Seeking Good Avoiding Evil
Seeking good, avoiding evil is the best way for us to approach life.
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
10 August 2014
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Seeking good, avoiding evil is the best way for us to approach life, for if we only try to avoid evil that is all we will see; however, if we are seeking good at the same time we are avoiding evil, we will see both and by focusing on the good in the world around us, we will much more easily avoid the evil.
Last week we were looking at the story about Jesus feeding a multitude of people with only 5 loaves of bread.
We also mentioned that there was no mention of what He did with the two fish that were mentioned in the passage, and we believe that it is very likely because the fish came from acts of violence and death which are not part of the heavenly will of God, and Jesus was seeking good and avoiding evil.
Today we are going to take a look at the verses that follow: Matthew 14:22-36…
22. And immediately He made the disciples get into the boat, and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.
23. And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
This was most likely because He was mourning the death of John the Baptist, and He needed some time to be alone with His thoughts and to pray.
What happened to John was evil, but Jesus was seeking good, at the same time He was avoiding evil in the world around Him.
Meanwhile the disciples were in the boat on the water.
24. But the boat was already many stadia [approximately the length of 2 football fields, or 200 yards] away from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.
25. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.
This is another one of Jesus’ miracles to help prove to the disciples that He was indeed the Christ.
26. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
Their crying out in fear is an example of their lack of faith, and this is still true today, where most people are seemingly afraid to speak out against all the evil going on in the world around us, particularly about our society’s warring madness and the horrible exploitation of billions of animals every year.
If we truly had faith in the Lord, we would speak out about all forms of evil, and work at leading people into living in the heavenly will of God, where there is no pain suffering or death.
The animals were created for good, and by seeking good (the way the animals were created) we should be avoiding evil (the horrible things that are happening to animals) and sharing our understanding with others so that they would hopefully do the same.
So, how did Jesus respond to the fearful disciples?
27. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28. And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
By saying, “Lord, if it is You,” Peter is still expressing his doubt and fear.
29. And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
30. But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31. And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Even with all of Peter’s doubts and fears, Jesus still saves him, for that is part of Jesus’ expression of love, an unconditional love that all of us should have, too.
32. And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped.
33. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
Yet even to this day many people still doubt.
34. And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.
35. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick;
36. and they began to entreat Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.
Do you think that many more people would believe, if these miracles happened today?
We don’t, because they crucified Jesus even after all of these miracles.
Unfortunately most people are not seeking good and avoiding evil; they are seeking to be a part of the evil ways of this world and going along with peer pressure.
Let’s now take a look at Genesis 37:1-28, and notice how this theme of fear and lack of love and faith play out, for they have existed throughout recorded time; and as we have said, they are not seeking good and avoiding evil.
1. Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan.
2. These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.
As we proceed with this passage we are going to see that many in this family are not seeking good nor are they avoiding evil.
And, we believe that this problem stems from the fact that they live in a herding culture where they only see animals as material wealth, and not as the living souls that God created them to be; this is turn hardens their hearts.
3. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic.
4. And his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.
We hope we all can see how the sins of the father are being passed on to the sons.
5. Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.
Hatred of a person is the result of seeing only the evil and not the good.
We need to be able to separate the evil acts of a person at the same time we are seeing the person as who God wanted them to be.
If we are seeking good and avoiding evil, we will be able to do this, and we will hate the evil, as long as we also love the good.
6. And he said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had;
7. for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
8. Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
Even though this dream will come true in the future, if Joseph had said that he has had a strange dream, and had asked his brothers to help him understand it, the results of the brothers’ attitude may have been different.
9. Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
10. And he related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?”
11. And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.
Note the difference in Israel’s [Jacob’s] attitude from that of his other sons; at least he doesn’t discount it completely, for he realizes that it could be from God.
12. Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock in Shechem.
13. And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “I will go.”
14. Then he said to him, “Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock; and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
Note carefully that Israel is only asking about the welfare of his other sons and the flocks of animals; he is not asking about what they are doing wrong.
This is all part of seeking good and avoiding evil.
15. And a man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, “What are you looking for?”
16. And he said, “I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing the flock.”
17. Then the man said, “They have moved from here; for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
18. When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death.
This is the same kind of casual attitude that many people have about killing and eating animals, such as one of the sheep of the flock, and why we believe that this is a direct result of the herding culture that they lived in and we live in today.
This is totally contrary to the heavenly will of God.
19. And they said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer!
20. “Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!”
There is really no difference between what they were planning to do, and what they had routinely been doing to some of their animals.
21. But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, “Let us not take his life.”
22. Reuben further said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him” — that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father.
If Reuben was really righteous and was truly seeking good and avoiding evil, he could have convinced his brothers to do Joseph no harm whatsoever, including throwing him into a pit.
23. So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him;
24. and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.
And then we see the true extent of their hardness of heart.
25. Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt.
26. And Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood?
27. “Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him.
We hope that we all recognize their evil intent, because even though they acknowledge him as their brother, they really aren’t avoiding evil in their hearts and souls; they are giving into it.
28. Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.
Their casually selling Joseph into slavery seems no different than their sitting down to eat after throwing Joseph into the pit, and this reflects the major problem in the world today.
Because most people are not seeking good and avoiding evil, the world remains hard of heart and migrates to the ways of the world, which are the ways of the devil.
We are to be like Jesus and seek to live in the heavenly will of God, and help free creation from its present and long-standing corruption.
We are to be seeking good and avoiding evil.
This is really no different than seeing and smelling a beautiful rose with gladness, at the same time we are avoiding the thorns, for we are seeking the goodness of the rose (seeking good), while avoiding the thorns (avoiding evil).
And we can make this kind of positive difference in the world.
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