Don't Just Stand There!

Ezekiel 22:30

"Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee
."

Some years ago, I read of a Naval officer who told the story of the time
when all the ship's company were parading on the deck,
and all the other watchers were performing some duty except one officer
who was still waiting for orders.
There was a shout from the bridge: "Don't just stand there, do something!"

This is good advice for every Christian.
As Christians, we are called to action.
We should be doing something for our Lord and Saviour.

The Bible is the history of God in action among men, and God doing things to save men.
When God is in action, He usually calls upon some individual act with Him and for Him,
and for His sake to "do something."
The Bible contains the history of utterly frustrating circumstances,
of human failure and helplessness, and then, God raises up somebody
to lead His people out of their desperate situation.

When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, and were building great cities for the Pharaoh,
God raised up Moses who told Pharaoh: "Let my people go!"

When Moses died, Joshua, another man of action, is ready to take his place.
He was trained to be the successor of Moses.

In the period which follows, we see that over and over Israel is conquered
by some alien people (often permitted as a punishment for their unfaithfulness
to the One True God), and God raises up a succession of men and women like Deborah.

First there were the judges, Othniel, Ehud, Shangar, Barak, Gideon, Jephtah, Samuel.
They were followed by the kings, Saul and David, and later the prophets,
Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

Finally, the state of Israel is such that God says through Ezekiel:
"I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach
before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none
."
(Ezekiel 22:30)

Earlier there had been the kings, Josiah and Hezekiah, who had called their people back
to repentance, and to a pure worship of the Lord God; but now there was nobody.
The entire Old Testament seems to be one of God looking for men
who are prepared to give themselves unreservedly to Him to serve Him.

The God of the Bible is a God who does things.
He is a God of action.
He speaks.
He creates.
He acts.
He intervenes.
He shakes the nations.
He touches the mountains, and they smoke.
He rules with a rod of iron.
His pathway is in the whirlwind and in the storm and the clouds of the dust of His feet.
He acts powerfully and appropriately and graciously and irresistibly in justice and in judgment.

When men encounter the God of the Ages, they fall on their faces.
Fear and awe are automatic reactions of men when they meet God.
All the superlatives that Paul can muster cannot adequately express the might
and the strength and the power and the dynamic power of Almighty God.

When we meet this God of action, we are immediately challenged to act and to move
on His command.
We fall down before Him, and we say, "Lord, take my hands… take my feet,
… use me to serve you."

God's people initiates things.
It may be Martin Luther nailing his theses to a door in Wittenberg,.
It may be Raikes starting the first Sunday school.
It may be William Booth starting out to preach in the slums.
It may be Hudson Taylor praying on the beach at Brighton.
All these Christian men were men of action.
They started something for God, and God blessed them; and gave them great victories.

Two men were being burned at the stake in what is now Broad Street, Oxford.
They must have been conscious of their own great weakness and insignificance
as they faced their enemies.
Latimer says, "Be of good cheer, Master Ridley,… we show this day, by God's grace,
might light such a torch in England as (I trust) will never be put out
."

This and many other attempts have been made to snuff out that candle
in the English Church, but it still burns today.

We need that same motivation to start something for God today.
We must give our hands and feet to the Lord to become those who initiate
some work for Him in our community.

God is looking for those who will take action to right the wrongs in our society.
When Nahash, the Ammonite, threatened to humiliate the men of Jabesh,
they sent messengers to King Saul who was then filled with indignation,
and the Holy Spirit came mightily upon him.
And Israel rallied to him as one man.

He promised relief before the sun was up, and that meant a night March along the Arabah,
the great volcanic rift-valley through which the Jordan runs.
It was a man of action who rallied his people to right a wrong.

When the church is only a spectator rather than taking an active role,
and when it stops being the church militant, it becomes the church giving in and giving up.
It is no wonder that there are times when it seemed dull.
It is dull.

The church needs a revival.
The church needs to return to the Word of God so that it's conscience will again be quickened,
and that there may be a holy indignation burning within it.
Too often, the church seems to be operating on the status quo.
Too often, it seems that the church feels no need to spread the biblical message,
and to address the sins and shortcomings of our world.
We need to return to the essential biblical content of that message
that God has commanded us to give to the world.

The church needs to take action to overcome hatred and misunderstanding.

Much secular action involves working up hatred against the "other side."
So much hatred exists in our world.
There is so much bitterness and resentment in our world among diverse people.
Injustice and unfair treatment seems to be the norm.
Many people have a suspicious, critical attitude of others,
and that is met with corresponding suspicion.

Like David in the affair of Churlish Nabal (1 Samuel 25), his sword is girded on his thigh,
and he means to use it.
Nabal had insulted him, and also was ungrateful for all the help that he had received.

