Be careful! A regular refrain that comes out of a parent’s mouth. That warning lacks punch without an accompanying illustrative story. A cautionary tale will get a child to think twice before engaging in a risky activity. “I wouldn’t do that; do you know what happened to Jimmy when he did that?”
Last Sunday we finished the first chapter of Acts as we continued in our new sermon series: Kingdom Builders”. It is interesting to consider that there may be a cautionary tale embedded in the opening chapter. At the very beginning of the book (v.8) Luke reports how the marching orders that King Jesus gave his followers was to be his witnesses. The direction for the rest of the book was set in that; we can expect to see the disciples going out and being witnesses for Jesus.
Later in the opening chapter Luke records the horrible details of what happened to Judas Iscariot (vs.16-19). Why would God inspire Luke to include this? Could it be that God is providing us with a cautionary tale of one who was anything but faithful to Jesus. God is warning his people not to take our relationship with Jesus lightly or let love of the world distort our thinking.
Life is not lived in a vacuum. We need to recognize that we are in a daily spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12). If we are not vigilante then we are letting our guard down against the Enemy of our souls. Repeatedly in Scripture we are warned to stand firm (active action) lest we fall (i.e. Col.1:23, Eph.6:11, Heb.3:14, Eph.6:13). Just as Judas’ position (Acts 1:17) had not meant that he was above temptation, so those in leadership positions today need to remember that no one is safe from the temptation of the evil one. No position guarantees success. So, what measures do you have in place to ensure that you stand firm in your faith and will be a faithful witness for Jesus?
Once in a while we need a cautionary tale to keep us on the straight and narrow. We will get those on occasion throughout our time in Acts. However, in contrast, we can look forward to many inspirational stories in Acts that will give us hope and encouragement of the incredible Kingdom fruit God can bear through us if we are faithful witnesses.