When you drink the water, remember the source.

This saying speaks of being thankful and grateful to those who have helped and blessed us. Of course, the one whom we should thank the most should be the Lord Jesus Christ. Did He not give His life for us so that we may find in Him salvation so rich and free? Thus Rom 12:1-2 teaches, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Sadly, it is so easy to forget the Lord after we have received of His good hand. Before the children of Israel entered the promised land, the Lord had to remind them, “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.” However, the children of Israel proceeded to forget the Lord and pursued after the idols of the land. So it is with us Christians in Singapore. Having experienced material prosperity, do we cast the Lord aside, and think that we know it all?

Then there is the account of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed in Luke 17:12-19. Out of the ten, nine were Jews and one was a Samaritan. However, only the Samaritan returned to thank Jesus. “Though despised by the Jews he was doubly blessed by the Lord. The last shall be the first. Why? Because while the nine Jews clean forgot their Doctor the moment they were healed, it was the Samaritan who returned to give thanks.” (Timothy Tow) Do not be an ungrateful Christian.

Know a man by his friends

This saying flows from another corollary – “物以类聚,人以群分” (i.e. creatures of the same kind gather together, and so do men). Sinners love to congregate together, because they enjoy devising wicked schemes (see Rom. 1:32). Those who love the materialistic lifestyle gather together, so they can eat, drink and be merry. Is that not the way of the world?

Those who are godly will not want to be found in the company of sinners. “I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.” (Ps. 26:4-5) On the other hand, they will love to meet with those who are godly. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 Jn. 1:7)

Who then are your best friends in life? Are they found in the congregation of God? If a man is often found in the company of sinners, what doth this say about the man?

The principle to follow can thus be seen in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” Christians are not isolationists, but we should have no part with those who are determined to rebel against the Lord.

Ten years to cultivate a tree, a hundred years to cultivate a man

It will usually take about ten years or even decades to grow a tree that is suitable for firewood or timber. If that is true for a tree, then it will take an even longer time to groom a man that is of impeccable character.

This also holds true in the spiritual realm, especially with regards to leadership or positions that assume some form of pastoral care or example (like the Sunday School Teachers, Church Camp Masters). The principle is found in 1 Timothy 3:6 – “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” If you put a man (or woman) up too early for a high office, he may end up hurting himself and others. It is especially tragic in the church, because it involves the spiritual. Thus, there is need for much loving patience and discipleship in the discipleship of Christians. Moses needed 40 years before he was regarded as ready by the Lord, and even then, Moses felt he was not ready!

As a follow up, we have another saying, “路遥知马力,日久见人心”. Just as distance will reveal the strength of a horse, so time will reveal the character of the man. When it comes to leaders and service of the Lord, it is best not to rush but to take time to evaluate with much prayer and searching of the Scriptures. More haste, less speed!

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew