead of God or how simple your faith. God's assignment is different for us all and all He measures is our obedience and submission to what He has spoken to us alone. It doesn't matter what other people do, it only matters what you choose to do. Live and choose in the knowledge that your choices affect others, not just yourself. The greater your responsibility, the greater your accountability to God.
God is so good, so merciful, so kind and Sovereign! He knew all along that Gideon would eventually muster up the courage and obey and he also knew that by Zechariah's silence it would draw even more attention to the Glory of God and the mantle of Unique Authority placed on the baby tucked in His wife's womb. God is such an Economizer. When He chooses to move, He sets the conditions to maximize the number of eyes prepared to see His Awesome Wonder and Capacity to do whatever He wants to do.
He wants to use you...
Are you ready? No doubts, no worries, no looking about. Eyes fixed on Him. He is waiting to begin something extraordinary in your life.