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Man’s Argument God Can’t Resist

We human beings are so inclined to be involved with ourselves that we are largely disinterested in others. This is a general statement, because there are always those shining souls who are more interested in others than in themselves. But they are in the minority.

There are times, however, when something awakens feelings of kindliness and pity within us, and stirs even the most disinterested among us – in fact, that speaks to all but the most hardened.

I suppose there is one thing more than any other that does this - that is, some great human need.

We hear of large numbers of people starving in the Third World country, and there is an outpouring of financial help for them.

We learn of a family that has lost its home in a fire, and we give generously.

A little girl falls into a well, and every possible effort is made to save her. Someone gets lost and we spend days, at great expense, to find and rescue him - because he is in need. It is that sort of thing to which people respond because it is that sort of thing that tugs at the human heart.

If we who are evil, as Jesus pointed out (Matthew 12:34), are so touched by the needs of humanity at times, how much more may we be assured that the heavenly Father is touched by our needs? If human need is one of the keys that most quickly opens the human heart, how much more quickly will it open God's infinitely tender heart of limitless love and compassion?

In heaven's sight, the most obvious thing about you and me is our great need - a need that encompasses every aspect of life; a need especially to be saved from sin and its effects.

All mankind has this need. Often we do not know the reason for the great yearning cry that wells up in our souls; we know not how to interpret. It is the soul's inarticulate supplication to God in its need. Many of us try to deny this sense of heart need, to ignore it, to mask it with a show of self-sufficiency. But like the waves of the ocean in the still of the night, when the cacophony of day is done, at times its awareness comes surging, wave upon wave, across our consciousness.

This need of ours is the whole reason for Jesus' great humiliation and sacrifice. Because of His vast constraint to save men from sin and its effects and eventual death, He took upon Himself the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross (Philippians 1:6-8). It was all done because of our need - yours and mine. And so you and I have an argument God cannot resist any more than a devoted parent can resist the need of a child in sickness, hunger, hurt. It is the argument of our need. “Our great need is our only claim on God's mercy…

We have nothing to recommend us to God; but the plea that we may argue now and ever is our utterly helpless condition that makes His redeeming power a necessity. Renouncing all self-dependence, we may look to the cross of Calvary and say, “In my hand no price I bring; Simply to thy cross I cling.”

“God rejoices to bestow His grace upon us,” writes the same author, “not because we are worthy, but because we are so unworthy. Our only claim to His mercy is our great need.”

So with the psalmist we may cry out, “May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need” (Psalm 70:8, NIV).

But we may offer that prayer acceptably only as we feel and admit our need.

At this point we come face to face with one of the most tragic, stubborn facts of human nature. We have heard of people who were sick, but who were too proud, too stubborn, too sure of their own ideas of what needed to be done, to go to a doctor and to admit their vulnerability, their need. And by the time they finally gave in, because of their worsening condition, it was too late. The disease had gone too far.

Recently a doctor told me of a patient who found she had breast cancer. When it was discovered, it was small, and, with proper treatment, had an 80 percent chance of a cure. But she had her own ideas of how the problem should be treated. While she was pursuing her ideas, the cancer kept on growing. Then she began to have pain, which persuaded her to let her doctor treat her. Under this treatment the cancer began to shrink, and the pain to diminish. But it was too late. The malignancy had metastasized to the spine, and the woman died.

It has been said that the most grievous and costly mistakes, whether in medicine, law, or business, are not clinical or technical, but personal and emotional. They don't originate in incompetence or ignorance, which are intellectual, but from stubbornness, vanity, self-esteem, and pride, which are moral and emotional defects. We humans often have an inward reserve, a strange stubbornness, a suffocating willfulness, a foolish vanity, a strange rebelliousness, which keeps us from admitting our need. So we have this bizarre situation, that while Jesus would help us in our need of salvation from sin, so many of us spurn Him, even when we are dying.

An experience of the Israelites in the wilderness of Edom illustrates this. The story is recorded in Numbers 21. Bitten by deadly snakes, many were dying from the venom. God told Moses to make a snake of brass, elevate it on a pole and to instruct the dying ones to simply look at the metal serpent, and they would recover. But there were those who would not exercise faith. They would not believe that in their need they could merely look and be healed. And so they died. Those who looked, lived.

