Praiseworthy Actions
Various Passages
By Paul Robison

 

“Do something.  Either lead, follow, or get out of the way!”  “Doing beats stewing.”  “Don't forget that people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions.  You may have a heart of gold, but so does a hard boiled egg.”  “The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” 
“Every action of our lives touches some chord that will vibrate in eternity” (All from McKenzie).  Actions are very important.  This morning we want to look at some praiseworthy actions of some biblical men.  After considering these, some observations and applications will be made.
 
Look now at Job 1:4-5: “And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.  So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all.  For Job said, 'It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.'  Thus Job did regularly.”  Although Job was a wealthy man, he did not let his wealth interfere with his devotion to God (Jackson).  That each of the sons has his own house and feast shows they are all doing well financially.  Job is concerned about his children's spiritual welfare.  So, he acts as a mediator between them and God and makes sacrifices on their behalf.  This passages also reveals the following: Job's action takes place probably in the patriarchal age when the patriarch was the priest for his family, Job saw the seat of sin as being the heart, and Job knew that sacrifice was necessary to bring forgiveness (Coffman).  Isn't it interesting that the sin Job fears his children might commit, that of cursing God, is the very sin that Satan hopes Job will commit (Anderson).  The word “regularly” is literally “all his days”, so we see that Job's action of mediating for his children had become a lifelong habit (Anderson).  Job's praiseworthy action is that of considering his children's spiritual well-being and mediating on their behalf.  Of course, Job was grief-stricken when Satan caused a mighty wind to kill all of his children in one blow.  God later blesses Job with ten more children.
 
Now let's go to Hebrews 11:7: “By faith, Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”  Noah was divinely warned that a universal flood was going to take place.  One commentator noted: “... when God announced that He would do something unprecedented in the experience of Noah and his contemporaries, Noah took Him at His word, and showed that he did so by making practical preparations against the day when that word would come true” (Bruce). 
In fact, Noah prepares the ark especially because he wants to protect his household.  “The conduct of Noah illustrates and confirms the definition of faith given in verse 1 as 'the assurance of things hoped for' (his own salvation) and the conviction of things not seen' (the judgment of the flood) ...” (Hughes).  Noah preached to try to get others to be saved, but his contemporaries thought he was crazy.  “Son, where have you been?”  “Oh, Dad, I went over to where that old man is building a boat.”  “Well, son, you know what, I used to that too, and so did your grandfather.  Did he tell you about the flood?”  “Oh, yes, Dad, he puts his hammer down often, and says that water will cover all the earth.”  “Well, son, don't let that worry you.  He's preached that for many years, but we know better don't we?”  And this father gives his son a wink.  They scoffed at Noah, but when the waters began to rise, they discovered sadly that Noah was telling the truth.  Noah's conduct condemned his contemporaries because he believed, preached, and prepared, but they did nothing because of their unbelief and subsequently perished (Lightfoot).  One commentator rightly observed: “Those who will not have God as Savior will meet Him as Judge” (Hughes).  Noah became “a living witness to the truth of the scripture already cited: 'my righteous one shall live by faith' (Hebrews 10:38)” (Ibid.).  Noah's praiseworthy actions of believing God's word and acting upon it brought protection to both himself and his family!
 
Now turn to Genesis 22:5, 7-8: “And Abraham said to his young men, 'Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.' ... But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, 'My father!'  And he said, 'Here I am, my son.'  Then he said, 'Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?'  And Abraham said, 'My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.'  So the two of them went together.”  Abraham was man of worship, and all across the path of his travels, Abraham had left altars.

