2 Kings 1:15 The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.
You would think that Elijah had no reason to fear, but the army captain had every reason to fear Elijah, and he knew it. My initial response is to feel sorry for the first two companies of men who came to get Elijah, but as I was thinking that, the Lord pointed out to me that we suffer the fate of the one we serve. That’s a principle that gets too little attention. That actually is why people wind up in hell, which was never created for them. It was created as a destination for Satan, but those who serve him, either spirits or humans, join him there. We are rightly concerned about “collateral damage” in war, but some of what we think of that way is actually just an expression of this principle. That’s not to be heartless, but it is to look deeper than the headlines. Whom we serve is not just the ultimate question of life, but of eternity. God wants us to serve Him out of love, but serving Him out of fear is far better than not serving Him at all. The biggest risk in serving God out of fear is that of serving Him externally while rebelling against Him internally. He sees and knows, and it is our hearts that matter most. The thing is, if we serve God in sincerity our motive quickly becomes love, whatever it was to begin with, because we discover who He really is and what He is like. His absolute holiness should inspire fear, but His grace and mercy, properly received, will certainly inspire gratitude and love.
I had a time when I thought I was serving God but actually was serving the devil. God in His mercy opened my eyes to what I was doing, and my gratitude is very real. As a pastor, particularly one serving in Japan, my task is to help people first understand the principle of following your lord, and then helping them see who they are following. Japanese history should be useful in understanding the principle of allegiance to a lord, but the difficulty is in helping them see they are following the devil. Even Americans, with the Bible in their culture, have trouble admitting that. I must remember that it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not my job, to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8-11) That said, I must not shy away from letting Him speak through me, even at the risk of people not liking me or rejecting me outright. Their salvation is far more important than my popularity!
Father, I’ll confess to soft-pedaling the message at times, not because You were saying to do so but out of a desire to be liked. Forgive me. Help me always speak Your truth in love, however it is perceived, so that people’s eyes may be opened and they may choose to follow You rather than the devil, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!