If I were to ask you to list some of the most popular Christians throughout human history, who would be on your list? Maybe some people from the Bible, such as Paul, Moses or David. Or perhaps you would think of some in the past few hundred years, such as Charles Spurgeon, Hudson Taylor or Ann Judson. However, for every one of those more popular saints, there has been hundreds and thousands of individuals who worked behind the scenes and accomplished great things for the cause of Christ.
Our reading this morning brings us to a list of Christians that would fit this description. In Romans 16, Paul takes the time to list and mention brothers and sisters in Christ that were a blessing to him. His description of these men and women only prove to show his admiration for them: “my beloved”, “my kinsmen”, “my helpers”. These are folks that were a help to Paul in his ministry, no doubt a help that if it had not been there would have severely hurt the effectiveness of Paul’s ministry. Perhaps some of these folks were encouragers or prayer warriors while others may have been blessed with the ability to help Paul financially.
What about us? No doubt very few if any of us will attain the Christian “status” of a D.L Moody or a Oswald Chambers. But God still calls us to be faithful where we are at doing what we are called to do. Whether it be a faithful Sunday School teacher who prayers for his or her students daily or a greeter who welcomes people every Sunday with a smile. God sees, God knows, and God will reward in eternity. I wonder if in heaven some of the well-known preachers of our day will lose some of their fame and popularity while God rewards faithful preachers whose congregation never experienced the same kind of dynamic growth and numbers but who instead just remained faithful where God had them for as long as He wanted them there. After all, in the end, it is “God that giveth in the increase”. (1 Cor.3:6)
“I need that donut!”
I think quietly to myself as my mouth begins to salivate. The truth is, as my mom used to say, “You need that like you need a hole in your head.” We are prone to dupe ourselves into believing a lie. David knew all about self-deceit. He had been tortured by its grip long enough and there was plenty of damage which was evidence of how cut-throat deception can be.
The term David uses is “guile” (Psalm 32:2), and for the next few verses, he begins to peel back the mask of his self-deception to reveal the true person. He describes “when I kept silence, my bones waxed old…thy hand was heavy upon me, and my moisture was turned to drought.” He was one step away from death and his foot was on a banana peel! He realized he would either take this to the grave or let God take it to the cross. He came clean. He acknowledged his sin to God. The result was the transfusion of ice in his veins with the warmth of blessedness.
“Blessed is the man…in whose spirit there is no guile.”
This word guile is inextricably tied to another person in Scripture—Jacob. He came with subtilty (Genesis 27:35 uses the same root word) and swindled the birthright from Esau. Even when God came to Jacob in Bethel, he pretended everything was okay. He played his own version of “Let’s Make a Deal” with God refusing to come clean during God’s invitation. Only after Jacob was the victim of similar shenanigans when Laban switched the bride on him (Genesis 29:25 again uses the same root word here), was Jacob about ready to come clean. Finally, as he wrestled with God, he admitted, “I am Jacob.” In effect, I am the deceiver.
“Blessed is the man in whose spirit there is no guile.”
Jacob does receive a blessing from God. Pure in motive and honest in self-image, this was the noble identification of God’s people (John 1:47; Revelation 14:5). Decide to throw yourself upon the mercy of God without guile. Do not pretend any longer. Recognize that we are all sinners, and hopefully, you are a sinner saved by grace.