By Sophia Christiaan
Over the years, my husband and I have been the subject of many individuals’ well wishes for us. We have learned the lesson the Apostle Paul encountered when some ‘well-meaning believers’ prophesied that he should not go to Jerusalem, knowing it would be trouble for him. The Bible says they prophesied through the Holy Spirit! Yet, Paul knew in his heart he had to go. So, the question is, was it the Holy Spirit speaking something conflicting, and was it ultimately God’s will that he should go or not go?
The Apostle Paul said,
We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go onto Jerusalem.Acts 21:4 NLT
He also said,
And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead.Acts 20:22 NLT
I have found myself in Paul’s shoes many times. I am urged by loving, ‘well-meaning Christians’ to go in a certain direction. And while it may be God’s will, the timing is not right. Their words sound so perfect and true, and yet, it’s not what God has told me. I am basically receiving conflicting messages, and if I can’t understand what is happening, it will lead to confusion.
In Paul’s case, he was obviously a very humble, correctable and accountable man of God, who obeyed what people said when they spoke from the Lord. But there were times when he had to follow the voice of Christ, even if he was the only one hearing it.
This can be the same thing with each of us believers, and ultimately, as we mature in Christ, we will come to a point where the road splits: One leads down a path where people’s wishes and well-meaning intentions take over the lead, and the other road to a place of withdrawing yourself in order to preserve what God has said in your own heart.
This is a place where all the religious voices around you will warn you and bring their most loving concerned hearts to your attention, for you to not become a “lone wolf,” as they say. They assume you are acting proudly, resisting counsel, and will insinuate that your lack of accountability is “dangerous” when in reality, you have never been more accountable to God.
This is also a place, where you will find that your normal go-to voices of confirmation won’t be able to speak to you anymore the way they used to, and you might find yourself scouring among your acquaintances in the attempt to find a “true” voice.
King Jehoshaphat asked for such a voice:
Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.1. Kings 22:7 NLT
At this crossroad, God is basically isolating you on purpose, much to your chagrin, in order to produce a godly character in you that says, “I cannot and will not please people! I love Jesus more than anyone or anything, and if I am going to serve Him, I must please Him alone without compromise!”
God is pleased when we give up something to receive more of Him. In order to hear God’s voice better for your own life, you will have to lay down the desire to do what is expected of you by others. The problem is, it comes with a price of loneliness and solitude, possibly even ousting yourself from your own social circle of believers. It is a time when you understand that God’s Kingdom truly means trading human wisdom for godly wisdom.
But rest assured, many believers all over the world go through the same kind of struggles as you do.
Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.1. Peter 5:9b NLT
WHAT IS THE TEMPTATION OF THE WELL-INTENTIONED?
The main areas your average ‘well-meaning Christian’ will bring to your attention, will always have to do with things this world can offer. This is because many still live carnal lives and haven’t left their material world behind to go and follow Christ. They will tell you to prioritize financial security, safety, fellowship and education…basically anything that will affect your future in a way that makes it impossible to go further down the path where God might be leading you, because that path with be a path of faith and learning to live by faith, which is the opposite of material security.
Many new believers will feel a strong leading (by the Holy Spirit) to go out on the mission field or serve God in a capacity that doesn’t involve planning for the safety of their future. Quite to the contrary, it is a path that puts them at the receiving end of donations, no steady income, no 401K, and what many ‘well-meaning believers’ will label flat-out irresponsible.
My husband has told me of many lessons he has learned over the years in ministry. One of them was when he set out to plant his first church in Europe in the late 80’s, and how he was bombarded with questions from many ‘well-meaning believers’ about how he was going to pay for this or pay for that! He always says, “If I had listened to any of them, I would have never accomplished anything for the Lord!”
He never allowed doubt about God’s power to provide for His work to destroy his mind. Still to this day, he is always positive and full of faith in God and says that if God is the one who builds the house, he will never build in vain! In other words, it is not his work, but God’s!
If God has called us to live for Him, would He ever abandon us? No, never. And those times He did not provide for something, those times He shut the door, that was also His plan, because He had another plan in mind.
Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.Hebrews 13:5 NLT
Can’t we just have both security and walk in faith? Wouldn’t that be so wonderfully convenient? To that, the Word makes it clear, when Jesus said,
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.Matthew 6:24 NLT
Copyright©2019 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan