DO NOT seek after GREAT THINGS, but TRUST IN THE LORD: "Thus says the Lord: "Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh," says the Lord. "But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go." (Jer 45:4-5)
The above passage is a message of comfort to Baruch, the son of Neriah and the brother of Seraiah who served as an official under King Zedekiah (Jer 51:59). Baruch, whose name means “blessed”, was a scribe by occupation and served as Jeremiah’s secretary and his lifelong friend. It appears that Baruch had been told at the beginning of his ministry of the difficulties ahead (see Jer. 1:10; 36:1–4), but had eventually become discouraged with the sad turn of events like Jeremiah (see Jer. 15:10).
Bible scholars have given different reasons as to why Baruch may have become discouraged:
- Due to his fears regarding the threatened judgments on Judah
- Due to his personal rejection from others because of his association with Jeremiah (Jer 36:15–19; 43:3)
- Due to his disappointment with events after King Jehoiakim burned the original copy of the prophecy and he had to write a second copy all over again (see Jer. 36).
However, God encouraged Baruch with the promise of sparing his life. Baruch’s lofty calling was simply to be a faithful minister (see Mark 10:45) and he had be content with God’s appointment (see Phil. 4:11). Warren Wiersbe has suggested from this passage that when it seems like our work and witness are useless, we should remember for whom we are doing them, and note the three facts listed below:
- God knows our trials. Baruch could have had an easier life, but he chose to identify himself with the most unpopular man in the land. God knows what we are going through and will bring us through (Isa. 43:1-2)
- God hears our words. Like any servant of God, Baruch had his difficult days when he felt everything was falling apart. However, God heard his cries of frustration just like He hears our words all the time (Psalms 28:6-7)
- God meets our needs. Baruch was alive and cared for because he was associated with Jeremiah. God will meet all needs if we trust Him. If we are going to seek great things, we should seek them for God and not for ourselves (Matt. 6:33).
Kelly commented on Jeremiah chapter 45 as follows: "The great lesson for Baruch was that in a day of judgment the proper feeling for a saint and servant of God is an absence of self-seeking. Lowliness of mind always becomes the saint, but in an evil day, it is the only safety. Humility is always morally right, but it is also the only thing that preserves from judgment."
Unlike Baruch who became bitter with God for withholding what he wanted, we can choose to be thankful because God has already supplied what we need. Let us not seek great things after ourselves but trust in God and remember God’s word that instructs us: "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Heb 13:5-6)