By David Stahl

The longer we go with the LORD the more we will discover (we do not find things in God we discover them) there is a very fine line we must walk between the world and the LORD.  I do not know about you my friend, but I seem to cross the line over into the world more often than I would like to admit.  I see myself time and time again getting over in areas and habits (I think in my understanding) not pleasing to the LORD, but it seems I cannot help myself. Too often I find myself snared by American politics and the social issues of the day, with the global politics and issues of the world, and even politics and issues of our local community. And issues of my character, well that will probably be the topic of many articles for the years to come.  Now there is a line we must straddle and never cross over while we find ourselves in this world. The Bibles teaches us we are not of this world we are strangers (just passing through), this earth is not our home, but at the same time seemingly we are assaulted with every human emotion and desire (no matter how much God has worked in our lives) known to man. Now to be honest this walking the line is a most difficult thing to do.  I know God is not setting us up for failure because in God there is no failure. On one hand we are to share the Gospel message while we stand clear of the other hand, the world and all that is in it. The reward for not standing clear is evident we will not be able to do the things God has called us to do and we never will be able to come to the completion God has purposed in our lives.  What to do? We see this spiritual dichotomy play out in the Scripture time and time again. In 1 Samuel we read, The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.”  (1 Samuel 2:6-7)  At the same time “The LORD killeth, and maketh alive,” “he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up,” and “he bringeth low and lifteth up.”  Please notice the progression is being brought down to be brought up.  This is God’s pattern of advancement down to go up because the way up is down.  In the Gospel of John we read of this dichotomy, “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”  (John 12:23-25) Here the spiritual progression is down to fall into the ground and die so that we can lose our life “in this world” and then find our life “unto life eternal.” Amazingly, God provides for life while He seeks a certain death for Christians. The purpose of God is to bring the individual into a spiritual death to self. This is the only way He can bring His fullness of life into us.  Death is sought!  God brought the Israelites (Exodus 15:23) to a place where there was no water. They traveled three days into the Wilderness of Shur and found no water. “This is a death trap,” they screamed.  Indeed it is death (the cross) to the carnal man in order that the spiritual man may find his release in God. Water is good it is a necessity.  What is wrong with having water?  Yet God brought His people to a place of no water.  Why does God often withhold the good?  Because many Believers have never seen God as the good.  Many Believers only see that which they want or need as the good.  Sadly often Believers will see that which God provides as the good. Seemingly that which pleasantly affects the Believer’s life is always good. It is impossible for God to fulfill Himself in an individual who has filled himself with good things. James must have understood this when he wrote, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  (James 4:3) Thus it is often necessary for God to remove some things and in some cases everything from a Believer in order that He may become everything to the Believer, again this dichotomy in action. As long as there is water (or things we want) we do not mind serving God.  As long as God showers us with obvious spiritual and physical blessings we are zealous to serve Him.  We love water we do not like to be thirsty.  So here we stand wanting our own way, wanting what we want when we want it and our flesh just screams to live, but we know we must die spiritually (and maybe physically) so that the LORD can live through us. In Matthew Jesus tells us, Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:13-16) When are we the salt of the earth? When are we a light in darkness?  At what point do we qualify for these titles?  At our conversion to the LORD or maybe after years and years of walking with Him?  I would think both at the same time and as we walk that fine line not straying into the world.  The more we stray into the world the less of God is in us.  The more we go after greater and greater technology, the Hollywood glamour of TV celebrities and music, sports idols, and the social ways of the world the less of God will be in us. John tells us, “Love not this world nor the things in it.” (John 2:15) Oh how I see myself at times loving the world maybe not in word, but often in deed knowing not to do or say something, but in the end I find myself doing it anyway. Oh our character! God is so concerned about our character even more than our ability to share the Gospel, money we give to further the Gospel, or going after a closer relationship with Him. Our intention should never be an emotional experience with God, but a knowledge and understanding of Him.  Now all of these are admirable, but when it is all boiled down what is left is our obedience to Him and His word. The more we can pull our hearts out of this world and all of its distractions the more effective we will be for God serving as salt and light in this world.  And God’s idea of us being salt and light in the world is so that we can help God bring people out of darkness and into the light whereby they too can “glorify your Father which is in heaven” is by evangelism and not by dead traditions of men, Sunday morning rituals, pious well-meaning religion, nor by denominations, but through one-on-one evangelism telling your family and relatives, neighbors, and even friends at work what Jesus Christ has done in your life and how much they too need Him in theirs, by “speaking the truth in love” as Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:15. A few days ago Vinnie “a good New York Catholic boy” and contractor for Lowes came by our home to do a measurement on replacing one main door and installing two storm doors, well we hit it off right from the start.  I could see the love of the LORD in him as he smartly worked and as we talked. I could see a depth of understanding and knowledge gained by once walking in the musical world of New York City, but now projecting the love of God in a most appealing way through honesty, sincerity, and a personal example. Before he left he handed me a newsletter his wife Karen wrote to their large family and in it I read these words quoted from St. Edith Stein who died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz, Poland, “Do not accept anything as truth if it lacks love.  And do not accept anything as love if it lacks truth. One without the other becomes a destructive lie.”  How profound.  I am sure both ladies have paid the price for these words and have learned them out from heartache and loss. We must always “speak the truth in love” no matter the cost if not then our brand of truth (our revelation and understanding of God) is not God’s truth. This line we must walk at times can get blurred, but if we have a heart for God in the end He will bring to us clarity for our soul. This was the case with King Solomon.  No greater books in the Bible speak more to us about being careful (to take heed) to walk that fine line between the world and God’s will and ways for our lives than the Books of the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  To me these books are red neon flags on how to live our lives; time and time again Solomon said do this or do that, be careful (take heed) of this type of person, this life-style, this kind of heart condition, but in the end we find Solomon did not listen to his own words.  They could be stated from Solomon’s perspective; do as I say not as I do. Sadly Solomon got off the line and too far over into the world and it turned his heart from God and in the end Solomon’s testimony was, “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. 9And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs10The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written wasupright, even words of truth.  11The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. 12And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:8-12)  In the end Solomon “set in order many proverbs” in other words Solomon became what he said.  This enabled him to be able to say, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)  Is this not true?  Is not the conclusion of all things, especially all things in our lives, what Solomon called our “whole duty” is to “fear God and keep his commandments.”  If we can do these two things we will be more than able to stay on track, walk in His ways, and stay far right of the line.