May 31, 2020
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church May 31, 2020
Church Service Notes
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 4:1-3
This morning we’re going to be in Ecclesiastes 4:1-3. Next week we will continue our series on the Ten Commandments. The book speaks to the realities of life which is sometimes difficult and hard. Our passage reflects on people who have been oppressed and suffered injustices. It says there’s no comfort or hope for those people on earth. It says the dead are better off because they don’t have to face the oppression anymore and those who have never been born are even better off because they haven’t experienced the wickedness. These verses aren’t the most pleasant to read. They seem hopeless in a way. The year of 2020 has been a difficult year with threats of wars, a global pandemic causing many deaths and overwhelming hospitals, a collapsed economy, and political tensions. This past week, we all learned the name of George Floyd—a man who was being arrested and died as a policeman held him to the ground with his knee. Tensions arose and rioting began. The news media constantly shows horrific images of destruction done in the aftermath of this tragedy. People have been killed in the protests. For a lot of us, it causes fear and trouble.
History tells us that the injustices that are happening today are not new. My research shows every decade for over 100 years has experienced injustice and mass rioting for different reasons. Riots have started because of political issues, power outages, racial relations, war, natural disasters, and sporting events. The death of George Floyd is not the first time we’ve had unjust killings. Ecclesiastes shows injustices were happening over thousands of year ago. There are all kinds of injustices: when police officers use excessive force and kill people, when criminals kill police officers, when a person gets killed because there’s a police raid at the wrong address, when criminals kill by drive-by shootings and gang initiations kill random people, abortion murders huge numbers of people. Injustices destroy people’s homes, businesses, and communities. It troubles and hurts us when there are injustices. Injustices impact the lives of all colors and backgrounds.
Injustice raises questions: “Why is this still happening? What has to change? Why can’t there be comfort?” But this is reality and the world we live in. It’s happened for decades, and I believe it will continue to happen. The reality is the world that we live in is full of people and all the people who are alive do wrong. As long as there is wrongdoing, there will be turmoil. We won’t have peace among people because we are all imperfect. People believe if we have the right person as president or mayor or governor, it would stop. It does not matter who or what political party is in charge; we’ve had injustice under democrats and republicans. A president has no ability to change people’s hearts. Some people say the answer is getting the education system fixed. That’s not the answer. There are people of varying educations who are caught up in this riot—on both sides. The education system is not going to solve all of our problems. The school systems cannot govern morals through education. People say it’s a poverty issue, but Jesus says poverty will always be with us. Rich and poor are impacted by injustices. None of these human things matter because they depend on humans who will do wrong. People commit wrongs and it creates suffering.
So we have these verses in Ecclesiastes of no comfort and we witness the unending injustice. But these verses are only a small part of the Bible. They are a necessary part and they point out to us that injustices happen and will continue to happen. We have to learn to live with this truth and being fearful, distraught, or crippled by anxiety or fear won’t change the truths. The reality is we will all experience this trouble as stated in John 16:33. Jesus knows the world we live in is going to be full of troubles, tribulation, injustices, heartache, and evil. God sees everything and knows all the trouble in this world but in John 16:33 Jesus says we can have peace and cheer because He has overcome the world. We want justice for all the wrongs we witness – Jesus gave His life for those wrongs and overcomes the problem of evil. Jesus died on the cross for all wrongdoing by all people. Then He was put in the grave and three days later He rose again. We can have hope in the resurrection and this is salvation! Jesus Christ will change the direction of people lives away from continual wrongdoing to righteousness. Moses started as a murderer, unjustly taking the life of another before God changed his life. David was a murderous adulterer unjustly taking a man’s wife and having the man killed, but God forgave and restored David. Zacchaeus was a greedy person who stole money from everyone and then He met Jesus and gave everything back plus more. Saul was a murderer of “church people” then Jesus Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus and Saul becomes a great missionary. If we’re looking for people to change, the only way it happens is by Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, there will always be people doing wrong and hate will always be in this world as not everyone will surrender to Jesus. It may be discomforting or fearful to know evil will persist. But Jesus delivers us from the evil too. If you remember Joseph, he was thrown in the pit and sold into slavery but God delivered him from that. What people meant for evil, God used for good. God saved Lot and his family when brimstone and fire was rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah. Daniel was taken captive, sent to a different country, and thrown in the lions’ den but God saved Daniel and shut the mouths of the lions. Jesus says this world will continue in trouble but you can have the hope of the Lord. You’ll have a promise that when your life ends in this world, you’ll be in the presence of the Lord where there is no trouble and that’s our hope! Church, we know this to be true. We know Jesus is the Savior of the world. We have got to share that with people. We are supposed to be loving people and sharing this message of hope with people. Tell people about Jesus Christ because we all need hope.
