Gamaliel is noted at the end of Acts 5 speaking to the Jewish leaders who were VERY UPSET by the stories the followers of Jesus were spreading...Jesus was risen and His way of living (and the coming of the Spirit of God at Pentecost) call us to a new way of living, a closer relationship with our Creator, our God. This was VERY revolutionary stuff and the church leaders were "furious and plotting to kill them". Gamaliel reminded them that people claimed to be prophets all the time and, over time, their ideas proved to be dust and their followers scattered. In verses 38 to 39 he said: "I say to you, keep away from those men and let them alone; for if this plan or work is of men, it will come to nothing, but if it is of God you cannot over throw it -- lest you even be found to fight against God." Indeed the plan has proven to be "of God" and those whose political power and earthly wealth were going to be swept away in the centuries since did pay a price for "standing against God."
This seems an important message for me today. Being a passionate person I have much compassion for Peter who, mistaking his own passion for God's lack of power to protect His Son, lopped off the ear of the servant of the High Priest as Jesus' death march gained speed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Those of us dealing with the criminal behavior of a beloved child are often referred to Carol Kent's books as a source of comfort and hope in the face of disaster. She and her incarcerated son tell their story of the son's fear and self-righteousness driving the son to murder someone he believed to be a very dangerous person, so this silly "taking up God's slack" thing tempts us to horrors yet today.
In fact, I think we are all guilty of it at different times, in varying degrees. We tell a lie because we are afraid the truth will cause pain. We make a sin worse by trying to avoid its consequences. We fail to value someone who blesses our life because we are too distracted by the "problem" person. We like to think of ourselves as good, caring people, but in truth we are guilty of stealing what is God's because we don't want to deal with the pain of the situation.
So today I will resolve to let God be God; to Let Go, Let God; to get off my high horse and down on my knees focusing on digging the weeds out of my own garden rather than acting like I know what everyone else needs better than God does.
Please, beloved Father, send Your Spirit to help me fix my focus on growing closer to You rather than judging or manipulating others into what I think is better. Convict me of Your passionate love for those I love, Your utter trustworthiness and power in their lives with no help from me. Keep my mouth shut when my words might wound; make my words sweet as I encourage and let me live my love for You and Your love for All into their lives by my willingness to listen, to forgive, and to seek forgiveness. Make me fearless when I am walking in Your Will and stop me as forcefully as necessary when I pose a danger to those I love. By the Grace of Your Son's sacrifice. AMEN