Learn from Others

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Scripture: For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4 (NKJV)
Observation: Paul is telling us that the entire Old Testament was written to teach us and therefore has lasting, abiding value.  He wants to reminds us that it is God’s word and therefore as relevant to us today as it was to His people back then.  In the devotional Conflict and Courage Ellen White writes:  The lives recorded in the Bible are authentic histories of actual individuals. From Adam down through successive generations to the times of the apostles we have a plain, unvarnished account of what actually occurred and the genuine experience of real characters. It is a subject of wonder to many that inspired history should narrate in the lives of good men facts that tarnish their moral characters. . . . The inspired writers did not testify to falsehoods to prevent the pages of sacred history being clouded by the record of human frailties and faults. . . .
     It is one of the best evidences of the authenticity of the Scriptures that the truth is not glossed over nor the sins of its chief characters suppressed. . . . How many biographies have been written of faultless Christians, who, in their ordinary home life and church relations, shone as examples of immaculate piety. . . . Yet had the pen of inspiration written their histories, how different would they have appeared. There would have been revealed human weaknesses, struggles with selfishness, bigotry, and pride, hidden sins, perhaps, and the continual warfare between the spirit and the flesh. . . . Had our good Bible been written by uninspired persons, it would have presented quite a different appearance and would have been a discouraging study to erring mortals, who are contending with natural frailties and the temptations of a wily foe. But as it is, we have a correct record of the religious experience of marked characters in Bible history. Men whom God favored, and to whom He entrusted great responsibilities, were sometimes overcome by temptation and committed sins, even as we of the present day strive, waver, and frequently fall into error. But it is encouraging to desponding hearts to know that through God’s grace they could gain fresh vigor to again rise above their evil natures; and, remembering this, we are ready to renew the conflict ourselves. {CC 7.4}
Application: Life can be very discouraging at times.  Illness, death, accidents, conflict in marriage or with children, children who leave the church or rebel against parents, etc.  One of the encouraging aspects of the Bible is that in its pages we find stories of people who experience similar situations or at times even worse.  The experience of others may not alleviate our own pain, but knowing others also experience similar challenges helps us know we are not alone.  Adam and Even lost one son at the hands of his brother.  David lost his son Absalom after he rebelled against his father, dethroned him, and even persecuted him.  We read of friends betraying friends, spouses lying to each other or committing adultery, and many more examples of humanity gone wrong.  
     As dark as those passages are, it is somewhat encouraging to know we are not alone in our struggles or in our failures.  However, we should not read in those stories an excuse to fail or permission to sin.  Rather, let us find encouragement in knowing that God still loves in spite of our failures and is willing and ready to help us when we fall and fail and to give us the strength so we may fail again.
A Prayer You May Say: Father God, as we study Your Word daily, may we find help and inspiration from the stories of old, and help us to learn from the lives of Your other children that our own lives, our marriages, and our families may be victorious.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.