WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
AUGUST 3RD, 2021
TOPIC: THE ENDS DO NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank” (Numbers 20:11 New King James Version).
The normal saying is that the ends justify the means, meaning that what is important is the result, not how it is achieved. The end justifies the means is “used to say that a desired result is so good or important that any method, even a morally bad one, may be used to achieve it” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). The idiom or phrase is “said about a situation in which the final aim is so important that any way of achieving it is acceptable” (Cambridge Dictionary). It is often regarded as a Machiavellian principle.
Unfortunately, this is the philosophy of many people. They believe that the wrongs committed to attain a goal are excusable once the outcome is good. More unfortunate is the fact that some secularized people in the church also adopt this philosophy, which is contrary to the Word of God. The Bible does not teach that the ends justify the means. God is not just interested in your results; He is interested in your methods. He is interested in both the processes and the products.
2 Timothy 2:5 says if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. Paul said he disciplined his body and brought it into subjection, lest, when he had preached to others, he should become disqualified.
Rebekah’s attitude, when she taught Jacob to lie to deceive his father, Isaac, and receive the blessing meant for his brother, Esau, suggested that she believed that the ends justified the means. Even when Jacob told him the father would curse him if he found out the truth, she was more concerned about the ends and not the means.
Genesis 27:13-17 says, “But his mother said to him, ‘Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.’ And he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother made savory food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the choice clothes of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob” (New King James Version).
Although Jacob was successful in deceiving his father and received the blessing meant for his brother, the truth came out and there was a serious problem between the two brothers. Jacob had to flee from home to his uncle’s place, whom he served for many years and he cheated Jacob. Jacob became an accidental polygamist as he married Laban’s two daughters and their maids.
On his journey back home later after many years, he was hunted by his past. Esau would probably have killed him as he had threatened to do in the past if not for God’s intervention. His mother caused all that he went through after he had deceived his father. You cannot use deceit to get the spiritual blessing and hope to enjoy it peacefully.
You cannot use an immoral or sinful method to achieve a noble goal or result and then give the glory to God! Some Christians do this. They go to church to share testimonies, keeping silent or lying about how they achieved their results! God doesn’t want these kinds of testimonies. Don’t glorify Him for the result you achieved in a sinful way. God didn’t do it; you did.
God’s work must be done God’s way. You cannot use the power of the kingdom of darkness to do the work of the kingdom of light and think that on Judgment day, God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23 New King James Version). No, never!
God is interested in the means employed to do His work, not the results that are visible to man. Paul said, “We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have been honest and sincere in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom. That is how we have acted toward everyone, and especially toward you. My letters have been straightforward, and there is nothing written between the lines and nothing you can’t understand. I hope someday you will fully understand us, even if you don’t fully understand us now. Then on the day when our Lord Jesus comes back again, you will be proud of us in the same way we are proud of you” (2 Corinthians 1:12-14 New Living Translation).
Hear the apostle Paul again, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:9-15 New King James Version).
People often say you don’t query results, but God does. Human beings may not bother about how a result is achieved, but God cares about that. He queries results if the processes fail His tests. He queried the result of David, who was carrying the ark of God the wrong way. The ark of God must never be carried in a cart, not even in a new cart as David did (2 Samuel 6:3). It must always be carried by the Levites on their shoulders (1 Chronicles 15:15).
David was succeeding, carrying the ark in a new cart, in a procession from Baalah of Judah (Kiriath-jearim) into Jerusalem, until tragedy struck. Uzzah was killed when he put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, as the oxen stumbled (2 Samuel 6:1-8). If David had carried the ark the proper way, there was no way Uzzah would have touched the ark. He wouldn’t have died as a result of God’s anger.
God didn’t approve of David’s method of transporting the ark, though he made progress moving the ark from where it had been and was on its way to Jerusalem before God stopped the procession. Carrying the ark of God in a new cart was using the method of the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:7-8). It might be right for the Philistines, but it wasn’t right for the Israelites.
David said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order” (1 Chronicles 15:12-13). This second time, the ark was transported to Jerusalem successfully because it was carried the proper way.
The ends do not justify the means. When King Baasha of Israel, a neighbour, came against Judah, Asa entered into a military alliance with Syria, which was worldly wisdom, instead of relying on the LORD (2 Chronicles 16:2-6). God disapproved of his method. Though the treaty worked and Syria successfully helped Judah against Israel, God said Asa had done foolishly and would from then on have wars (verse 9). That was the beginning of Asa’s problem with God and indeed the beginning of his end.
Asa’s method was wrong, and, therefore, his result was wrong. He used Benhadad, king of Syria, to replace God in his life. Early in his reign, he had trusted God against the army of Zerah the Ethiopian. Asa’s army of 580,000 men routed Zerah’s army of one million men and their chariots. Ordinarily, Judah was no match for the Ethiopians. The Ethiopians came against Judah with an army of one million men and three hundred chariots (2 Chronicles 14:8-15).
The Ethiopians were superior. King Asa of Judah admitted this when he told God that it wasn’t a problem for God to help with many or with those who have no power. He trusted God and went in His name against the superior army of the Ethiopians. But God turned the battle against the Ethiopians; the powerful fled before the weak, and the weak pursued the powerful! God gave the victory to Judah.
But in his thirty-sixth year on the throne – he was now an accomplished person; he was now experienced - over 35 years experience! He couldn’t trust God again when Baasha, king of Israel, came up against Judah. If God had protected him and Judah for thirty-five years, Asa should have known better.
Leaders must know the difference between God and man! They shouldn’t pretend to be confused about the two! God is God, and He will forever be God. Leaders shouldn’t put themselves in trouble by trying to replace trust in God with trust in man. It won’t work!
In Numbers 20, the Bible shows that the ends do not justify the means when Moses acted contrary to God’s instruction to speak to the rock to provide water for the Israelites. “Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank” (verse 11 New King James Version).
The end was the water that the Israelites wanted, but God disapproved of the method of Moses and Aaron. Moses said, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Verse 10b New King James Version). In addition, he struck the rock twice. Water came out, the people drank, but God was not pleased. He told Moses and Aaron that because they did not believe Him, to hallow Him in the eyes of the children of Israel, they shall not bring the Israelites into the land He had given them.
A good idea is not necessarily God’s idea. Every child of God, especially leaders, must be careful and always seek the mind of God. Use God-approved methods. Seek God’s approval on measures to take in any situation, especially when the will of God is not revealed in His Word. You should avoid acting under pressure or assuming on God. Don’t act contrary to the Word of God. In your profession, avoid unethical practices. Follow the rules. The ends do not justify the means. The means are more important than the ends.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Forgive me for employing the wrong and sinful means to achieve my goals. I will no longer cheat or engage in fraudulent practices to achieve my goals. Holy Spirit, help me to do God’s work in God’s way. Let me not build with what you have not approved of. My work will endure; it will not be burnt; I will not suffer loss or miss my reward. I will be saved, not as through fire.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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