Have you ever wondered why Abraham doesn't question God about offering his son?  You see, Abraham came from a pagan background and had lived some time in pagan cities before entering into Canaan.  Those pagan cultures practiced offering children to idols.  So, Abraham was certainly not unfamiliar with the practice, but under the law of Moses, child sacrifice is NEVER commanded.  Notice again what Abraham tells those two servants of his: “... the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”  One commentator notes:  “This is a classical definition of worship; worship does not mean a feeling of ecstasy, for Abraham's heart was breaking; worship does not mean 'communion with God'; worship is not some kind of subjective attitude; worship is doing what God demands” (Coffman).  Another commentator gives another idea: “In spite of the fact that the outcome of his act of worship was hidden from Abraham, his faith clung to the promise of the Lord, accounting that God was able to raise up Isaac, even from the dead, Hebrews 11:17-19.  For that reason he confidently says: 'We shall return to you.'  True faith trusts in God even when He seems harsh and angry, when the believer feels only His displeasure in his heart; for it is an easy matter for God to replace everything that He sees fit to take away, to bring back even that which was lost” (Kretzmann).  Isaac's question about the lamb must have struck in Abraham's heart deeper than his knife was about stick in Isaac's heart (Henry).  Isaac's questions show that he had learned much from watching his father offer sacrifices.

“... it is plain that he had been used to sacrifices, and had been trained up in them” (Gill).  Another commentator makes this assessment about the worshiping Abraham: “Thus Abraham, accounting that God could and would raise Isaac, even from the dead, moved in perfect faith and obedience to do the dreadful thing God had commanded him to do!  Never, in world history, has there been exhibited a more perfect obedient faith than that manifested here, both by Abraham and Isaac” (Coffman).  Of course, we know the outcome of test, and Abraham passed with flying colors, and he and Isaac did return together to the servants who were waiting below!  Abraham's praiseworthy action is worshiping God exactly as He had demanded, faithful that God would make things turn out right.
 
Now turn over to Joshua 24:14-15.  Joshua is making a farewell speech before his death.  He recounts how good God has been to the Jews from the time of Abraham down to the conquest of the Promised Land.  God's power, rather than military power, had often brought victories.  Then he challenges the people with these words: “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt.  Serve the Lord!  And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua is challenging the Jews once again to renew their covenant with Jehovah, the only true God.  Their ancestors had worshiped the gods of the Chaldeans and Egyptians.  This generation now lived in Canaan and knew their gods.  So, as they continue their conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua asserts that they must make a choice: will they serve the ancient pagan gods, or the present pagan gods, or the Lord God?  He affirms that he and his household have served the Lord God. This generation had seen Joshua's faithful and obedient service to God for over 30 years.  Joshua knew that the temptation to abandon the Lord God for other pagan gods would be strong as the people continued to dwell in the Promised Land.  So with foresight, he challenges them here to devote themselves to the Lord God and to serve Him alone.  Joshua's praiseworthy action is challenging the Jews to serve the only true God above all gods!
 
You are doing great in following along.  Just three more examples to conclude the first part.  Then we'll take a break and then  start tying the strands together.  Look now at 1 Chronicles 28:20-21: “And David said to his son Solomon, 'Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God—my God—will be with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.  Here are the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of the house of God; and every willing craftsman will be with you for all manner of workmanship, for every kind of service; also the leaders and all the people will be completely at your command.”  Here we get to hear David's words as he encourages Solomon to build the temple to God that he has designed.
What enthusiasm we hear in these short admonitions: “Be strong, do it, don't fear, don't be dismayed, God will be with you!”  Then David reminds Solomon that all the people will support him as well; everyone is looking to him and will obey his orders.  David sure had the right words at the right moment didn't he?  What encouragement!  And in 29:19, we hear David praying for Solomon as well.  How encouraging these words must have been to Solomon at that moment and in the days after his father died as he work with thousands of others to make the temple a reality! 

David's praiseworthy action was encouraging his son and his subjects.
 
