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TUESDAY — Don’t let your “but” get in the way!
Big Point: We cannot let excuses keep us from standing up for our faith.
The “Bystander Effect”
In group situations people do not tend to feel personal responsibility to act. However, whenever one person does decide to take action in a situation, others usually act as well.
In March 1964, Kitty Genovese arrived home in the early hours of the morning and was stabbed repeatedly by an attacker. Her screams were heard by her neighbors, yet no one came to her aid. Kitty’s attacker left, yet came back to savagely stab and sexually assault her until finally killing her with a fatal wound on his third and final separate attack. Yet, not one of Kitty’s neighbors came to her aid until after she was dead.
When the police conducted interviews, 38 individuals admitted to hearing Kitty’s chilling screams for help and they all admit to not coming to her aid. Lots of excuses were given: they feared for their own safety, they worried their English wouldn’t be understood when talking to the police and one heartless person merely said: “I was tired.”
Kitty’s murder sparked new psychological research into what is now called the Genovese Syndrome or “Bystander Effect.” It’s so easy for us to just try to “go with the flow” or maintain status quo in our relationships at home or work. Being an “Undercover Christian” means that we can look like everyone else in the crowd. However, we never know who might be inspired to live out his or her faith just by watching us being courageous enough to live out ours.
READ…What does the Bible say?
Numbers 13:27-28 (New Living Translation)
27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!
Matthew 9:36-38 (New Living Translation)
36 When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
THINK…Find the answers
Read Numbers 13:27-28. Circle the word “But” in verse 28. What was the attitude in the first part of the verse versus the attitude in the second part of the verse? What were the differences between how Caleb and Joshua reported the situation versus how the other 10 explorers interpreted the situation?
In Matthew 9:36-38, Jesus was traveling to town after town preaching the gospel and pointed out the need for disciples to carry the gospel messages to those who were lost and hurting. Why is it so important to have “workers” who are willing to stand up for their faith and reach out to others? Why does Jesus say there are so few workers?
LIVE…What will you do now?
Whenever we sense God calling us to take a stand for our faith, the word “but” can often get in our way, causing us to delay in being obedient. Choosing to stand with God doesn’t always require a large crowd as a witness, only your resolve to obey. In what area of your spiritual life do you need to follow God more courageously?
Can you think of some steps that would be involved in your decision to follow God with great courage in a particular area of your life? List those steps below:
PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Hopefully, you were able to reflect on any “buts” in your life that have kept you from courageously living out your faith. If you are ready, tell God that you are ready and willing to demonstrate courage in that area of your faith. If you aren’t ready, ask God to keep reminding you of His faithfulness until you are ready.
DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Exodus 29-32
29:20 Daubing blood on the right ear, hand, and big toe symbolically sanctified the ear to hear the Word of God, the hand to do the work of God, and the foot to walk in the way of God.
29:45 “I will dwell…” That He would be their God and they would be His people was one thing; but that He would also dwell with them was a very important reality in the experience of the new nation.
30:18-21 “bronze basin…” The washing of hands and feet was mandatory before engaging in priestly duties. Again, the seriousness of being ceremonially purified is seen in the warning of death if this washing is neglected. Nothing casual was being done in the sanctuary or out in the courtyard.
30:22-33 Nothing was left to chance or to human ingenuity. The ingredients for making the anointing oil were carefully spelled out. Using anything different was totally unacceptable and brought with it the penalty of death.
32:1 “make us gods…” The Israelites, in a time of panic or impatience, succumbed to a pagan worldview. What made it more alarming was the rapidity with which pagan idolatry swept in despite recent, real-life demonstrations of God’s greatness and goodness toward them.
32:4 “a molded calf…” The young bull, which Aaron caused to be fashioned, was a pagan religious symbol of virile power. In worshiping the calf, the Israelites violated the first three commandments.
32:7 “your people…” In alerting Moses to the trouble in the camp, God designated Israel as Moses’ people, a change of possessive pronoun Moses could not have missed. Beforehand, God had acknowledged them as “My people.”
32:19 “broke them…” Moses pictured the nation breaking God’s commandments by actually breaking the tablets on which they were written.