May 22

Job 8-11, Psalm 137

A couple of years ago, I asked my pastor, Pastor Lloyd Pulley, what he does when he is asked to preside over the services of a funeral for someone who has shown no evidence of accepting Christ as Savior prior to death. He said that if he doesn't know the person well he speaks to the family to gather some positive aspects concerning the life of the individual (dedicated father, loving son, etc.), and uses this during his message to comfort those in attendance. He then goes on and presents the Gospel message to offer hope and the means for salvation to all those gathered. Growing up in Brooklyn and having attended multiple funerals, the priest presiding over the funeral would universally state that the deceased was in a better place, usually the only criteria being that they were baptized Catholic. They could have been an atheist, a wife beater, a convicted felon, etc, but none of that mattered. These statement falsely lead people to believe that belonging to the right denomination or club is more important than having a genuine relationship with Christ. These statements keep many from seeking Christ as their personal Savior. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church do the exact opposite. They are known for their inflammatory hateful comments especially as they would place themselves opposite the church where the services were being held for one of our fallen members of the military. Screaming and holding signs condemning them they would stand and shout their hurtful comments.

We read in Job 8:1-4, "Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said: "How long will you speak these things, And the words of your mouth be like a strong wind? Does God subvert judgment? Or does the Almighty pervert justice? If your sons have sinned against Him, He has cast them away for their transgression." Besides calling Job a windbag, he heartlessly tells Job that his seven sons that died in chapter one got what they deserved. We have all encountered loved ones and acquaintances who have died as the result of their own sin. Would we condemn to ones family a fallen drug addict? Would we tell the family members of a loved one who died from lung cancer if he/she was a smoker that they had what was coming to them? Hopefully, never! We read the words from Zophar the Naamathite in Job 11:2-3, also calling him a windbag full of words, "Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be vindicated? Should your empty talk make men hold their peace? And when you mock, should no one rebuke you?"

We may not be able to control many of our circumstances, but we can control our attitude. We who are full of the Holy Spirit possess the fruits of the Spirit as recorded in Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Job's friends answered him harshly, may the same not be said of us. In Ephesians 4:15, we are commanded to speak the truth in love. When we consider how our sinless Savior did not come to condemn others but came to offer both hope and love, isn't this the model that we should emulate? This does not mean that we overlook sin or brush it away, that was never Jesus' way. But like Pastor Lloyd does at funeral services, may we always be loving and kind and always be prepared to present the Gospel message to any who will listen. God has placed in the heart of every believer the only true message of love and hope. May we not hold back, but be forthcoming with this loving message.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster