Today's Search the Scriptures covered Isaiah 5:22.
"...Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away justice from the righteous man!"
I didn't think much of this--okay, the Israelite princes were irresponsible drunken bums who played drinking games all day instead of governing their suffering city. Nothing much in common with me, either the drinking or the governing. I could judge them comfortably from a safe distance.
What I didn't realize was, the real focus wasn't on the drinking; it was on what the drinking replaced.
Search the Scriptures' prompt was disarming: rephrase the 'Woes' in this passage in 20th-century terms.
For verse 22, I ended up with this:
Those who use their strength, talent, and/or ability for frivolous, damaging pursuits that gratify themselves, but which hurt rather than help others.
These men could have been strong, mighty, in such a different way than the satirical way Isaiah condemned them in. Leaders who could have given their people hope and comfort and security and order. Leaders who could have fought for justice, been inspirations, caused reforms.
They were meant to 'serve their generation', as David had, with the strength and ability and resources God had blessed them with. Instead, they added to the corruption. At a time when they were most needed, they were happily entrenched in endless, aimless partying that hurt both themselves and the people they were responsible for.
I had to look at myself, even without Search the Scriptures prompting me with an 'application question'.
I've done this. I'm guilty. God has given me my own small share of abilities, resources, strength--because He intends me to serve my generation with them, in my own small way.
What have I been doing with these gifts?
Playing (my equivalent of) drinking games?
I think so.
Frivolous, damaging pursuits to gratify myself. I'm afraid I can think of many; ranging from the actually sinful to the not-wrong-in-itself-but-not-useful-or-helpful, and its fine-line relatives, the not-actually-wrong-in-itself-but-not-something-worth-spending-so-much-of-my-life-on's. Things which I do mainly because I just feel like it and it's so easy to lapse into doing. Things which seldom actually benefit me, and more often hurt myself. Things which are comparatively worthless but replace the genuinely worthwhile things I was meant to do and should have done.
Perhaps it's more comprehensive than that even.
Perhaps God has blessed you with a natural knack of making friends, getting on well with others, influencing them. Maybe you're using this gift mainly to boost your self-esteem, feeling good because you can make people like you, because you feel you have so many friends/admirers, taking advantage of it to manipulate others or pick only the people who appeal to you for your friends...
Drinking games, again!
In this light, there are many areas--too many--of my life that need to be reviewed.
I need to look at myself whenever I come across sinners in the Bible--to realize that I too am no better. But also, that I too can find grace and forgiveness with Christ--and with Him, the power to change.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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