Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Mark 3:20-35; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Psalm 89:1-10; Judges 6-7
Living ethically in the light of the Bible means we seek the Lord’s guidance in all our decisions. But how exactly do we know what God wants us to do? Christians can and do legitimately disagree over various ethical issues. So, how do we determine God’s will for us? The idea of ‘putting out a fleece’ to discern God’s will comes from the story in Judges 6. The idea is that if God wants us to do something (like take a certain job, buy a house, become a missionary, marry the one we love) we pray for a sign, as Gideon did. To be honest, though, even if the sign appears, I often wonder whether it came from God or just happened to appear. Then I respond like Gideon and ask God for another sign, just to be sure!
To understand Gideon’s request properly, we must look more closely at its context. In Judges 6:14, the angel of the Lord stated clearly that God would use him to deliverIsraelfrom the Midianites. Gideon asks for a sign and is shown fire miraculously springing from a rock (not to mention seeing the angel of the Lord). He then asks for a second sign (the wet fleece on dry ground), followed by a third (the dry fleece on wet ground). Little wonder that his third request includes an appeal that God not get angry with him! This raises questions about whether Gideon’s approach is given as example to follow or avoid. The passage certainly points to God’s remarkable patience.
Today’s passage in 1 Corinthians 10 teaches that Old Testament stories are relevant for our lives. But we must still discern whether these are examples to follow or examples to help us avoid craving evil things. Gideon himself acknowledges that his repeated requests for a sign pushes things with God. We too may continue seeking signs when God already revealed his will clearly. The Bible makes very clear that some things are wrong, no matter how many ‘signs’ are pointing towards them. Other things we should be doing, no matter how many diversions are in place. God gives clear biblical direction, but also leads through circumstances, subjective leadings of the Holy Spirit, and wise counsel. In the end, within the clear boundaries, we have to take steps of faith trusting that God is faithful as Psalm 89 reminds us.