To my dear brothers and sisters that I have yet to meet,
I pray that my words bring comfort to you. As the spirit has brought me comfort so may it bring you comfort as well. I want to begin with saying that as we reach the time of the end, our Lord and master Jesus Christ forewarned us that not all would or should be called brothers, and our enemies would be those closest to us (Matthew 10: 35-37). Many of us are destined to lose those we love and those we call friends. Separations are painful, especially for sheep like ones. We have such a desire for peace, but when we have exhausted all options to keep peace (Romans 12:18) it may be time to consider that the separation may be of divine origin and not a failure on your part. Not all separations are bad; in fact some are necessary and are a reflection of God’s love for the body of Christ.
Jesus our mentor was not saddened by his father’s impending separation work, in fact he welcomed it, longed for it, he said at Luke 12:49 "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But why would the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6) welcome the destruction of peace instead of preserving it? It was and is God’s will that a separation work take place as predicted in Genesis 3:15. In Matthew 25:31–46 God has determined that a separation between sheep and goats will occur and in 1 Peter 4:17 we are reminded that the work of separation will begin in God’s house first.
There are times where it is easier to tell than others, when we need to part ways with certain individuals. Take for example the case of Jacob and his father in law Laban (Genesis 28-32:1-3). Many of us are familiar with the account of Jacob and Laban in Genesis, if you are not the account is well worth the read. Laban (Jacob’s father in law) routinely exploited Jacob, often looking to his own advantage in his dealings with Jacob, despite Jacobs’s loyalty. Laban recognized that Gods spirit was with Jacob, and actively sought ways to exploit Jacob and by extension God’s blessings. Despite Laban’s intentions, God protected and blessed Jacob until it became apparent, that Laban and his sons became covetous of what God had rightfully given Jacob, and Jacob decided that it was best that they part ways.
Notice in Genesis 31:1-2 how the peace between Jacob and Laban’s family was no longer maintained and Jacob began to notice things about Laban that may not have been apparent to him before. There are times where God no longer ensures peace in a situation, and we may see things in people character that was not apparent to us previously. God sees into the hearts of everyone, but he may wait until situations arise that expose to you, what God has known all along.
In verse 3 of Genesis chapter 31, God spoke to Jacob and instructed Jacob to return to his homeland, and more importantly, that he (God) would be with him. After discussing the situation with his wives, Jacob made plans to leave Laban’s home and return to the land of his father.
When Laban returned to his home, finding Jacob and his household gone, this did not sit well with Laban. Laban was confronted with the reality that the wealth he had, and the wealth he thought he had was not the same. Jacobs departure exposed to Laban just how much of a blessing that Jacob had been to his household.
Laban was not content to allow Jacob to leave of his own free will, Jacob was the preverbal goose that laid the golden eggs, and chased Jacob for seven days. In verse 24, God again comes to Jacobs’s defense warning Laban not to do anything to Jacob good or bad. Laban’s attitude reflected a profound lack of appreciation for spiritual things, not only does he disregard God’s council, he threatens Jacob with what he could have done in verse 29 prompting Jacob to defend himself against Jacobs spurious accusations and fraudulent dealings with him. If it were not apparent why Laban chased Jacob down, it was not because he wanted to send him off with well wishes and feasting as two men of God should have parted ways. Rather, Laban claims in verse 43 that Jacobs’s wives, children, and flocks belonged to him and he was powerless. In this instance he even includes God in his imaginary victimhood as though he had been treated unfairly. The account concludes with what could be considered a final act of craftiness on Laban’s part. Laban suggests a peace treaty (that would protect him from his dishonesty toward Jacob in the future) with his defrauded son in law, Jacob who is no longer in his house and under his authority. Please remember that God strictly instructed Laban to do no good or evil toward Jacob, and had Jacob known this, Jacob’s response might have been different.
There are so many lessons to glean here including the fact that God cared not only about Jacob, but the company he kept. God tolerated Laban’s exploitation until Jacob had reached a state of prosperity and spiritual maturity that it was no longer to Jacobs benefit (or Gods purpose for Jacob) that he continue to be exploited by his own uncle. God had plans for Jacob and his household that would ultimately lead to the glorification of his name and the redemption of mankind through the birth of the messiah in the future.
Our individual work in the Lord may take us to places that we may not expect, but God will always bless you wherever you go when you put his interests first. As vessels and tools of the living God, is it wrong for God to also move us where he can press his advantage, where we will do the most good and bring the most glory to his name? When our work with certain individuals or groups ceases to be of benefit to God, and also you as an individual, God is always within his rights to act in our mutual interest, to build up the body of Christ.
Please remember friends that even Jesus is obedient to God in this matter as God “CUTS” away (or separates) Christ from individuals who do not bear fruit so that the resources can be directed to areas that will bear fruit. God’s love of us is so deep that he will also prune us so that we (like Christ) will bear even more fruit (John 15:1-3). God knows that these situations are sometimes painful for us, for our love of our brothers is deep even when it is not reciprocated. In these situations, like Laban those cut away might behave covetous of the blessings and gifts you take with you, believing that these blessings belong to them. They may threaten you, assail your character, or like Laban make some attempt to get you to agree to maintain some relationship with them that is not designed to benefit you, but them. Like Laban who only appreciated physical things and did not appreciate spiritual things, they are neither obedient to the leanings of the spirit, (and often times so spiritually immature), and can only bitterly equate your departure with personal loss when they see God’s blessings depart with you.
When we are confronted with the reality that we can no longer walk the same path with those we call brothers and sisters, and even family members, let us keep in mind that we all live for the glory of God, and where he moves us is not only to our benefit, but it benefits the body of Christ. Let us all be obedient, and remember that separation is not condemnation in all cases. The scriptures tell us that God also will separate sheep from sheep, so continue to pray for one another, as the glory of God is worked out through our collective obedience and service to God.
With the warmest of regards,
Your faithful Diakonos (Romans 8:38-39)