And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed." (2Ch 20:20)
Very often the test of our commitment to the Lord is worked out in our relationships to others. It's easy to say we love the Lord, give him our all, are submitted to his rule and believe his word. But our loving, giving, submitting and believing are not tested when we are in isolation.
John says we cannot truly love the Lord, unless that love is demonstrated towards our fellow man.
Offering God all we have is, in one sense, easy. It is in the specifics, when God asks us to give sacrificially above any beyond what we normally set aside that that commitment is really tested. And it is when those whom God has placed in spiritual authority over us make a decision that we disagree with, that the measure of our submission is truly revealed.
Equally, it is easy to say we believe God's word, when what we really mean is we believe in our own interpretation, emphasis, and outworking of that word. Our own exegesis of the word rarely challenges us out of our comfort zones, because we so often see what we want to see, read what we want to read, emphasise what we want to emphasise, and outwork that which is already familiar to us.
We all, as believers, have the same Word of God, yet the interpretations and emphasis throughout the body of Christ differ dramatically. How do we know that our emphasis is the emphasis that is important to the Lord?
Our belief in God's word is most often challenged, not through our own reading of the Scriptures, but in response to the prophetic word. When the prophetic word challenges our emphasis, shakes our comfort, and demands we engage our faith, we have a choice: to accept it and embrace it as the word of God, or to reject it.
A counter example to the one of Jehoshaphat above, is that in Jeremiah 42, where the people claimed to have total commitment to do whatever God commanded them, and that they would obey whatever word Jeremiah brought to them, but they had already decided in their hearts what they expected God to say. When Jeremiah brought them a word that was contrary to what they wanted to hear, they rejected it.
For you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, "Pray for us to the Lord our God, and whatever the Lord our God says declare to us and we will do it.’ And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God in anything that he sent me to tell you. Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to live." (Jeremiah 42:21-22)
The prophetic word always demands a response from us. It is the response of faith that leads to success.
Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.