A Cause Worth Dying For
Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication and want what is right for me; Let them say continually, “Let the Lord be magnified, who delights and takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
In our culture, many self-absorbed people focus their energies on doing the newest activity that promises the most pleasure and on getting the latest technology that’s supposed to make life easier. But these things don’t satisfy for very long. God made us so that our hearts long for a transcendent purpose. We want to live for something much bigger than ourselves.
Causes come in every stripe and color. Some people get energized for a political candidate who promises to change a city, state, or nation. Others devote themselves to preserving the planet or helping the homeless. In war, soldiers fight and die for the freedom of those back home.
Many causes are noble, but most of them only have temporary results. Taking the message of Christ’s love not only to the ends of the earth but to family members in our homes and coworkers at our jobs is important eternal work. Beyond even those noble intentions and actions, however, the cause for every believer is to know Christ and to honor Him in every we do. While the cause of Christ involves reaching the lost and changing lives, ultimately the goal is to please the One who gave His life for us. That’s the cause that makes us shout for joy.
Many persons have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
When the Israelites were camped on one hill and the Philistines were camped on the other, facing off in battle, every day Goliath would come out and shout a challenge to the Israelites. “Send out your best man and if he wins we will withdraw but if I win you all will surrender,” he would shout. This challenge went on for days and every day saw the people of God hunkered down in fear. No one, they thought, could meet such a man of war. To do so would be suicide. Into the camp comes a little shepherd boy. He hasn’t come to join the army. His errand is to bring food to his brothers who were in the army. He listens for a while and something rises up in his spirit. He looks at the people of God sitting in fear and asks a question. “Who is this one who dares to challenge the people of the Living God?” he asks. “Why isn’t someone doing something about him?” His brothers began to scold him and to mock him for they saw a little boy who’s only worth was tending sheep and being an errand boy. As the story continues David asks a powerful question that rings throughout Christendom today. He asked, “Is there not a cause?” We learn some valuable lessons from this story. We read that David in making his case rehearsed the times in the past that God had enabled him to defend his father’s sheep against a lion and a bear. Though this situation was different, David saw it no different than his previous experiences. In each case, he saw the cause the same: to defend the helpless. To him it didn’t matter if it was a lion or a bear or a giant, the cause was the cause. When he convinces Saul that he’s the man for the job, Saul offers David his armor. David tries it on and finds its doesn’t fit. Sometimes as Christians and the church we try to do God’s work by using or copying what appears to be a successful model only to have all our effort come to nought. Here’s the lesson: you can’t live your life somebody else’s way. What works for them probably won’t work for you because you aren’t them and God has made you different than anyone else. God wants to use the you He has created to become all that He designed you to be. Many churches try to copycat what some other church is successfully doing but the truth of the matter is that Saul’s armor never fits a David and the same God who equips a Saul with armor also equips a David with stones and a sling and He is not limited nor made more capable by either.
David and his trusty sling head down into the valley and out comes Goliath. When Goliath sees David, he immediately begins to laugh at the idea of this small boy-teenager- coming to take on him-a master of war, skillfully trained for battle. That’s us. Whenever we see the cause of God and we choose to use what God has given us and we go into battle with the devil, he laughs at the idea that little old us would dare such a thing. His problem and Goliath’s problem was that they only see an insignificant human. They don’t see the God of that insignificant human who gives power and might and wisdom. The end of the story gives us a great truth. Those who take up the cause of God will see how God turns the devil’s weapons and tools which were meant to take us out into the very same weapon that takes him out. As David struck Goliath with the little stone and he fell to the ground, David took the giant’s own sword and took off his head. If we will give ourselves to the cause of God- bringing light to darkness, hope to those bound by sin and deliverance to those held captive by Satan and the world, we too, will see how God will take what was meant for our destruction and turn it around for our deliverance and blessing.
We are confronted with great challenges in the world today. We can see them as impossible obstacles or we can view them as great opportunities for God to work through us for good. We can hunker down with fear, fear of the future, fear of change, fear of failure and the like or we can choose to rise to the cause of Christ, to pray for bold faith, to leave our foxholes and run down into the valley to confront the Goliaths of this world. We might just be surprised what God and a shepherd boy can accomplish. We as the people of God dare not substitute the good for the excellent any longer. It is good to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and save the planet but we dare not use these to replace the excellent work of bringing people to Christ. While we’re doing good deeds, while we’re serving the needs of humanity, let us also be reminded that when we feed the hungry, that lasts this lifetime, but when we give them Christ it lasts throughout eternity. Our great cause, indeed our most important cause to take up is the cause to have a personal, intimate relationship with God. When that becomes our priority, then the cause of God become the most important thing we do.
May God grant each of us the time to reflect on our legacy. When our time on earth is done, what will we leave as our legacy? How will those who know us remember us? What will we hear when we stand before Christ in eternity? Did we make the cause of God our cause or did we become distracted with the temporary causes of this world?
David asked, “Is there not a cause?” Christ answered, “Go in my name and take my message of love and hope to everyone you meet. Give them opportunity for choosing their eternity.” May it be so!
Dr. John Thompson