Now let's go to the New Testament and look at Luke 15:22-24, which are part of a familiar and beloved parable: “But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'  And they began to be merry.”  Since the father is not at a loss for words, how many times had he rehearsed this scene in his mind?  He sent those servants a scurrying.  The ring, the robes, and the shoes were all signs of the sonship which the father restored to him; you see, servants don't wear these things (Coffman).  One commentator observes: “Though the boy had wasted much, and hurt some people deeply, there was no ... chastisement or reminder from the father, just pure love and forgiveness.  The father could see the son's sorrow, so that no condemnation was necessary” (Ash).  “The fatted calf was clearly an animal carefully looked after for some special occasion” (Morris).  What joy is heard is heard in the father's voice and words, and his son heard this as well.  Being merry signifies the joy in Gods' church over the salvation of the lost (Coffman). “In the far country, the prodigal learned the meaning of misery; but back home, he discovered the meaning of mercy” (Wiersbe).  The praiseworthy action of this man was his welcoming his son back home again.
 
Now look at 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12: “You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”  Paul talks about how he and those who preached with him were good examples to the members there.  Being a Christian in Thessalonica had not been easy, so the preachers had given the members the encouragement they needed.  They also had comforted the faint-hearted and the bereaved, and they also gave them the high challenge of living up to God's high standards (Morris).  “Every one of you” shows attention to the individual, and these preachers must have taught often in members' homes (Kelcy).  The preachers cared as a good father cares for the welfare of his children (Ibid.).  Paul and his helpers had nurtured these new believers correctly (Wiersbe).  The praiseworthy action of Paul and his fellow preachers was nurturing these members.  Now let's pause to remember our Lord's death, resurrection, and coming again as we partake of the Lord's Supper.
 
We've seen some praiseworthy actions.  Now let's make a few observations and applications.  A little girl once asked her mother: “Mommy, if Santa Claus brings our presents, and God gives us our daily bread, and Uncle Sam gives us Social Security, why do we keep daddy around?”  Someone defined a father as a man who carries photographs where his money used to be.  See if you can relate to this:
At age 10, my father could do anything. 
At age 20, my father was way out of touch and behind the times. 
At age 30, I thought it might be good to ask Dad about it. 
At age 40, I said, “Let's get Dad's opinion.” 
At age 50, I wondered how Dad would have handled it. 
At age 60, there wasn't much my Dad didn't know. 
At age 70, I wish I could talk it over with Dad; boy, do I miss him!

Someone gave a lengthy description of how God made fathers, but here's just a little of it: “When the Lord was creating fathers he started with a tall frame.  And an angel standing nearby said, 'What kind of father is that?  If You’re going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers up so high?  He won’t be able to shoot marbles without kneeling.  He won’t be able to tuck a child in bed without bending.  He won’t even be able to kiss a child without stooping?'  And God smiled and said, 'Yes, but if I make him child size, who will the children have to look up to?' ... God worked throughout the night, giving the father few words, but a firm voice and eyes that saw everything.  Finally, almost as an afterthought, he added tears.  Then He turned to the angel and said, 'Now are we satisfied that he can love as much as a mother?'  And the angel was silent” (Bombeck)!  Did you notice in our examples that each man's praiseworthy actions affected others?  They made a difference in others' lives.  All of those men acted as a father or in a fatherly manner.
 
They influenced their sons and their physical or spiritual families.
 
Thank you, fathers, for all your praiseworthy actions in our lives!  As our reading in Psalm 78:5-8 stated, fathers are to help the next generation to know about and to follow God.  Be fathers who continue to practice the praiseworthy actions mentioned previously with your own families. 
Be a mediating father who prays for your family!  Be a protecting father who shields your family from danger and evil!  Be a worshiping father who shows his family how to praise and obey God!  Be a challenging father who sets an example of service to Jesus!  Be an encouraging father who spurs your family members on to do great things for God!  Be a welcoming father who is willing to forgive and to forget!  Be a nurturing father who always tries to help your family get closer to applying God's will in their lives!  Continue to make a difference in your family's lives as you practice praiseworthy actions!  Jesus is the greatest person in history who has performed the most praiseworthy actions!  Why not pattern your life after His?  He will help you to be a better father.  If you feel like maybe you've failed as a Christian father, it's not too late to repent and to do better.  Take advantage while you have this opportunity to make Jesus your Lord or to ask Him to help you to be a better father.  Our God is a forgiving heavenly Father.