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Overcoming the Past So We Can Serve God

Overcoming the Past So We Can Serve God

            Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot… (Judg 11:1)

Jephthah's story begins with what would have been a heroic description had it not been tarnished by the dishonorable circumstances of his birth. Jephthah grew up in the shadow of his mother’s shameful reputation, and his stepbrothers mistreated him for it. Expelled from his father’s house, Jephthah turned to a life of raiding in order to survive, surrounded only by “worthless men.”

The Bible separately describes another man called Abimelech, who was also of a disadvantaged birth. Born of his father’s female servant, Abimelech dealt with his illegitimacy by killing his 70 brothers and angering God in the process. Jephthah, however, did not use his physical strength against his brothers to assert his right to an inheritance. Instead, he chose to flee, not knowing that his people would one day seek for his return as their commander.

When the time came, God called Jephthah to serve. Jephthah had been rejected by society for no fault of his own, but God had plans all along to use him. God had chosen and prepared him to be the one to deliver His people from the hands of the Ammonites.

Jephthah had to make a decision. Could he come to the aid of the same people who had driven him away before? If not, his God-given strength would be used only toward raiding. We would not have known of him or of the battles that he fought for God.

Like Jephthah, we have a choice. When the opportunity arises, will we allow our background or past pains to hinder us from willingly stepping up and entering God’s service? Only when we can look past how others have judged or wronged us in the past can we live out the purpose that God intends for us today.

Questions for Reflection

1.      Have painful circumstances that you have encountered in your life affected how you feel about God?

2.      Have you allowed past hurts to prevent you from taking the next step in your commitment or service to God?

Author: Lois Kuo