Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Gains and Pains of 2017 (Part 2)

Reading: Romans 8:1-17

Last week, we discussed those who had it rough in 2017, those who could be described as having suffered pains. We said "those who do not know God waste their pains" We now visit those for whom 2017 were all gains. To them 2017 was a year of blessings, God's favour, all things falling into place, rejoicing and celebration, success upon success. We rejoice with them!

The end will depend on how well they manage success or "gains".

Related: How do we manage success?

There are a few people who mismanaged their gains in the Scripture. Our first example is Noah. It is hard to find another person more favoured than Noah. While the rest of the world perished in a flood, Noah had his wife and children and their wives - eight of them - saved and blessed by God. After months of boat cruising, they alighted and were further blessed by God. Noah planted a vineyard, had a very rich harvest but unfortunately had a less than stellar end. His blessing became a curse for his son. (Genesis 9:18-24)

We look at another man who mismanaged his gains - Hezekiah, king of Judah. He was a very successful king and served God with all his strength. One day, he fell sick and God sent a prophet to tell him "Put your affairs in order, for you are about to die,you will not recover" Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to God for more time. God answered his prayer and extended his life by fifteen years.

How did Hezekiah manage those fifteen years of grace? His heart was lifted up. His first folly was his welcoming the delegation from Babylon who came to congratulate him on his gains. His second folly was his answer to Prophet Isaiah who came to correct him. The crown of his folly was the birth of Manasseh who succeeded him as king at age 12. Manasseh turned out to be the worst king to ever rule Judah (2 Kings 20:1 -21:18)

The Bible is filled with such stories - Lot is another noteworthy example - but we will stop with these two today.

Gains can turn to pains if they are not managed well. 

How do we manage gains well? Let us turn to James for a word of caution and advice:

"Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you. Your wealth is ruined; your clothes are moth eaten; your silver and gold are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire You stored up treasure in the last days! Look the pay that you withheld from the workers who reaped your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived luxuriously on the land and have indulged yourselves. You have fattened fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned - you have murdered/ the righteous man; he does not resist you" (James 5:1-6)

Watch-out for the characteristics of those who have had life as all "gains". Avoid them otherwise you will also, like the heathens, waste all your gains.

May God bless you and give you the wisdom to manage your gains or pains well and the discernment to know the difference. Happy New Year.

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