Article... Peer Pressure -- An Empty Fist
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To youths of all ages, whether 9 or 90:
Job did not do anything to deserve having to suffer the trials that he suffered. Yet, everything he had, from riches to loved ones, was instantly taken from him. Rather than deny God’s sovereign will for his life, he was a witness to, and a prayer warrior for, his friends. The Lord honored that in Job by not only replacing what he’d lost, but in giving him an increase worth far more than what he’d had prior to his trials.
God, Himself, told Satan to have a go at Job, just not to take his life. He gave Satan permission to do whatever he wanted to do to Job! Why would God do such a thing? Why would God let Satan mess with someone who served Him? One might think that God forsook Job. But the underlying message is that God had a plan all along that neither Satan nor Job was able to see beforehand. And it was a plan that worked out in Job’s favor, though Job had to suffer tremendously.
All Satan saw this as was the opportunity of a lifetime. He was going to do what he loves to do most... watch people suffer and get back at God for kicking him out of his heavenly seat in the first place. What Satan never stopped to consider was that God never loses control. He knew Job’s heart. He knew how Job would react. And He knew that Job’s story would be written in the Word for thousands of generations to learn from. The Lord had a plan. And, my friend, when the Lord plans something, HE DOES NOT FAIL.
Job was angry. He didn’t want to live anymore. “What am I here for? It would be better were I never born.” He saw death as a reward and cursed the day his mother gave birth to him. But Job never cursed God as Satan had suggested that he would... not even when his own wife told him "Curse God and die."
It took Job a long time to learn what he needed to learn before he came to a place of living in God’s favor again. And when he thought he could stand no more, his body was suddenly covered in huge boils. Our trials certainly start to seem small when we look at them in the light of Job’s life.
Sooner or later, Job had to come to the point of COMPLETE TRUST in the Lord. And that’s the way it is with us. We can fail the same trial over and over again. We can live in disobedience to the Lord and give in to peer pressure for five seconds or fifty years. But the moment we come to the point Job came to, we open our lives for the blessings of God to be poured out on us. Until we come to that point, however, we will continue to suffer the same trials, the same pressures, and having Satan toy with our lives to the same extent.
I know Job’s story all too well. At this point in my life, I am about 3/4 of the way through LIVING Job’s story. I am in the time period between having passed that test and finding God’s favor. For the time being, I live by grace, thankful for every morsel of blessings that come my way. But I could have saved myself years of pain and loss if I had learned my lesson years earlier and never given in to peer pressure.
Do I still have to deal with peer pressure? Of course I do! I have to deal with it all the time. Only now, the pressure is not so “pressuring.” I am not so tempted. See, like Job, I learned the hard way. I have nothing left except my faith. I suppose I could still go through being covered in boils. But, thankfully, God didn’t find it necessary for me to have to suffer that.
We can go through it for years, my friend. Or we can stand up, insist on obedience to God alone, be a witness to our friends even when we suffer, and not prolong the inevitable plan of the Most High... to walk in His will for us and COMPLETELY TRUST HIM with our lives.
The Lord recently led me to show a Christian brother of mine something about His blessings. I am not sure what this guy is going through or why God felt it necessary for me to tell him what I did. I just trusted in God and stepped out in obedience. I’m sure the Lord will give him whatever revelation he needs from it. But the same idea holds true for those of us who might be dealing with peer pressure -- a temptation that is presented to us as something colorful and without consequence. And, most of the time, we take the bait without realizing that it is no blessing. It is only a matter of our own wills, our own decisions to choose between the blessings of God and the pressures of our peers.
I presented my brother in Christ with a penny. His face read surprise and disappointment at the same time; “A penny?” Then I gave him a nickel, a dime, and a quarter, one at a time. His little blessings were steadily increasing in value. Then I held my closed fist out again for him to receive something. When he opened his hand underneath mine, I opened my fist to drop nothing into his hand. Then I reached into my pocket and pulled out a hundred dollar bill. I stuck it out there for him. Slightly different from his reaction to the penny, his face showed pleasant surprise. When he reached out for the money however, I withdrew it and told him, “Sorry, but you can’t have my tithes.”
No matter the size, value, or color of the metal it is made from, they all say the exact same thing; “In God we trust.” When we TRUST HIM COMPLETELY, we begin to see His favor in our lives and our blessings steadily increase in value. The empty hand that I held over his was not a blessing. It was a temptation that appeared to be something colorful and without consequence. Of course, this is only a slight representation. The consequence here was wasted energy from holding a hand out for nothing and disappointment for what was not received as promised by the closed fist. The coins were blessings. The empty fist was peer pressure. “You’ve got to know, no matter their value, where your blessings come from!”
The lesson behind the big bill is even harder to learn. It was almost cruel of me to get him exited by the idea of being blessed with that large bill only to take it back. Job had a wife, kids, crops, and livestock. They were big, big blessings. Job was pretty well off financially and blessed with a loving family. He had the “big bill.” Then he woke up one day and, surprise, it was all gone. We have to learn that God has in store for us even bigger blessings if we have the faith to believe they’re out there for us without us being able to see them at the moment. But we cannot get into that place of “bigger bills” until He has our COMPLETE TRUST.
Believe with everything you have in you, in COMPLETE TRUST, that God has big, big blessings in store for you. The sooner we learn the wiles of peer pressure, regardless of our age, the sooner we will be presented with “bigger bills.” You can choose to take the pressure today, only to find an empty fist, or you can choose to TRUST God that He’s got better things out there for you if you will but pass up the temptation to give in to peer pressure.
Let me end by saying that peer pressure is not necessarily the temptation to give in to alcohol, drugs, or sex. Those things are just the most common forms we know of. Peer pressure includes anything whatsoever that appears to be something good or fun and does not come from God. Peer pressure is plain and simply temptation. It is a desire of the flesh, no matter what the desire may be. It might include financial riches, fame or just “fitting in” -- popularity, or anything else that fulfills our selfish wills. But God is so good to us, so merciful, so graceful, that if we give Him our COMPLETE TRUST, He will most certainly bless us beyond what we THOUGHT was good for us.
© Joyce Pool 07/05/04
Proverbs 3:3-6 KJV Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
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Well done! Thid piece is powerful and thought provoking! Great job! So often we go wrong in our tithes, no matter how small or how large. You are very wise, thank you for sharing!