|Never Defend Yourself|
Lisa Barry: Have you ever been misunderstood? I have, and it's very frustrating. Maybe you're in a difficult situation right now and scenarios keep passing through your mind of what people must be saying and thinking about you. Do you feel as though you want to go and talk to anyone who might have heard inaccurate information about you? Well, before you do that, you'll want to hear what Elisabeth Elliot has to say about defending yourself, because that's what's coming up next on Gateway To Joy.
Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, talking with you again today about five vows for spiritual power.
These vows were suggested by A.W. Tozer, that man who is so down to earth and yet so in the heavenlies. He's been in heaven for some time now, but I'm so blessed by some of his writings. I came across this pamphlet called Five Vows for Spiritual Power. I want to weave it together with one of the great hymns; one of the simple old-fashioned hymns called "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."
I'm sure that many of my listeners are familiar with that one, and so if you would just stop for a moment whatever you're doing, and listen to the piano playing of the tune "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Maybe you'd like to sing along.
The third vow of spiritual power is never defend yourself. Hum--that's not easy, is it? We're all born wanting to defend ourselves. Thrusting our fists heavenward and drawing our things around us, and sort of fending off other people. Well, Tozer suggests that we should never defend ourselves. We're all born with a desire to defend ourselves.
If you insist upon defending yourself, God will let you do it. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God, He will defend you. He told Moses once in Exodus 23, "I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, an adversary to thine adversaries."
"A long time ago the Lord and I," says Tozer, "went through the 23rd chapter of Exodus together. He gave it to me. For thirty years now it has been a source of untold blessing to my life. I don't have to fight. The Lord does the fighting for me, and He'll do the same for you. He will be an enemy to your enemy and an adversary to your adversary. And you'll never need to defend yourself."
Let me read some of those verses from Exodus 23. "If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under it's load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.
"Do not deny justice to your poor people in their law courts. Have nothing to do with a false charge; and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for (God says) I will not acquit the guilty.
"Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips."
The Lord says, "I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. Do not make a covenant with their gods. Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me.
"But the Lord himself will defend you. He will be an enemy unto thine enemies and an adversary to your adversaries." Tozer says the Lord does the fighting for me, and He'll do the same for you.
Now what do we defend? Well, we defend our talents, we defend our service, and particularly we defend our reputation. Your reputation is what people think you are. If a story gets out about you, the big temptation is to try to run it down. But you know running down the source of a story is hopeless task--absolutely hopeless. It's like trying to find the bird after you've found the feather on your lawn. I like that metaphor. Like trying to find a bird after you've found the feather on your lawn. You can't do it!
If you'll turn yourself wholly over to God, He will defend you completely and see to it that no one will harm you. "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper," He says, "and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgement thou shalt condemn."
Henry Suso was a great Christian of other days. Once he was seeking what some Christians have told me they are seeking--to know God better. Let's put it like this, you're seeking to have a religious awakening with your spirit that will thrust you farther out into the deep things of God. As Henry Suso was seeking God, people started telling evil stories about the man. It grieved him so that he wept bitter tears and had great sorrow of heart. Then one day he looked out the window and saw a dog playing on the lawn. The dog had a mat and kept picking the mat up, tossing it over his shoulder, running and getting it, tossing it some more, picking it up and tossing it again.
God said to Henry Suso, "That mat is your reputation, and I am letting the dogs of sin tear your reputation to shreds and toss it all over the lawn for your own good. One of these days things will change." Things did change. It was not very long before people who were tearing his reputation were confounded, and Suso rose into a place that made him a power in his day and a great blessing still to those who sing his hymns and read his works.
So let me give you some words from this lovely, very simple little Gospel hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." We do not need to defend ourselves. "All our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer." Now somebody's driving a car and listening to this radio program. Are you carrying everything to God in prayer, or are you on your way to some very difficult encounter with somebody that you don't relish seeing? Remember this friend that you have in Jesus.
"Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Have we trials and temptations?" Who of us hasn't? "Is there trouble anywhere?" Of course there is. But "we should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer.
"Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share. Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge. Take it to the Lord in prayer.
"Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?" As Henry Suso's did? What are you suppose to do about it? Just what he did. "Take it to the Lord in prayer. In His arms He'll take and shield thee." Remember those everlasting arms. "Thou wilt find a solace there."
Lisa Barry: Well, I hope that you've found a little solace for your day today. And think of how much better you'll sleep tonight, if you let God go to work on your problem for you. Just be prepared for God's timing. And before we go, I want to encourage you to consider Gateway To Joy in your giving. I know I have a few ministries that I give to more regularly, and it's because some just inspire and challenge me more than others. If Gateway To Joy does that for you, then I pray that you'll encourage us with a financial gift when you call or write. Every gift--large or small--makes a big difference. Here's our address:
Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska 68501. That's Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska 68501. If you'd like information on how to purchase the book Elisabeth's been reading from, The Pursuit of God, or this weekly tape series, you can call us at 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. Or dial up our Web site at gatewaytojoy.org.
Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible. Tomorrow Elisabeth encourages us to avoid hurtful words when our feelings are trampled upon. Find out how next time on Gateway To Joy.