In addition to these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, we can also add a great number of God’s chosen people, who, having because of others’ envy endured many insults and forms of torture, provided us with a most excellent example. Because of others’ envy, those women, the Danaids and Dircae, were persecuted and after they suffered terrible and unspeakable torture, finished the course of their faith unfalteringly and, though weak in body, received a noble reward. Envy has alienated wives from their husbands and changed that saying of our father Adam, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” [Genesis 2:23]. Envy has been the underlying reason behind the overthrow of many great cities and the rooting up of mighty nations.
We write these things to you, my loved ones, not just to remind you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling in the same area and the same troubles have come to both of us. So let’s stop worrying about useless matters and come closer to living out our holy calling. Let us focus on doing what is good, pleasing, and acceptable to the God who made us. Let us focus solely on the blood of Christ and think how precious that blood is to God. It is the blood that has been shed for our salvation and has offered grace to the whole world. Looking back to every generation that has gone before us, we can see that the Lord has always offered people a chance to repent of their sins and come to Him. Noah preached that the people of his day should repent and whoever listened to his message was saved. Jonah warned that the Ninevites were going to be destroyed, but they repented and prayed and were saved, even though they weren’t a part of God’s covenant with Israel.
God’s ministers have spoken through the Holy Spirit about repentance and the Lord of all things has Himself sworn, “As I live, says the Lord, I do not want any sinner to die, but for them to come to repentance” [Ezekiel 33:11]. And, “Repent of your sins, O house of Israel. Say to the children of My people, ‘Though your sins reach from the earth to the sky, and they appear redder than scarlet and blacker than funeral clothes, yet if you turn to Me with your whole heart and say, “Father!”, I will listen to you as if you were a holy people’” [unknown reference]. And in another place, He says, “Wash yourselves and become clean. Get the wickedness out of your souls. I hate looking at it. Stop your evil ways and learn to do good. Pursue justice, rescue the oppressed, help the orphans, and see that you are being fair to the widows, and come let us talk this through. Though your sins are like crimson, I will make you as white as snow. Though they are like scarlet, I will make you as white as wool. And if you willingly obey Me, you will eat the best crops that the land can produce. But if you refuse to obey Me and will not listen to Me, then the sword will eat your flesh, for the Lord Himself has spoken all this” [Isaiah 1:16-20] God, in His almighty will, has said all this because He loves us and wants us to repent.
So let us willingly obey His excellent and glorious will for our lives. Let us ask Him for His mercy and His patience and stop worrying about these things that don’t matter. Let’s stop fighting and being jealous of each other. That just leads to death. Instead, let’s think about those people who have served Him perfectly. Take Enoch for instance, who, having been righteous and obedient to God, was taken to Heaven without dying. And Noah, being a faithful man, preached the way of new birth and was used by God to save the animals that came to him in the ark.
Abraham, called the “friend of God”, proved himself to be a faithful person when he obeyed God. In obedience, he left his own country and his own people and his father’s family so that, by leaving behind a small piece of land and a weak family and an insignificant inheritance, he could inherit the promises of God. [Clement quotes Genesis 12:1-3 and 13:14-16]. And again, the Scripture says, “God took Abram out into the field and spoke to him. ‘Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. So will your descendants be. And Abram believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness” [Genesis 15:5-6]. Because he had faith and was welcoming to the guests, God gave Abraham a son when Abraham was very old. And in obedience, Abraham offered that son as a sacrifice to God on the mountain where God told him to go.