The Way Up May Be Down

The Way Up May Be Down
Bayless Conley

It is not unusual for God's promotion to look like a demotion at first, to feel like you are going backward rather than forward.

There are a couple of great examples of this in the Bible. For instance, do you remember how Joseph in Genesis 37 dreamt he would one day rule over his brothers? That God was going to promote him to a place of prominence?

So what happened? His brothers threw him into a pit, he was sold to Midianite traders as a slave, and then he was put on the auction block and sold again in Egypt. On top of that, he ended up in prison on false charges and spent several years there, seemingly forgotten.

But without those experiences, Joseph would have never been ready to rule. Preparation comes before promotion. The way up may go down for awhile at first.

David is another example of how God will "demote" in order to promote. Do you remember in 1 Samuel 16:12-13 how David was anointed king while still just a shepherd?

Now he [David] was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

This is a pretty big promotion for a shepherd boy, don't you think? But for years, David lived a fugitive's life—moving from place to place, living in caves, being hunted. He was separated from everyone and all the things that he loved.

His promotion ended up looking more like a demotion, which is often the way God works. In the process of your promotion, He will take you through difficult times to prepare you for that promotion.

Just remember, the way up is often down.

Visit the Answers with Bayless Conley website for more ways to Connect with God

God the Deliverer
by Tony Evans

Repeatedly throughout the scripture, God has revealed Himself as a defender and deliverer. The Exodus out of Egypt dramatically portrays God's execution of biblical justice on behalf of a group of people who were oppressed. Later, when God gave His laws to Israel, He reminded them of His deliverance. He said, "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:21).

God regularly tied either a presence, or an absence, of biblical justice to a presence, or absence, of His blessing. For example, Israel's worship was rejected because of an absence of justice in society (Amos 5:21-24). The Israelites were taken into captivity and held in bondage because of their rebellion against God. God had repeatedly told them to turn from their sin and practice "justice and righteousness," pay back what was stolen, and secure every pledge (Ezekiel 33:10-20).

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as another example, is often attributed to the blatant practice of homosexuality; however, God clearly links His wrath toward them to their lack of concern for the poor (Ezekiel 16:49).

The prophets of the Old Testament regularly condemned people for their social injustices as well. These condemnations were not merely viewed as secular affronts to communities, but also a spiritual affront to God (Zechariah 7:9-12). God's people were specifically instructed to seek the welfare of the secular city in which they were living and to pray for its well-being so that it would become a better place to live, work, and raise their families (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

Therefore, the role of the church, as a participant in God's socio-political kingdom and as His bride, is to execute divine justice on behalf of the defenseless, poor, and oppressed. Scripture relates biblical justice to these groups as a primary concern because it is these groups that most represent the helpless in society and bear the brunt of injustices.

The church is not to mistreat the poor (James 2:15-16), or to have class and racial prejudice (Galatians 2:11-14). Rather, the church is commissioned to meet the physical needs of the "have-nots" within it. Note, this is not to be confused with subsidizing irresponsibility, which the Bible strictly prohibits (2 Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 6:9-11; 10:4; 13:18; 24:30-34). Even in the biblical practice of gleaning -- which was leaving behind portions of a harvest for the benefit of the poor who collect it -- the poor needed to exercise responsibility in accessing what had been left behind. The amount of work that was put forth resulted in the amount of food that was obtained.

The Bible is clear on spiritual ministry and social responsibility working hand-in-hand. When the two are properly connected and integrated, people become productive citizens of society while also becoming prepared for life in eternity.

Excerpt from Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans (Moody Publishers). Watch Tony Evans this week on LIFE Today as he discusses issues of race, religion, and the nation.


Rather suffer an injustice than commit one.

There is no greather opportunity to influence our fellowman for Christ than to respond with love when we have been unmistakably wronged. Then the difference between Christian love and the values of the world are most brilliantly evident. James Dobson

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Martin Luther King

If the Christian tries to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, he should also join in the fight against social injustice and political oppression. John R.W. Stott

Everytime that there arises from the depths of a human heart the childish cry which Christ himself could not restrain, "Why am I being hurt?" then there is certainly injustice. Simone Weil

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