My friend Philip relates a personal experience which illustrates our senseless defiance in rebuffing Jesus. As a student at a Bible college, he was required to spend time weekly with a small prayer group. He attended, but never prayed. He was full of doubt and skepticism, and had come to the place where he didn't even believe in Jesus.

Then one evening he surprised the others, and even himself, by praying. As he prayed, unaccountably he began to refer to the Good Samaritan. And then, he writes, “It happened.” He had been mentally visualizing the scene as he spoke. But then it became for him more than mental visualization. He seemed to be seeing the event. He saw the victim, wounded, bleeding, lying in the dust. And he saw the Samaritan approach, get off his donkey, bend over the man, and begin to stanch the flow of blood. He observed more closely, and saw that the Samaritan was really Jesus. Then he looked at the victim, helpless in the dust. And as he did so, the face changed. And it became his own. It was he himself -wounded, bleeding, helpless, in his desperate need - whom the Savior was helping.

Then he saw himself purse his lips – and deliberately spit full in the face of Jesus.

For Philip the visualization faded right there. That was all. But you and I are going to take it a bit further in our imagination.

The “Samaritan,” Jesus, slowly wipes the spittle from His face. Then, as though nothing has happened, He tenderly continues to apply the cloth to stanch the still-flowing blood. He poured on “oil and wine,” as the Bible account tells us. Then He “set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” That picture isn't just of Philip. So many of us have been robbed and beaten by life and cast, helpless and despairing, in the dust. And Jesus bends over us in love, to heal, to care for our wounds. But we, in our foolish pride and strange defiance, sometimes metaphorically spit in His face. But because of His compassion, He wipes His face, as it were, and goes on with His ministration to us. He keeps on loving us with a love that will never let go.

“Christ's love for His children is as tender as it is strong. And it is stronger than death; for he died to purchase our salvation, and to make us one with Him, mystically and eternally. So strong is His love that it controls all His powers, and employs the vast resources of heaven in doing His people good. It is without variableness or shadow of turning - the same yesterday, today, and forever. Although sin has existed for ages, trying to counteract this love and obstruct its flowing earthwards, it still flows in rich currents to those for whom Christ died.”

Early in Philip’s ministry he pastored a small flock that needed a church building. Money was at a premium, so we took it upon ourselves to do as much of the work as possible. But because the few members had to work to make a living, our team had to do quite a bit of the building.

At the time, we had two small pre-school children, a boy and a girl. And because finding someone to babysit all the time was difficult, we often had them with us as we built. They would play together inside or around the building.

The cold months would soon come. Philip’s team kept on working long hours because we needed to begin meeting in the church by Christmas. Then it began to get cold, but the building was not yet advanced enough to have the heating installed. It was especially cold for the children because they were not as active as my wife and I were.

One day our little girl complained, “I have a pain in my tummy.”

We asked some questions, and concluded it was nothing serious.

During the next few days, she complained again occasionally. But we were preoccupied with what we were doing, and did not take it very seriously.

Then our boy began to complain of the same “pain in the tummy.”

This jolted us out of our preoccupation and made us realize we could have something here that needed attention. And we began to notice that our little girl was showing symptoms indicating that something serious could be the matter.

When the doctor examined our children he ordered them to the hospital at once. Both of them had pneumonia. Our little girl was within one day of her crisis.

For the next few days there were two parents who were very anxious about their children, especially about the little girl, because her life was in the balance. In times like that our love goes out in a special way toward our suffering dear ones.

From that experience, we understood a little better God's love and concern for us.

We have all been sick, very sick, with sin, and our eternal destinies are in the balance, whether we realize it or not. And the compassionate heart of Jesus goes out in anxious love to you and me in our need. He wants to heal us of our sins, to forgive us of our disobedience, to tune our hearts to pulse in harmony with His. And he wants to give us a strength to meet and overcome all temptations, and a peace and security that nothing on earth can give, or take away.

Because of your need He wants to do all of those things for you. His willingness to help is as open as the skies.

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