"Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."
- 1 Kings 19:18 NIV
These comforting words were spoken by God to the great prophet, Elijah. At the time, Elijah was feeling sorry for himself and lamenting the fact that he was the only one left in Israel who was true to God. The Lord sets the prophet straight by reassuring him that a faithful remnant still exists in the land, and Elijah is not alone.
I often hear from believers who are feeling downhearted and discouraged because of all the people around them who profess to be Christians, but who are living carnal, worldly lives. If you're one of these faithful ones, I have some encouraging news for you today. Just like there existed a faithful remnant in Elijah's time, there exists one today. The apostle Paul writes about it in Romans 11:2-5, where he says: "So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace." (v. 5)
Even though we are not alone in serving the Lord faithfully, we will FEEL alone sometimes. That's when we need to heed some practical advice from the Bible so that we won't lose heart or be tempted to backslide. The author of Hebrews writes: "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV) If we don't keep our eyes on the Lord, and if we let our eyes shift to focusing on other believers--especially carnal ones--we can risk becoming doubtful and discouraged. That's exactly what the enemy of our souls, Satan, wants. He will parade all kinds of Christians before us who are living sloppy lives. And he will try to convince us that the Christian life is simply too hard, and that God is expecting too much from us. Yes, it's true that trying to live a Christlike life can be hard. But those of us who have learned the hard way could attest to the fact that living our lives apart from Christ is even harder. Besides that, God has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can follow Jesus and become more like Him each day, as we devote ourselves to Him and His Word.
You may feel like you're the only believer who is suffering and feeling depressed right now, but you are not. I know exactly how you feel. And I'm urging you, in the words of the apostle Peter, to "remember that Christians all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are." (1 Peter 5:9 NLT) You are not alone in this fight. Countless other faithful believers are standing alongside of you, and I'm one of them. As Paul instructed the believers of his day: "Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, just as I do, and as Christ's soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in worldly affairs, for then you cannot satisfy the One who has enlisted you in His army." (2 Timothy 2:3-4 TLB) Remember this--if you focus on the misdeeds of other Christians, you will live a life of frustration and mediocrity, and you will never be able to do much for God. But if you will keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, you will live a life of excellence and abundance, reaping earthly and heavenly blessings that are reserved exclusively for God's most faithful ones!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I've gotten distracted and discouraged by the behavior of other Christians. I pray that from now on, their conduct will create in me a new resolve to devote myself to You and Your ways more and more. Thank You that my continued faithfulness will prove Your promises true!
- J. M. Farro