Scripture: James 4:17
The original plan was to do this last week but with Memorial Day we did not have Sunday services. God’s timeliness is just amazing. I think this scripture is very complimentary to what we studied this morning. James speaks to what Christians should be doing in a world full of turmoil. When James wrote his letter, the church had come under severe persecution. People had been put to death because of their faith in Jesus. People had been arrested. As a result of the great persecution, the church had left Jerusalem. James writes this letter to people who are scattered and are facing life amid turmoil and strife. James 4:17 says if you know something is good to do and you choose not to do it, it’s a sin.
I want to look at two ways we can find ourselves knowing what is good and choose not to do it. The first is when we’ve been taught how to be obedient to the Lord but we do the opposite. This reminds me of an earlier verse in James, when James said the person who reads the Word of God and doesn’t do it, is like a person who looks in the mirror and forgets what he looks like. If you look back at what we’ve studied in the book of James, we’ve read “Submit yourself to God”. If we choose not to do that, we’re doing the opposite of a good thing. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we submitting to God? Are we surrendering to Him? Are we doing His works on earth?” Those are the ways we submit to the Lord. The Bible says in James, “Resist the devil”. There’s something good we’re told to do. You may ask, “How do I resist the devil?” Are you allowing yourself to be tempted and playing around with things we know are not good. Are we looking at things we shouldn’t online? Are we dabbling in addiction? Are we toying with these things? Some things are obviously evil but we choose to justify and not resist. When we do that, we are not doing a good thing. James says, “Draw near to God”. Are you drawing near to God? Are you trying to get to know God more? James tells us to humble ourselves and to not speak evil to one another. If we’re doing these things, James 4:17 tells us we’re sinning. James warns about boasting about our own plans and says to commit our plans to the Father’s will. If we’re not committing our plans to the world, that’s a good thing we’re not doing and therefore, we are sinning. It’s a simple truth for us to apply but we make it so difficult.
The second application I want us to consider is when we see an opportunity to do good and choose to do nothing. That’s a sinful thing too. This is something we’ve got to be watchful of in our lives. Jesus gives us a great example of what this looks like in Luke 10:30-37 with the account of the Good Samaritan. There’s a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho on a treacherous path. Thieves assault and rob the man, causing him bodily injury and leave him on the side of the road. A priest, the religious leader of the day, sees the man and does nothing. Then a Levite, a man of a tribe chosen to be the keepers of the temple, comes by, looks at the man, and passes by on the other side of the road. Both the priest and Levite do nothing. They don’t do good when they had the opportunity. They sinned. A Samaritan – a group of people that the Jewish people despised – saw the Jewish man and had compassion on him. The crowd Jesus is speaking to would have considered the Samaritan as the most likely to not help the man, but we see the Samaritan feeling compassion. The Samaritan acts on that compassion and addresses the medical needs of the man. He takes the man to an inn and pays the innkeeper to care for the man. He saw a need to do good and acted on it. Jesus says at the end of the story that we are to go and do likewise.
When we see people in need and choose to ignore it, that’s knowing when to do good and doing nothing. That’s a sin according to James 4:17. We have to examine our lives to see if we are doing good to help others. The world is full of people who need help and when we help we change lives and can influence future generations. There are Good Samaritan laws in the legal system today. The Samaritan’s Purse is a charitable organization that takes its name from this story. There’s a hospital called The Good Samaritan Hospital. Think about the legacy of this good Samaritan. In comparison consider the priest and the Levite’s influence – it doesn’t exist. These are “church people” who should have helped have no influence or impact. Whereas, the impact of the Samaritan’s good act is felt thousands years later. This is the power of good works, of good deeds in the lives of others.
Why did the priest and Levite decide to not help and sin? The Bible does not tell us. Maybe they were busy, or running late for church, or their family expected them at a certain time, or they’re fearful the thieves are going to attack them, or they thought it was hopeless. Is this what we do today? Are these same thoughts used to excuse our own inactions? We can’t underestimate the influence of the good we do. We can’t underestimate the harm it causes when we know what is good to do and choose not to do it. What does that mean for the person we’re leaving on the side of the road? What does that say to the people looking at the church and seeing the Christians ignoring the people who need help? What does it say to our children and grandchildren when they see us as adults not doing good? What kind of example are we setting?
It’s a big deal when we know what is good and choose not to do it. It’s a big deal when we do the good things. God’s Word tells us what is good. Micah 6:8 says God has shown us what is good—justice, mercy, and walking humbly with God. Romans 12:18 says as far as it is in your control to leave peacefully with all men. Promoting peace is a good thing. Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers. We shouldn’t be stirring up strife. We should be peacemakers. Something we’ve looked at earlier in James 1:27 says pure religion is to help those that are in need in their time of need and help them and to stay away from sin. These are the good things we ought to be doing. We don’t have an excuse for not knowing what is good to do. The Bible tells us.
Where do you begin to do good? Begin with what is in front of you. One church or person can’t solve all the world’s problems. But we have to start doing good where the need is in front of us and be faithful to do it. As other opportunities come where we can address needs, we need to address them. Look for those opportunities to do good. Whatever opportunity you see, have compassion and do what is good.
In Christ’s Love,