When Gideon gathered an army to fight the enemies of Israel, he had 32,000 men with him. But God knew that they were not all wholehearted. And so, God whittled them down. The fearful were sent home first. But 10,000 still remained. These were then taken down to the river and tested. Only 300 passed the test and were approved by God (Judges 7:1-8).“We must not allow anything of this world to distract us from total devotion to the Lord.”
The way those 10,000 people drank water from the river to alleviate their thirst was the means God used to determine who qualified to be in Gideon’s army. Little did they realise that they were being tested. 9700 of them forgot all about the enemy while kneeling down to satisfy their thirst. Only 300 of them remained on their feet, alert, drinking the water with cupped hands.
It is in the ordinary things of life that God tests us – in our attitude to money, pleasure, earthly honour and comfort etc. Like Gideon’s army, we too don’t often realise that God is testing us.
Jesus warned us not to be weighed down with the cares of this world. He said, “Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap” (Luke 21:34). Paul exhorted the Corinthian Christians saying, “From now on both those who have wives should be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away….I say this to secure your undistracted devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:29-35).
We must not allow anything of this world to distract us from total devotion to the Lord. The legitimate things of the world are a greater snare than the sinful things – because the legitimate things look so innocent and harmless!!
We can alleviate our thirst – but we must cup our hands and drink just the bare minimum necessary. Our mind is to be set on the things above and not on things of earth. We have to forsake all if we are to be disciples of Jesus. Like a rubber-band that is stretched, our mind can attend to the things of earth that are necessary. But once those things have been attended to, like the rubber-band springing back to its normal position, when released from its tension, our minds too should spring back to the things of the Lord and of eternity. This is what it means to have our mind “set on things above and not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). With many believers, however, the rubber-band works the other way. Their minds are stretched now and then to think about eternal things and when released, come back to their normal mode of being occupied with the things of this world!
By Zac Poonen
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