As of this week, we are half-way through 2013. Wow! Where did the time go? A great many spiritual applications can be made from just the consideration of that question. But rather than consider those, it's fitting for us to examine some of the powerful lessons we learn by just looking at the word "Half" and how it's used throughout the Bible. Consider three valuable, timeless lessons we learn through the examination of three instances in scripture.
First, working together pays off. The story of Nehemiah is filled with great reminders about how God provides for His people and equips us to do great things. Nehemiah was truly an inspirational leader who began a movement of restoration and revival among his people. He was instrumental in the great wall-building project in the beloved city of Jerusalem. With great amazement, the author records that the wall was built to half its height in a short period of time because of an attitude summarized by the statement, "the people had a mind to work" (Nehemiah 4:6). Elsewhere in the same chapter, we learn that while one half of the people constructed the wall, the other half were on guard against any threats that would come their way. Too often, local churches don't grow closer together or grow in number because, rather than working together, we work against each other. This should most certainly NOT be the case and in order to keep ourselves from becoming obstinate, we should follow the example of these people and relish the opportunity to work together and grow together.
Second, being generous is a really good thing. The story of Zacchaeus is a familiar one. In the account recorded by Luke, this rich man confessed to Jesus that he gave half of his goods to the poor (Luke 19:8). Of course, the point of this being included in scripture is not to suggest that such significant generosity is required, but rather to remind us that, as is stated elsewhere in the Bible, that we have been blessed so that we can then make others' lives more blessed. We often times think of ourselves as poor because we're not millionaires but the fact is that the average American is VERY wealthy as compared with the world. We sometimes need to be reminded that we need to be more generous!
Finally, standing up for what's right can be costly. In Mark 6, Herod made the foolish offer to give Herodias' daughter whatever she wanted, up to half the kingdom. Of course, we know what she asked for -- the head of John the Baptizer. John's violent death was a direct result of his choice to stand up for the Lord by telling the king that he had no right to have his brother's wife (Mark 6:18). While it's unlikely you and I will lose our lives in service to God, we stand an excellent chance of losing some friends, job promotions, and popularity contests as a result of our decisions to do right and refusals to be like the world. But, of course, our minimal sacrifices are well worth the great reward that is promised by our loving God.
Now halfway through the year, let us work more fully to please our God and be in service to His great cause!