Caution. It can be applied to a great many things in our world to varying degrees.
Caution! This fence is electrically charged.
Caution! Ingesting this product may cause death.
Caution! Reading may become contagious. (Yes, I have seen this.)
We apply it to portion control at a buffet and crossing the street. Caution is used for things that mean something seemingly important.
The Christian life is not one to be lived in extreme caution. It is a deliberate life, yes. But it is not a safe life by any means. And we will always wrestle with how much caution is required, if any at all.
The first encounters of Saul of Tarsus with the church were full of this struggle. The possibility of this alliance going south was high in the minds of many.
The believers in Damascus were aware of Saul. They possibly knew of Stephen’s death, and Saul’s reputation as a zealot and persecutor of the church preceded him. The church had its guard up already because they knew he was on his way to their city. They knew that he was coming after them.
And poor Ananias, given the job of first soldier in. “Go meet with Saul of Tarsus.” I’m sure he was already prepared to meet the Lord, but this seemed like a suicide mission.
Saul could have been faking it…. had it been for one small thing. The Lord personally sent Ananias to him. To Saul. The enemy.
We usually make Saul to be the hero in that account, and I am not sure why. Sure, I feel bad for him, treated skeptically by the church. They had reason for it. Good reason!
No, I think the real protagonist here is Ananias and later Barnabas. They threw caution to the wind. Knowledge and history and reason told them that Saul was not to be trusted. God told them the opposite. Logic is always logical to us. God often leads beyond our menial logic to work something that makes eternal sense.
It requires throwing caution to the wind sometimes.
Besides, isn’t caution sometimes just a nice way to express fear? Hmm… there is a verse about that. Perfect love casts out fear. Could it be that Ananias was showing perfect love to Saul? Love that defies logic and safety and fear. Love that is full of faith. Trust. Trusting that when God calls us to a task, He will lead and keep and guide and fulfill His purpose in us perfectly.
The world we live in today is full of reasons to be cautious: whether it be a Supreme Court decision or a perverse culture or an extremist group threatening our way of life. We tend to be reactionary and act in extreme caution so as not to interrupt our lives too much.
Caution tells us to hold people at arms’ length. We don’t want people knowing us too well. We don’t want to love too much and end up hurt. Caution tells us to only care a little. The needs of other can’t affect us too much or else we may want to help. (Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? That rabbi… whatta guy.) Caution tells us to only minister if there is some sort of return on the investment.
Caution keeps us from living what is truly the life of Christ.
Has the Lord called you to something? Go. Throw that caution to the wind. Do what God calls you to do with reckless abandon. It’s risky. You may get hurt. There may never be any praise for your work this side of heaven. But there is joy. And communion. And fellowship. And love.