But the intelligent and beautiful Abigail had the sense to realize the folly
of what her husband had done, and her prompt act of conciliation, apology,
and explanation not only saved the lives of her husband, but also of her household.
It also kept David back from taking vengeance into his own hands,
and besmirching his own name.

In 1 Samuel 26, Saul has come with 3,000 men to capture David.
David was a great guerrilla leader and with the support of Abishai, he infiltrates
the camp of Saul in the night.
He sneaks right up beside Saul who was sleeping.

He takes Saul's spear and his water-jar, but leaves Saul unharmed.
This disgusted Abishai, who regarded it as a providential opportunity
to remove Saul from the scene forever.

Think about David's purpose in drawing attention to their successful and peaceful raid.
This resulted in disturbing the conscience of Saul.
He could have been dead, but he had been spared by the kindness of David
whom he had been following for months seeking to kill him.

By this definite act of mercy to his enemy, David made it hard for Saul to go on hating him.
By returning good for evil, David calmed the hatred of Saul.
We could also say that when David removed his spear, David "disarmed" him.

Christians, we must never avenge ourselves.
We must leave it to the wrath of God.
For it is written, "Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord."
We are also told that "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink…
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
." (Romans 12:19-21)

Christians, we should make a definite point of discovering the needs of the person
who dislikes us, and do something good for him, we show love for him,
for this might destroy the hostility that he has for us.

A Christian is to be a "person of action" in this sense also,
not in seeking to destroy his enemy, but seeking to destroy the enmity,
and by taking positive steps to do something good for him.

Matthew 5:44: "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you…"
Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God."

This is a definite sphere of Christian action.
We are to try to break down the hatred that others may have for us
by giving them friendship and kindness.

There are times when it is good to be cautious and to avoid rash action.
But there is also a danger in that there are times that we do nothing in the belief
that this is spiritual, and that we are waiting for God to act.
We're leaving it up to Him.

But we have already had times that we took revenge, and did not leave that to God.
Even though we have been commanded to take definite steps in order to
show love to the enemy.
Of course this is not easy, but when were we ever promised that it would be.

God has given us standing orders on certain things.
We do not need new instructions to feed our enemies or to pray for those
that despitefully use us.
We do not need some special vision before we go out to make disciples,
and to baptize them and teach them.
God has commanded us to do this, and this is our responsibility "even to the end of the age."
We do not need fresh orders before we do good to all men,
especially to those of the household of faith.

There can be a false quietness on our part, and this is really a form of disobedience.
Saying, "I was waiting to be told" is not spiritual because we have already been told.
It is so clear in the Bible what we are required to do.
It is only when the matter is not clear, that we need to wait on God
to make His will known to us.

"Leaving it to the Lord" can only cover up our indifference and cowardliness.
Our responsibility is clear, we need no further instructions.
We have our orders, and there is no excuse to ignore them.
Every Christian is expected to know, and ignorance is no excuse.

The Bible commands action, and we must be sure that we not only know
what the Lord has commanded of us, but that obey that which we know.

We excuse ourselves so easily.
Moses put up one excuse after another to avoid God's clear commission
which the Lord was giving him.
This we read in Exodus 3 and 4.
"Who am I to go to Pharaoh…?"
"I am not sure how to explain about you to Israel…"
"They will not believe me…"
"I am not eloquent…"
And finally, "Oh, my Lord, send, I pray, some other person."

It's not surprising that we read that the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses,
for here was a man who was calling God, "My Lord", and refusing to obey Him.
He had the promise of God's presence and of God's help, and still,
he was making excuses not to go and do what God had commanded.

Christians, we are also called to act, but too many of us would rather leave it to somebody else.
"Lord, send someone else."

The Bible is a call to action.
We are to give our voice, our hands, and our feet to God for His service.

"His hands and feet and heart, all three,
Were pierced for me on Calvary,
And here and now, to Him I bring
My hands, feet, heart, and offering
."

We must ask ourselves what work are we doing for our Lord Jesus Christ?
Are we waiting for more guidance when the instructions have already been given?
Just what are we actually doing for the Lord?
Is there nothing else that we can do?
Is there anyone who doesn't like me?
Is there nothing that we can do for them?
Have we given up trying because we have failed in the past when we attempted
to do something good for someone?

Christian, think about what you should do:
In your family.
In your neighborhood.
On the job.
In your church.

Are there sick people that you could visit?
Are there lonely older people that you could visit?
Is there something that you can do in your church to serve, to teach, to visit the unsaved?
Are you using your skills and talents in the service of the Lord?

There are so many things where our hands and feet are needed.
So, let us determine -- right now to dedicate ourselves afresh to our great God.

"Mine are the hands to do the work;
My feet shall run for Thee;
My lips shall sound the glorious news:
Lord, here am I, send me
."

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White