Spontaneous Moral Originality

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Devotional Word for Friday, May 15, 2020

Yesterday we looked at Proverbs 25:11, the verse about apples of gold in settings of silver. That image represented how beautiful and how valuable are right words spoken at the right time. I promised to give you some examples today, and to do so under the rubric of Spontaneous Moral Originality, a phrase coined by Oswald Chambers. What Oswald meant is one needs to be led by the Holy Spirit in the daily activities of life. We each have our “normal” way of doing things. But being led by the Holy Spirit means that He is free to intrude into our lives and lead us according to His purposes. We do want to be led by the Holy Spirit. We do not want to trust in our own wisdom and strength. He will guide us. He will give us the right word at the right time. It will be a beautiful thing! Let me give you some examples.

The first one is very familiar to everyone, even those who are not familiar with the Bible. It is found in 1 Kings 3. Two women living in the same house give birth to babies at about the same time. One woman’s child dies during the night because she lay on him. She switches her dead baby for the live baby. The other mother figures out what happened, though the original woman denies it. The case is taken to Solomon, who is the new king in Israel. After hearing their stories, and with each woman still claiming the living child as her child, Solomon speaks the right word for the circumstance: Get me a sword . . . divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other. [1 Kings 3:24-25] What happens, of course, is the mother of the living child can’t bear that thought and says to give the child to the other woman. Solomon then says, Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother. [1 Kings 3:27] That was a good word, a beautiful word, exactly right for the circumstances. When Solomon awakened that morning, he had no clue such a case would come before him. The Holy Spirit, though, inspired him to speak with spontaneous moral originality. 

Soon after the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Peter and John were on their way to the temple to pray. They had done this many times previously. Along the way there were always plenty of beggars. But this day Peter would speak with spontaneous moral originality. He would say something he hadn’t said before, something he isn’t recorded as ever saying again. Here’s what Peter said and did as described in Acts 3: When [the beggar] saw Peter and John . . . he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And [the beggar] began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver or gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – walk!” And seizing [the beggar] by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately [the beggar’s] feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and [the beggar] entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. [Acts 3:3-8] Peter’s words that day were better than gold and silver for the beggar. His life was changed forever, by that right word at the right time spoken by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Spontaneous moral originality.

This is the year 2020. Eighty years ago, it was the year 1940. The Nazi regime was rolling victoriously throughout Europe. Hitler had his eyes fixed on England next. In the second week of May the King of England asked Winston Churchill to become Prime Minister. He accepted. By June, the Nazis were on the coast of France, seemingly ready to cross the English Channel and storm through England. It was an unprecedented circumstance. In that moment, a time like no other, Churchill gave a speech that was the right word for that time. He laid out the situation to the British people in the starkest terms. Then he said, We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be. That was the right word, the good word for the time. He ended his speech with these memorable, golden words: We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. In those dark days Churchill spoke with spontaneous moral originality. God used Winston Churchill to rally England, and the rest of the western world. Churchill’s words were gold and silver mined and refined. They are beautiful.

But we are not Solomon or Peter or Winston Churchill. We’re just regular folk going about our business. Nonetheless, God can and does give us right words for the right time; sometimes we know it, sometimes we don’t. In 2003 I met with a man in his 50s, an unmarried man. During our conversation I said to him, “There’s a widow in our congregation whom you might like to meet.” He did meet her. They were married in June of 2004. Ever since then, he reminds me of how grateful he is for the words I spoke to him that day in 2003. I had no clue what would come from those words. But God did. And for Bill those words were like an apple of gold in settings of silver. It turned out to be an instance of spontaneous moral originality.

As we end this week, let’s purpose to lift our souls to the Lord, ask Him to show us His ways and teach us His paths, and ask Him to speak to us and through us for His glory. 

Let’s pray: Almighty God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – we come with thanksgiving before You. Thank You for working Your will in us and through us. We want to be faithful servants and instruments of Yours. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our heart, be acceptable in Your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.