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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Generalitites or Specifics

For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” (Mark 6:17,18, NIV)

There’s a story told about a new preacher in a Western logging town downriver from a forest. The loggers would cut down the trees, brand into the tree the insignia of ownership and then launch the logs into the river to float downstream to the town mill.

The preacher was told that some of his parishioners were going down to the river at night, grappling the logs to the bank, cutting off the notches of ownership and putting their own identification on them. He sneaked down to the river, and sure enough, that’s what they were doing.

So, the next Sunday he went to the pulpit and preached about keeping the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.” That next week he went out again to the river and observed that his church people were doing as they had done before.

So, the following Sunday he went back to the pulpit and preached on the theme: “Thou shalt not cut off the ownership brand of thy neighbor’s logs.” The church people ran the preacher out of town.

That’s basically John the Baptist’s problem. Had he preached in general terms against adultery, no one would have bothered him. But he dared to be specific.

Here’s where being specific gets dicey for those who address moral wrongs. John’s ministry focused on repentance. He had singled out several groups coming to him that he warned to repent (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7-14). However, Herod is the only one he singled out individually because Herod had married his own brother’s wife, Herodias.

This Herod of Galilee was a son of Herod the Great who killed the babies of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-18). John the Baptist clearly knew he was taking on a corrupt leader with a violent ancestry.

Had John simply preached in generalities, he might have enjoyed a longer life span.

Several years ago a prominent Christian television network continued to use in ministry leading “charismatic” personalities who had divorced their spouses and married others for no reason other than they simply didn’t want to be married to the first spouse and the other person was more attractive.

When I raised the issue I was told that I was not a forgiving person. I suspect John the Baptist would have gotten the same answer.

There’s a price to be paid when you get specific in confronting sin. Not everyone is like King David who would have a heart change when confronted by a man of God (2 Samuel 12). John the Baptist would pay with his life for confronting Herod.

Strikingly, the Lord does not intervene to protect John. John is seized, bound and imprisoned. No angel springs him loose.

Many times there is no immediate reward for doing right. Those who confront injustice are often treated unjustly.

When you see moral wrong, how do you respond? Do you let it pass? Are you willing to be wrongfully treated if you do confront it? Will you remain true to the Lord even if He doesn’t intervene to protect you?

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, help me to know when to generalize and when to be specific as I deal with wrongs around me, but always help me to be specific about the wrongs within me.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

Previous Years

2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

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