By Femi Aribisala
While Moses judged men by their actions, Jesus reveals we shall be judged by our thoughts.
Solomon says: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Therefore, when Femi-Kevin was a little boy, I asked him to memorise one scripture. It was the only scripture I ever told him to cram and it says everything we need to know about God: “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36).
This scripture challenges our faith by the assertion that everything, without exception, is of God. Do you believe that? I know it is hard to believe, but you need to believe it in order to see it plainly. Jesus told the Sadducees: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29). Therefore, let us start with the scriptures and then link them with the power of God.
The position of Romans 11:36 that all things are of God is repeated six times in scripture. The other five times are as follows: “To us there is but one God, the Father, OF WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, BY WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we by him. (1 Corinthians 8:6). “For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but ALL THINGS OF GOD. (1 Corinthians 11:12).
“ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18). “Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who WORKS ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO THE COUNSEL OF HIS OWN WILL.” (Ephesians 1:11). “It became him, FOR WHOM ARE ALL THINGS AND BY WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10).
God is responsible
Let me spell this out so you can see its amazing implications. It means God is responsible for everything. He is responsible for the good, the bad and the ugly. If someone slaps you, know God is behind it. If a Boko Haram suicide bomber kills himself and 80 others, know it is of God. Amos asks rhetorically: “If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it? (Amos 3:6). Yes indeed! If anything good or bad happens, God is behind it.
Armed robbers attacked me and shot me in the leg. Later on, God specifically told me he sent them. He said he orchestrated it because he wanted me to see myself using crutches: “Who gave up Jacob to those who took away his goods, and Israel to his attackers? Did not the Lord? he against whom they did wrong, and in whose ways they would not go, turning away from his teaching.” (Isaiah 42:24).
Therefore, take every injury as being from God and not from men. Don’t be offended at the postman: the offender is the letter-writer. God is the letter writer. Human beings and situations and circumstances are just God’s postmen. Jesus, indeed, is a rock of offense. (1 Peter 2:8). But when and if God offends you, don’t be offended. Jesus says: “Blessed is anyone who is not offended by me!” (Matthew 11:6).
No second causes
According to Jesus, there are no second causes. Nothing happens without God’s permission: “Aren’t two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground. Even the hairs on your head are counted.” (Matthew 10:29-30). Great men pay great attention to big issues. But God pays punctilious attention to even the smallest of things.
Solomon says God determines even the most seemingly random things: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (Proverbs 16:33). Jeremiah insists nothing happens without God’s say-so: “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lamentations 3:37-38).
Job concurs. He asks his doubting wife in the day of calamity: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). God himself confirms this: “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7).
As a matter of fact, God takes issues with those who would limit him, perhaps seeing him as a one-dimensional God: “It shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do evil.’ (Zephaniah 1:12)
Life is at God’s discretion. God did not allow Abimelech to take Sarah, Abraham’s wife. But he allowed David to take Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. He then judged David for this sin. When David understood the supremacy of God, he prayed a remarkable prayer. He said: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14).
In effect, David relinquished the control of his thoughts and his words to God. He did this because he finally recognised that they are all under God’s control in any case. According to scripture, man’s purposes, his determinations, his attitudes, and his thoughts may be controlled by man. However, man’s actions are completely ruled and overruled by God.
Take a look at the following scriptures: “We make our own plans, but the LORD decides where we will go.” (Proverbs 16:9). “We may make a lot of plans, but the LORD will do what he has decided.” (Proverbs 19:21). “A man’s steps are established by the LORD, and the LORD delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23). Even the wrath of man praises God, what does not suit God’s divine purposes he then restrains. (Psalm 76:10).
Indeed, God puts all men under restraint ensuring we are unable to do what we want to do and can only do what God allows or permits. Thus, Joseph’s brothers planned to kill him but God restrained them. The devil wanted to deal with Peter, but Jesus restrained him. (Luke 22:31).
Accordingly, we will not be judged by our actions and inactions. We will be judged by our thoughts, which is where we often reign supreme. God is the God of the heart, and it is our heart (or our thoughts) that determine who we are. Solomon says of man: “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7). But whether he will carry out his thoughts and plans will entirely depend on whether God allows him to do so.
Thus, while Moses judged men by their actions, Jesus reveals we shall be judged by our thoughts: “You have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28).