This past weekend we had a unified effort for fundraiser for one of our church families. The event was a very successful occasion of helping financially and ministering to this family with a big group hug. But I was left with a question in my mind, “What happens next?” Let me explain the basis of that question. Throughout my ministry, especially in my time at New Durham Chapel, many times when we have had a very positive ministry or outreach event there has been a strong negative blow back in some area. This has given rise to the principle I have developed called “The law of unintended consequences”. The law of unintended consequences states that for every action there is a reaction (usually negative) and that reaction is generally dispropriate to the original action. In simpler terms it is the idea that “no good deed shall go unpunished”. Let me illustrate this law and then show how and why Satan uses our good deeds to sow seeds of discord and disunity among the brethren.
Very early on in my first pastorate in Western Pa. a family in our community experienced a devastating house fire. The family had 2 young boys and one of the boys was seriously injured. The family was part of one of the local area churches. We had in those days a very tight knit ministerial group. The pastors were able to rally our churches together to first collect money and then to pool our resources to help rebuild a house for this family, as they had little or no insurance of their own. It was an amazing thing to see God’s work in this project and to be part of a wonderful demonstration of God’s grace before our community. But it didn’t take long before the devil got into the situation and caused lots of disunity and division.
The family’s home church had been handling the fundraising and using the resources as the needs arose. Well the family who the churches were building the new home for came to feel that another area church was doing more for them then their own home church was doing. They weren’t happy with some of the financial decisions that had been made and ended up leaving their home church to join the other church. This than led to a contentious argument between the 2 churches over the finances that had been collected for this family and who should be responsible for the financial decisions and administration.
Do you see how the devil works through the law of unintended consequences to sow seeds of discord even when we are doing the most noble of deeds? The devil hates unity in the body of Christ. He works through our flesh by creating distorted thinking patterns and by leading us to misunderstand other people’s words and actions. Satan hates it when Christians work together in a unified cause for the glory of God. It’s profoundly important for us to recognize that even in our most noble deeds of service Satan is sitting on the sidelines waiting for the opportunity to accuse and devour. Remember Peter’s warning from the 5th chapter of his first letter when he said “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (v. 8 NIV).
The importance of being vigilant of Satan’s scheme is to know Satan wants to steal our energy for serving Christ and loving one another. The Holy Spirit works by creating positive energy flow in our service for Christ. Satan works by draining our energy with disagreements, petty resentments and self-centered thinking that stops the Holy Spirit from working. This is why it’s so important for us to remember that God has a greater plan than what He’s doing in our lives or even in our own church. In the 13th chapter of Zechariah the prophet makes an interesting statement that has been applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. We read “If someone asks him, “What are these wounds on your body?” he will answer, “The wounds I was given at the house of my friends” (v.6, NIV). Sometimes when people say mean and stupid things to us or about us when we are about serving the Lord we just need to remember Jesus was treated the same way. But despite that treatment He continued to love and care for those who misunderstood and misrepresented Him. Let us seek to avoid petty disagreements or mean spirited comments that rob us and others of the joy of serving Jesus and doing that which is pleasing to Him. Let us continue to be a channel through which the Holy Spirit can move and work. All praise to our great Savior, Jesus Christ.
All for Christ, Pastor Rich Sivo