Tuesday, January 5

The Man God Uses

While you're thinking about your new year's resolutions, consider the character of a truly godly man in Luke's gospel account. Character is what we ARE, not just what we plan to become. Yes, character drives our resolve. But it seems much more to the point to say that it is our resolve that shapes our character! Learn from Simeon:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him (Luke 2:25).
What does Luke tell us of Simeon? He was: 1) righteous, 2) devout, 3) waiting for the consolation of Israel, and 4) the Holy Spirit was upon him.

First, Simeon was RIGHTEOUS (or Just).

Matthew Henry locates Simeon's righteousness toward man. But it seems more than that. The same word is used in 1:6 of both Zechariah and Elizabeth. According to I. H. Marshall this kind of righteousness "implies a religious rather than a purely ethical character, seen in obedience to God's commands and going beyond a merely external, legal righteousness." In other words, they weren't legalistic but loved God with their hearts, and that evidenced itself consequently toward man. It would seem that one must be righteous IN God before he can be just TOWARD others. It is one of the banes of mankind that without Christ they only live in deceit, manipulating one another. But not a righteous man! They cannot tolerate that kind of behavior. It's not that they are never guilty of such behavior. It's that they despise it and with God's eternal help deny such a lifestyle at every turn!

Second, Simeon was DEVOUT.

Henry shows this was toward God. Righteous toward man, devout toward God. We can agree with this. Devout means "reverence or pious." It comes from the word (eulabeis) that according to Marshall, "originally meant 'cautious' and hence 'careful in religious duties.' Because of it's negative tone it may not seem desirous to so define our word. But I think it's a fine choice. Interestingly, during the first and second great awakenings in our country (and Europe), moral decrepitude was often described using the terms "careless." Men and women had grown "careless" of their souls, of God's Word, of the judgment to come, of heaven and hell. Devout, then would be the opposite of that--careful, and attentive to spiritual matters, God's Word, etc. 

It was devout men who buried the martyr, Stephen. They realized the import of what had happened, and the heart of the martyr to willingly die for the name of Christ. That was precious to them, as any such death should be to the lover of Jesus Christ.

Third, Simeon was WAITING.

Waiting is not a passive word; it is an actively submissive word, one which suggests dependence upon another to supply what he himself obviously cannot. In Psalm 5:3, David said, "In the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and WATCH." See the connection? David did something in the preparing of a sacrifice. But that wasn't ALL he did. He "watched." Watching is a word that suggests faith, a faith in the offering as well as a faith in how that offering is received. To care for both is a truly righteous act. "Waiting," like "watching" is righteous. No one else could provide the "consolation" Israel needed. Judas Maccabeus had tried earlier in a rebellion and failed. Now, the Messiah had come! Was He to give them the longed-for deliverance? Simeon's eye was fixed on God to see what God would do. God and ONLY God. Waiting believes God knows best. Waiting trusts that God will do what is best. Waiting is what faith-filled men and women do.

Fourth, Simeon was HOLY SPIRIT empowered. 

This almost seems obvious--not to undermine the Spirit's presence. But it seems, doesn't it, that the first three characteristics--righteous, devout, and waiting--could never have occurred unless and until the Holy Spirit were present in some capacity? But that demurring statement aside, the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary to any one if they are to be godly! The Spirit is central in Luke's Gospel and Acts when men are being used by God to spread the gospel and to build the church. Acts has sometimes been entitled, "The Acts of the Holy Spirit," for He is the one behind the progress of the Christian church. HE STILL IS! And godly men are glad for this.

So, I ask you . . . are you godly? If someone were to write your epitaph, would it say, "They were righteous, devout, waiting and Spirit-empowered?" Make this NOT a resolution to be performed, but a heart to be emulated. That is FAITH; that is GODLINESS. That is JOY and that is LIFE itself. Don't miss it!


1 comment:

Daniel said...

Well said, Pastor.