“If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive that one; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sakes in the presence [and with the approval] of Christ (the Messiah), To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 AMPC
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proudor rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
African-American slaves wrote many heartfelt songs, often referred to as Negro Spirituals. It is noteworthy that the people who enslaved and and oppressed them are the same people who introduced them to Christianity.
One would think these slaves wouldn’t be open to hearing about Jesus from their oppressor, but Jesus opened their hearts to believe the Good News. That’s the only plausible explanation for it.
The Bible says of Lydia, ” The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Acts 16:14.
Yes, He can do that, even under the most desperate and cruel circumstances. Just as the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, He opened their hearts as well.
One of my favorite hymns is Give Me Jesus. The words are simple, yet they are deeply moving. I was not surprised to find out it is an African-American spiritual, written by slaves looking to our Lord and Savior for deliverance. Just as He brought deliverance to Israel through the leadership of Moses, they believed He would deliver them from slavery. And He did.
In the morning when I rise, In the morning when I rise, In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, give me Jesus, You may have all this world, Give me Jesus.
I can imagine these desperate Christians singing these words from their heart, looking for deliverance when Jesus comes to take them home. This exemplifies loving God with all your heart and soul, strength, and mind.
When I come to die When I come to die Oh, when I come to die Give me Jesus
Many of the spirituals and songs were birthed out of the trials and struggles of those in slavery. “Give Me Jesus” is an excellent example of how the victims of American slavery were able to express in song God’s presence and care in the midst of heartache and pain.
“Give Me Jesus” is but one of many spirituals written during slavery with no known composer or text writer. “Persons in slavery, deprived and besieged in this life, might have nothing earthly to hold on to. But, if they were Christians, they believed they had an inheritance in God” (Warren, 1997, 37).
The tune GIVE ME JESUS, written by African-American slaves, appears in nineteen hymnal collections and supplements today.
Dear Lord, May we cling to you, seek you, and worship you with the same devotion and love as our brothers and sisters in Christ who cried out to you in their pain and trusted you in the midst of cruelty and injustice. Forgive us for our petty complaints and help us to be thankful for all our many blessings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If I compare myself to the Apostle Paul, Joseph in the Old Testament, Corrie ten Boom, or any number of other saints who did great things in their generation, I find myself seriously lacking in many areas. I just don’t measure up. But God had a plan for these people in their generation.
The Bible says, “After David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors…” (Acts 13:36) God had a plan for David that was specific to the generation in which he lived. I believe He has a plan for us in this specific time period.
I don’t live in the same generation as the Apostle Paul, therefore I am not confronted with shipwrecks, angry crowds, horrific prisons, or the prospect of being stoned.
I don’t live in the same generation as Joseph so I don’t have to worry about being sold as a slave, thrown in a dungeon, or having all my brothers hate me. We know that Joseph became ruler over all of Egypt and was highly honored. But …
“In time, Joseph and all of his brothers died, ending that entire generation.” Exodus 1:6
And did things change! The new king didn’t know Joseph and he feared the Israelites, so he made them all slaves. They were mistreated and abused.
My favorite heroine is Corrie ten Boom. She lived during the Nazi invasion of Holland. She and her father and her sister hid Jews in their home during the Holocaust. They were eventually discovered and all three were sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Her father and sister died there. Corrie was eventually released due to an admistrative error.
I don’t live in the same generation as Corrie ten Boom, so I don’t have to face the horrors of the Holocaust.
When Esther was selected to be the Queen, her cousin, Mordecai said, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
It makes me ponder the question, “What is God calling me to do in my generation?”
This generation is as unique as the generations described above. We have problems that are different than any seen before. School shootings, pressure to conform to the world and its unbiblical views, world starvation, false teachers, teen suicide. The list goes on.
In this unique time, what is God calling us to do?
Tell others about Jesus and the Gospel.
Share our story.
Read and study the Word of God so that we won’t be seduced by error.
Love the Lord.
Pray about everything.
As we become mature in the faith, perhaps God will call us to do something we can’t imagine having the strength to do right now. (Consider how God prepared Joseph to lead Egypt.) But for now, we know exactly what He is calling us to do.
What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts.
P.S. If you haven’t read it, be sure to read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.