There was much murmuring among the people concerning him.
There was division among the people because of him.
“Deliver us from people”, so prayed the little boy as the Lord’s Prayer was being intoned. Deliverance from evil did not seem so intelligible to his boyish mind as did deliverance from people. We are compassed throughout our entire life-span by people who distress and harass us – the bully on the school playground, the rival for school prizes, the competitor in business, the jealous rival who slanders us and those troublers who distress us in our later years.
The Bible is a book full of difficult situations caused by people. From the first pages of Scripture we read of troublesome human contacts. Abel feels the jealousy of Cain. Ham’s irreverence shocks Shem and Shapheth. Abraham’s servants quarrel with those of Lot; Hagar troubles Abram’s household. Jacob and Esau, twin-brothers, quarrel over the birthright. Rachel and Leah have distressing differences. Hannah prays about her adversary who talks arrogantly. David lives a life as an exile because of a jealous king.
In the New Testament we have similar stories of difficult relationships. The elder brother by his pettiness spoils the glad feast day. The first disciples vie with one another for the highest seat. Judas strikes a note of discord among the disciples nearest to Christ. Ananias and Saphira introduce deceit and avarice into the purity of the primitive Church. Elymas, the sorcerer, diverts Paul’s new convert. Barnabas differs with Paul over John and Mark. Diotrophes prates against John and sulkily refuses to receive certain fellow-Christians. What a book of human relationships.
But we ask the question: Why should people so mar an otherwise perfect situation? It is because of God’s purpose to polish and perfect His saints. He must use other people to do this. When a lapidary wishes to enhance the beauty of the rough diamond, he finds it so hard that only diamond dust can be used to grind and perfect the angular, awkward protrusions of the gem. The process, causing many facets to reflect the light in so many different hues and from so many different angles, will increase the value of that precious stone beyond our comprehension.
God is likewise shaping and polishing His own children. The most ungrateful, unlovely character we must rub against will shape the beautiful facet of ‘love.’
That strained and tense legalist who annoys us, will shape another facet – ‘joy’.
That obstinate person who disagrees with all we say and do is useful in perfecting the facet of ‘peace’.
‘Longsuffering is being carefully shaped in us by close proximity with that persistent grumbler and complainer.
‘Gentleness’ is being gained by our tolerance of the forward and bold; ‘meekness’ with the overbearing; ‘goodness’ with the evil, selfish man who over-reaches us and takes advantage of our refusal to pamper ourselves.
‘Faith’ is formed as we are forced to listen to the chronic pessimist who prophesies failure for every venture.
‘Temperance’ is slowly fashioned as we ask for ‘forbearance’ with the extreme eccentric.
‘Patience’ glows in beauty as we are obliged to partner the sluggish, the slow and the dull when we long to get on with the job.
Everything depends upon the attitude with which we accept these rubbings. Let us lie still under the lapidary’s skilful finishing processes.
THEY ARE GOD’S DIAMOND DUST USED TO ENHANCE OUR WORTH.
‘Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us’. [Psalm 90:17]
‘He will beautify the meek’. [Psalm 149:4].
Royal Purposes – E.F. & L. Harvey