“For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hast not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 When it pleases the Lord in His great mercy to spare us and our children, we will soon stand at the end of the Year of our Lord 2020. The above words are appropriate to sincerely ask ourselves when another year has nearly come to its completion. This year has very swiftly run its course (Psalm 90:10), a year where great and many sins were committed, sins which we need pardoning. Yes, we have come a year closer to that never ending and all decisive eternity.
“And who maketh thee to differ from another?” Then indeed the Lord has made a difference, yes, a great difference compared to so many others! Many among young and old have been taken away by the cold hand of death, by means of old age, sickness, accidents and war, and they have been ushered into eternity. Many have had their names appear in the newspaper by way of an obituary. There are those that are handicapped and struggling with deafness, blindness, lameness and many other illnesses of body and mind. There are places on the earth where the crops have failed because of drought, grasshoppers and disease, causing great hunger and suffering. Others have lost their homes and possessions by means of flooding, forest fires and wind. Sadly, great numbers of marriages have suffered shipwreck with division and divorce. Great numbers are addicted to alcohol, drugs and pornography. There are many countries where there is persecution on account of the testimony of Jesus Christ. Other countries are torn apart because of civil wars, where many have become homeless and wanderers. Truly, how many tears have been shed this past year? The Lord, the Creator of the heavens and the earth uphold, encourage and comfort the mourning, the afflicted, the distressed and discouraged ones, and give them a place to bow their knees at His throne.
“And what has thou that thou didst not receive?” Readers, tell me now, who has given you all those blessings? It is true we are to be responsible and be diligent (Eccl. 9:2), but I read in Psalm 127 that without the Lord’s blessings the means cannot and shall not prevail. So, tell me Who has given you your heartbeat, day and night? Consider thoughtfully, Who has given you health and strength, a brain to think, eyes to see, and a tongue to speak? Consider then, farmers, when the seed was entrusted to the earth, who has given the sprouting and the growth with such an abundant harvest? Who has given sunshine and rain, keeping us from great hail and wind storms? Friends, tell me then, Who maketh us to differ, for we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The answer is, that it is the mighty and merciful Lord, the Creator and upholder of the heavens and the earth.
“For who maketh thee to differ from one another?” The Apostle Paul has written these words to the church of Corinth, where the Lord has blessed His word by the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit to the saving of many souls. Paul has experienced in a very special way, “[W]ho maketh thee to differ from another? It was by free and sovereign grace that as a persecutor he was so suddenly arrested on the way to Damascus (Act 9). It was the King of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ who has stopped and turned Paul, giving him those new desires and longings. Readers, the Lord has given us and our children another year of grace (2 Cor. 6:2). Let me ask you, have you also been born again by God’s almighty grace? Has it been a good and profitable year for your soul?
“Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hast not received it?” Readers, tell me what has now been the outcome of the differentiating work of the Lord where indeed he has made us to differ from so many? Has the goodness of the Lord worked that upright and genuine repentance in our lives (Rom. 2:4)? Have all the differences in our life wrought the heartfelt humility with thanksgiving before this God (Gen. 32:9-10)? Have all His mercies brought us closer to the Word of God, with an obedience to it (Psalm 119:17)? Has his patient longsuffering wrought our astonishment? Lam. 3:22 says “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.” Have we in the past year, by the work of the Holy Spirit, needed the only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ as our chief Prophet to teach us (Luke 10:41,42), as the Only High Priest to atone for our sins, (Hebrews 7:25-27), and as the eternal King to reign over us (Isa. 26:13)? Have we not only become hearers of the Word but also doers (Matt. 7:24-27)? Friends, give an honest answer before the all-knowing God. “For who maketh thee to differ from another?”
Rev. E. C. Adams, Picture Butte