Summary: Why do some people misuse their privileges? In this passage, Paul gives a historical survey of how Israel misused, abused and failed to take advantage of their God given privileges.
Illustration:Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be.
"Good enough" becomes today’s watchword and tomorrow’s standard. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course -- downhill. They draw false strength from looking back.
Bits & Pieces, May 28, 1992, p. 15.
1. Why do some people misuse their privileges? In this passage, Paul gives a historical survey of how Israel misused, abused and failed to take advantage of their God given privileges. He exhorts,
"The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and made the people great during their stay in Egypt and with an uplifted arm He led them out from it·
God has fulfilled his promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus·Take heed therefore, so that the things spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you. Behold, you scoffers, and marvel and perish." (Acts 13:17,33,41)
Quote: Failure to take advantages of the privileges offered in Jesus Christ is a recipe for self-destruction.
Application: Through Jesus we receive forgiveness, direction, and fulfillment - apart from Him we can do nothing. Ask the Lord to help you to take full advantage of all the privileges available to you in Christ.
2. Paul shows how the Jews misused their privileges because they failed to look for truth in the right place, the right person and the right book. So many people are missing out on the rich resources found in Christ because they are busy searching for answers where only partial truths can be found.
Application: Ask God to help you avoid seeking after truth in people, places or experiences instead of in the scriptures.
3. Paul explains how the Jews failed to take advantage of their privileges because they misinterpreted the lessons of history.
Example: The children of Israel looked at their cycles in history but failed to learn Godâs central teaching about their need for redemption in Christ. When Jesus appeared to them, they overlooked Him since they were expecting a politically power Messiah who would overthrow their Roman oppressors.
Do not let your faulty preconceived notions cause you to miss out on what God is offering you. Be willing to admit your mistakes or your faulty perceptions.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you correctly interpret lifeâs lessons so you can humbly trust and obey all He wants you to learn.
4. Paul identified the scoffers as men who misapplied lessons taught to them by the prophets. Failure to learn from Godly people leads to an inability to take advantage of the rich reservoir of truth, blessings and guidance available through the Holy Spirit. Surely you do not want to be a blind guide like the Pharisees!
Example: Many of today’s secular teachers and philosophers would be put in the same category. God will not reveal more to us than we are willing to obey.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you learn from many Godly people. You do not want to miss out on all the ways the Spirit wants to bless you.
5. Paul feared for his people so he gave his own life example as one who humbly admitted his mistakes and repented. Failure to utilize Christ’s offer of righteousness, love and forgiveness on a daily basis can make us vulnerable to being worse off than the unbelievers who are miserable and debased.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you follow Paul’s example of humility, repentance and exhortation.
Concluding Illustration: Paul wrote, "You followed my teaching, conduct, patience, love, perservance and faith." (2 Tim. 3:10) Let us learn to be an example to others instead of resting on our laurels, privileges or riches.
Several years ago a young Frenchman captured the attention of the world by walking a tightrope between the towers of New York’s World Trade Center (1350 feet high). A few months later, however, while practicing on a relatively low wire in St. Petersburg, Florida, he fell 30 feet and was injured. As he lay waiting for help, he reportedly beat his fist on the ground saying, "I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it! I never fall!"
Failure to appreciate what we have may lead to complacency that will lead to future failures.