Tag Archives: Romans 8:38-39

Job Security Part II

17 Jan

Last week, in Part I of our series, we explored why “job security” is more myth than reality. This week, we’ll begin taking a look at how to handle that reality… beginning with the recognition that nothing in this world is ever quite as secure as we like to fool ourselves into believing it is.  Families break up, the stock market falls, our car blows a tire, terrorists attack, friends come and go, and so do jobs.  The only real security for any of us is the kind that God offers through faith in His Son.

According to the Bible, this sort of security is eternal and totally exclusive of own efforts.  John 10:27-29 says, “My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one will snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.  So no one can take them from me.”  And in Romans 8:38,39 the apostle Paul declares, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love.  Death can’t, and life can’t.  The angels can’t, and the demons can’t.  Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So how do we know if we have this kind of security?  To begin with, we need to understand that God created us with the desire to be close to us. As with most relationships, that closeness involves love and consideration. Unless you’re an eight-year-old child, you don’t hit someone with whom you hope to develop a good friendship. And unless you really don’t want a relationship with God, you don’t intentionally hurt Him either.

Unfortunately, instead of nurturing our relationship with God, each of us has chosen the route of that eight-year-old. Romans 3:23 states that, “…all have sinned; all fall short.” We’ve chosen to strike God rather than embrace Him. And as much as God would like each of us to be His friend, He isn’t going to force us to do something we don’t want to do.

Rejecting His friendship, however, also means rejecting all of the benefits of that friendship. James 1:17 tells us that, “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father.” (NLT) So in rejecting God, we’re also rejecting everything that’s good. This absence of good is known as “Hell” and the description the Bible gives of this place is not pretty. The Apostle John wrote, “I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne.  And the books were opened, including the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done.  And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”  (Revelation 20:12,15) This is eternal separation from God, beyond the reach of His friendship. And it’s a choice we make.

So what happens when we realize that we’ve made the wrong choice? Well, there’s good news… God didn’t quit wanting a relationship with us just because we didn’t want one with Him. In order to make reconciliation possible, He took on human flesh and died on a cross to pay the price that justice demanded. (This would be a bit like a person being convicted of assault… and someone else serving the prison sentence.) All we have to do is accept that gift. Ephesians 2:8,9 states that, “God saved you by his special favor when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

If we’ve accepted that gift, then we have the eternal security we talked about earlier.  Nothing that we or anyone else can do will ever change the fact that we’re Heaven bound!  This free gift, however, effects more than our eternal destination: it plays an important role in how we cope with the insecurities that we experience right here on earth.  Once our relationship with God has been restored, He offers us peace amidst turmoil, patience in the face of injustice, and satisfaction even when we’ve been wronged.  He offers us the grace to handle any situation we encounter either at home, at school, or in the workforce with the confidence and assurance that He is on our side.  And that is security at its best!

When Submission Turns to Slavery – Part II

15 Mar

I looked down at the caller I.D. and cringed.  It was my boss.  Again.  It was my day off and I could guess why she was calling.  The company had a notable difficulty retaining employees and we almost constantly had someone on sick leave.  Every time someone called in, I got called out.  I knew that I wasn’t their slave, but at this point I was definitely beginning to feel like one!

The truth is that most of us have faced similar situations in which someone with authority over some aspects of our lives (in this case, the hours I was scheduled to work) has felt that their authority extended to all aspects of our lives.  The situation can be a sticky one regardless of your religious convictions.  After all, if we don’t take a stand, the odds are that others will take advantage of us.  But if we do draw a line, the authority has the power to make our lives miserable!  So what do we do?  Do we obediently show up every time we’re asked?  Do we work overtime during our scheduled vacation?  Or do we say no and risk not having a job at all?

If you were paying attention, you’ll notice that there is one common factor in each of these questions:  fear.  Fear of being mistreated.  Fear of someone taking advantage of us.  Fear of being without an income.  And when fear is a factor, slavery isn’t far behind.  In fact, if I were to be asked where the boundary lies between submission and slavery, this is where I’d draw the line.

According to Romans 8:14-15, “… all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”  Indeed, in God’s sovereignty He has ensured that, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13) If this is true and God’s hand is present even in our suffering, we can be certain that there is no reason to fear.  Nothing that touches us does so without His approval and nothing we encounter is beyond His control.  (See: Romans 8:38-39)  The Apostle Paul urges us, “therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”  (Galatians 5:1b)  As believers, we will face trials and frustrations, but we do so with the knowledge that, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.”  (Galatians 5:1a)

With this in mind, we can approach commands like that of 1 Peter 2:18-19, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable,” from a different perspective.  Why?  Because according to the Apostle, this obedience “…finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.”  The difference between submission and slavery isn’t in the action, itself, but in what motivates that action – a desire to glorify God or a fear of the potential results of that decision.

Where does this leave me staring at my ringing phone?  Quite simply, with a choice.  A choice between freedom and slavery – not by the action I take, but by the attitude with which I take that action.

The decision isn’t always an easy one.  Sometimes we need the day off.  Sometimes God is better glorified by our willingness to help out in a pinch.  Each person and every situation is different.  But whether we choose to go to work on our day off or not, if we make that decision with an understanding of God’s sovereignty and a desire to glorify Him, we can’t go wrong!

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