The significance of witnessing in pairs

Concentrating on personal affairs resonates with a society indifferent to the welfare of others. Human nature often favours competition over collaboration, as illustrated by Cain’s discomfort when Abel’s offering was considered better than his own. Jealousy arises from unquenchable materialistic desires. God’s observation that it was not good for man to be alone when He created Adam highlights the significance of companionship. However, this necessity for fellowship does not uniformly extend to those baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for their existence transcends physical constraints.

In their initial training, Jesus dispatched His disciples on a mission, endowing them with capabilities beyond human nature. They lacked the Holy Spirit, merely channelling power from Jesus, to whom they were apprenticed. Their actions continued Jesus’ power, executed under His directive. Jesus was meant to visit those places, but instead, He delegated the task to His disciples, now numbering around seventy, as a component of their training.

After these events, the Lord designated seventy others and dispatched them in pairs to every city and place He was to visit. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. Go on your way; I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 

“Carry no money bag, knapsack, or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. But in whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a person of peace is there, your peace will rest upon them; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the worker deserves his wages.

“Do not move from house to house. In any city, you enter they welcome you, and eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But in any city you enter and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city that clings to us, we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that Day for Sodom than for that city” (Luke 10:1-12 NKJV).

The directive mentioned differs from the command Jesus gave to them before his departure, following his resurrection. This command was imparted after they had gained a deeper understanding, enabling them to recognize the significance of their mission. They were to be endowed with a power that would grant them extraordinary abilities. In the earlier scenario, the disciples were dispatched in pairs with precise instructions to carry out Jesus’ commands. At that time, they possessed no power of their own, only the authority lent to them by Jesus. Enthralled by Jesus’ power, they were prone to human-like behaviour.

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20 NKJV).

The danger of power lies in its grant to those driven by carnal desires. This is why the secrets of God’s Kingdom are bestowed with discretion. Humility must precede the granting of power to the deserving. Jesus seized the opportunity to underscore the issue of vanity that could arise if power were prematurely granted. He implied that upon His departure, after imparting further lessons, He would endow them with the requisite power.

And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:45-49 NKJV).

The wording is different from the initial instruction to go in pairs. This time they would receive power from above. They were instructed to wait for the Holy Spirit that would come upon them. They had no experience of what the receiving of the Holy Spirit entailed. But it was important for them to wait according to instructions, rather than start doing what they were not instructed to do. This was the time when waiting patiently would be important. God’s power would not be limited by physical considerations.

As a married man, there are countless times when my wife has been effective in checking my conceit. At times she would make me feel exasperated, but I would eventually be thankful for her assistance in such areas of my weakness. Her espousal to me has often exposed my deeper weaknesses, which without her; I would have remained oblivious to. Doing God’s work helps in handling problems of conceit, as Jesus warned His disciples. No one likes being censured, but in Christianity, nothing is as valuable as criticism.

Individuals filled with the Holy Spirit are not typically prone to conceit, yet they may still be susceptible to it. Therefore, there is merit in the idea of departing from the physical body after receiving the Holy Spirit. Remaining corporeal necessitates guidance from another person. For instance, Paul once corrected Peter on proper conduct among the Gentiles, an intervention that would have been impossible without Paul’s presence (Galatians 2:11-22).

Christians rely on each other to maintain a focus on spiritual matters. In the absence of a Christian companion, persecution may become inevitable. Those with the Holy Spirit are capable of achievements beyond imagination. However, the danger arises when there is no one to guard against the lure of vanity by Satan.

Continuous learning from one another is essential for the followers of God. The power of God is unparalleled by anything worldly. A physical being can easily be overwhelmed and fail to manage that power correctly, which is why the path of Christianity is fraught with peril. This risk is present for beginners and can even challenge the most seasoned believers.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. 

“Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!” (2 Corinthians 12:7-13 NKJV).

A spiritual individual, as a child of God, may be endowed with numerous gifts. However, this does not justify cultivating a conceited demeanour. The principle of relinquishing all should persist among God’s followers until life’s end. In the case of Paul, God deemed it necessary to allow a thorn in his flesh, which Paul esteemed as a blessing, not a misfortune. While worldly views might deem Paul’s plight intolerable, Paul himself proclaimed:Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”

Any man being used by God in this world ought to guard against the consideration of being superior to others. Regardless of the exuded power, humility ought to remain the guiding factor.  Paul’s thorn in the flesh could have implied his persecutors, for whatever reason. The blessings of a Christian comprise not those things that give comfort, but those things that humble the person at all times. Those things that the physical person does not like are the things that authenticate his/her spiritual freedom.

God is always present to guide His servants through any challenges they encounter. Yet, the same God also expects these servants to serve one another. In his epistles, Paul illustrates that God guided him to a complete understanding of humility’s importance. This inspiration led him to compose an additional letter to the Philippians on this very topic:

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:3-11 NKJV).

Having been assured of God’s power, Christ took the form of slavery, to die for us. In other words, Jesus became our servant, while we were in sinfulness condition. The exaltation of Jesus did not come before the crucifixion, which assumed the position of the worst sinner known, at that time, Barabbas. It was only after His resurrection that Jesus became highly exalted above everything else. The worst thing ever is to attempt to hold the position of exaltation before the allotted time.

The servants of God should utilize the presence of other servants for correction. A true servant of God strives to remain humble after accomplishing significant feats through divine power. It is crucial to remember that this power must be exercised with caution to prevent any potential misuse by Satan. For instance, Jesus faced temptation by Satan, which would have led Him to misuse God’s power, three times in the wilderness.

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands, they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:3-11 NKJV).

Had Jesus succumbed to the temptation of misusing God’s power, as Satan intended, He would have served Satan rather than God. Satan, who distorts God’s goodness, persistently aims to subvert God’s plans for humanity. Despite Satan’s victory over Adam, God had already devised a plan to redeem humanity from despair. The temptation of Jesus highlights that humility is crucial, even when one possesses God’s power. Accepting constructive feedback from a colleague helps preserve the integrity of God’s servants.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

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