Here’s this months’ Gone Fishin’ Newsletter.
Gone Fishin’ Monthly Newsletter – April 2021
”I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me; the Lord will reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.” (2 Samuel 3:39).
Well, Easter has come and gone, but what a joy it is to know that its’ message carries on during the rest of the year!
I want to offer a big thank you to all who took part in the Easter Outreach, whether by helping out with the Gospel packs, setting up the stall, or getting amongst the lost. It is awesome to see people being obedient to the Great Commission!
We may not have given out all our Gospel packs, but we can re-purpose them for the next outing this Saturday.
Check out the Easter Outreach Report to see how things went!
I don’t know about you, but recently I have been met with a particular response from an unbeliever when witnessing one-on-one lately.
The scenario: I have taken someone through the law, and they have admitted to breaking multiple commandments. They admit they will be guilty on Judgement Day. They admit that God will send them to hell. However, their response is “It will be what it will be. If that’s what I deserve, then so be it.” When I offer the Good News, they say it would be offensive to let someone else take the punishment for them.
I must admit that I was initially thrown by this. Why on earth would someone willingly want to go to hell when they don’t have to, because it is what they deserve? And why would they be offended by another who was willing to take their hell punishment for them?
Maybe it’s an indictment on our modern culture; after all, it’s fashionable to be offended these days. Some wear it as a badge of honour.
But I wanted a Biblical answer, not a sociological, or intellectual one. And I found it in the verse above while in my devotions. So, let’s dig a little deeper and unpack it…
2 Samuel 3 – The backstory:
Abner was King Saul’s cousin, and commander of his army. When Saul died, Abner rejected David as next in line, and instead installed Saul’s son Ishbosheth as King. This caused a civil war.
David’s sister Zeruiah had three sons, all commanders in David’s army – two being Asahel & Joab. These two were pursuing Ishbosheth and Abner. Abner killed Asahel, possibly out of self-defence.
Later, Abner defected to David after a family disagreement, and was installed into his army. This caused outrage from Joab. In retaliation for killing his brother, Joab killed Abner.
David could not control his nephews, so he laments over them. And in this moment, we can learn some things, both about how God sees evil, and how we should respond to it.
“…these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me…”
Sometimes, the sinning that some people admit to can seem jaw-dropping. I can take people through all of the 10 Commandments, and sometimes have them admit to breaking all of them. But occasionally, I get someone who reveals all:
Not only do they admit to theft, they admit they have performed an armed robbery.
Not only do they admit to adultery of the heart, they admit to committing a rape.
And yes, not only do they admit hatred in the heart, they admit to actually murdering someone!
Thankfully, this happens rarely! And when it does, it shows the depth that sin corrupts. This can seem overwhelming and intimidating to us. But really, all they are is a sinner just like you and me. And all sinners deserve hell.
When some see the trouble they are in, no amount of pleading for them to repent can cause a heart change – they see their sin as too corrupt for even God to atone for. They seem resolved to accept whatever punishment they deserve. We can tell them of God’s grace through Christ, but that is offensive. Maybe it’s just a Kiwi humble thing, I don’t know. It can be so frustrating.
As hard as it may seem, sometimes we just need to raise our hands in defeat, just like David, and walk away. Their sinful heart is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to tell them the bad news, and the good news. The rest is between them and God.
“…the Lord will reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.”
Hebrews 10:13 tells us “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.
God will eventually have His way. He will be glorified in either the sinners’ destruction, or their salvation.
David says that the evildoer is “rewarded” because of their wickedness. That seems a strange thing to say. We see reward as generally being something earned due to honest hard work, or an achievement attained. However, the opposite can also be true. A bank robber is rewarded for their hard work with a long holiday at a corrections facility. In some countries, a murderer may be rewarded with a cocktail of lethal injections that put them to sleep like a stray dog. Just as good can be rewarded, so can evil.
Paul puts in more clearly in Romans 3:23 “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. All our sinning has earnt us, is death. Death is a reward for us choosing to rebel against God, and going our own way. It is also a reward for trying to earn our way into heaven by our good deeds.
People may escape punishment in this life. They could literally get away with murder.
But God will have His way. Hebrews 9:27 says “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement”. Murderers will be caught. But so will liars, blasphemers, idolaters, fornicators, and coveters. That covers everyone on this earth. There is no sin that will escape His perfect judgement. Only repentance and faith in Christ will assure the believer of a positive eternity.
Look, it’s a hard call to walk away from an evangelistic encounter knowing the person has no intention of changing their sinful ways. But sometimes, it’s the only thing you can do. The person could die tonight. But if you have wrestled with them in order to win them for Christ, then you have done your job.
Let go. Let God deal with them. Move on.
God will either reward them with eternal life, or eternal punishment.
I’ll see you at my place this Saturday at 10am for prayer before heading out. It’s the Oranga Festival at the shops, so there may be more people about than usual!
Witnessing Tip: It’s OK to talk to strangers!
Contrary to what your mother drummed into you, talking to strangers is fine with evangelism!
The Great Commission involves going “into all the world”.
There are more people you don’t know, than ones you do, so you should get accustomed to talking with them.