January 2000 – As we enter a new year, a new decade, a new century, and a new millennium, I want to share a simple, biblical principle with you. Sometimes God asks us to be obedient and persevere in difficult circumstances even when victory seems very far away. It’s called faithfulness.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Those, of course, are Paul’s words to the churches of Galatia.
Let us make those words our motto. We have much work to do for the Lord. Even as many church leaders encourage us to abandon our heritage and scriptural wisdom, let us continue to stand for Truth, to do what we can to turn the tide of sin engulfing our society.
The Scripture tells us about some of the men who stood with David when the enemies of God’s people pressed in all around them. Those men are called David’s “mighty men.” We are told very little about them, but what we are told should greatly encourage us. The first man mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:8-12 is Josheb-Basshebeth, who fought against Israel’s enemy and killed 800 at one time. Josheb was faithful even though the odds appeared stacked against him.
The second of the “mighty men” was Eleazar. He stood with David in defiance of the Philistines, even when it says “the men of Israel had withdrawn.” Eleazar was faithful even though he stood nearly alone against those who would enslave the people of God.
In battle, the Bible tells us that this man of God “arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword.” Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been so spiritually weary and worn that it would have felt so good just to drop that sword for a while, or that plow, or that pulpit, or that marriage or those kids?
Eleazar remained faithful in the midst of that kind of weariness. And yet the Bible tells us that, because he did not quit, “the Lord brought about a great victory.”
Finally, there was Shammah, who also found himself abandoned by the other warriors of Israel as the Philistines approached to do battle. Now Shammah found himself in “a plot of ground full of lentils.” Literally, this man was standing in a bean field. We are not told that it held any strategic significance or military value.
But that bean field is where Shammah found himself, staring across at the Philistines. That was where the fight was, and that was where the mighty man of God stood fast. Shammah “took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory.”
Sometimes God places us in a situation in which we ask, “Why should I fight this fight? It’s just not worth it!” But God knows the value of the bean field, even if we don’t. He calls us to stand fast anyway.
As we come to this point in history, I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you who have stood with us, some of you for many years.
Let us keep on keeping on. It is not always within our ability to be successful. But it is always within our ability to be faithful.
Let us be so.