I struggle with B.O. There. I’ve said it. It’s out in the open. I don’t like it, and I wish it wasn’t a part of who I am. Chances are, you also struggle with the same problem. Or perhaps you’ve had an issue with it in the past but have learned to overcome this often socially crippling disease.
Strange thing is, when I open the Scriptures, I read about men and women of faith who also had the same problem, while others had clearly defeated this dark enemy. Moses, at times had B.O. issues, as did Abraham, Jonah, Jeremiah, Peter and other followers of Jesus. Infact, the whole nation of Israel was often guilty of struggling with B.O. In contrast, Rahab, Stephen, Paul and many of the names mentioned in Hebrews 11’s “Hall of Faith” seemed to have no problem at all with B.O.
Now before you get the idea that I’ve finally lost it, remember this: we are in the world of acronyms. So when I speak of B.O., I am not referring to the unfortunate “affliction” of one’s sour bodily aroma. After all, how could I possibly label Moses, the mighty man of God, as a “B.O. struggler” and Paul as a “B.O. overcomer?” Clearly, an acronym is the answer. And the answer is…Boldness & Obedience. Some struggled with B.O.; others rose above it. If you look at/study the list of Bible characters again in this new “acronymic” light, perhaps you’ll appreciate this concept of Boldness & Obedience more fully. But for now, let’s make it personal. After all, it’s probably the two areas of life in which we’d all like to do better…
Boldness – Described in the dictionary as “Fearless and daring; courageous”. As Christians, we should strive to be as courageous as Stephen before his accusers (Acts 6:8-7:60). The courage to “tell it as it is” and the strength to bare no grudges; to have a forgiving spirit, just like Stephen, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). If only we could consistently muster the same bravery of David against the giant which stood in his way, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45). And wouldn’t it be a huge testament to God living in us if we were able to respond to His marvelous grace by saying “’No”’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12).
Sadly, we’re often held back by that great adversary – FEAR. Fear of failure. Fear of “not performing” well enough. Fear of the unknown. Fear of stepping outside our comfort zone. Fear of rejection or ridicule. If only we would listen to Scripture instead of being preoccupied with our own perceived inadequacies. Perhaps then, life would be different. We’d be encouraged by 2 Timothy 1:7; a reminder that, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.” We’d march forward, with God’s words to Joshua ringing in our ears, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). And we’d press on, with Jesus’ words pulsating through our veins as they no doubt did when He spoke with His disciples the night before His crucifixion, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
And then there’s obedience – Defined as “Dutifully complying with the commands, orders, or instructions of one in authority.” Oh, to hear and heed the Word of God; to read about our “Great Authority’s” will for our life through the pages of Scripture, and to be so prompted by the indwelling Holy Spirit – that our only (and immediate) response is “Yes Sir!” No arguing. No questions asked. No delay. Simple obedience. When God says “do it” we do it. When He says “don’t do it” we don’t even entertain the idea of going against His command.
While the Apostle Paul was far from perfect, his relationship with Jesus Christ was so deep – so personal – that he was able to say to the Philippian believers, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9). We should desire and strive to be so transformed that we can say with all confidence – “do what I do; say what I say; think what I think.”
Alas, many of us dare not make such a boast as we remain a work in progress. Nonetheless, let’s be grateful and humbled that “He who began a good work in you (us) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). And with this, commit ourselves to obeying God whatever, wherever and whenever He asks.
I’m not there yet (and I suspect, neither are you). I still struggle with B.O., but as I read, study, pray, serve, and try to love others and love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) there is hope, even a confidence, that my goal of becoming more and more like Christ will be realized.
So this week, let’s struggle no longer with B.O. Let’s be sold out for Jesus. No fear. No compromise. No backing away when opportunities arise to share our faith. And let’s take seriously Jesus’ warning in Matthew 10:33 that, “Whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven”.
Now that’s enough to give anyone B.O!