Today’s Reading: Matthew 8:18-22, 18:1-5, 19:1-2; Mark 9:33-41, 10:1; Luke 9:46-62
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:23-27).
TURN FROM YOUR SELFISH WAYS.
What great advice for the disciples and what great advice for us today. The disciples did not quite get this lesson the first time they heard it, just as we struggle to overcome our own selfish tendencies day after day.
Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest” (Luke 9:46-48).
Every year during baseball season, Scott and I have the same debate – which major league baseball team is better – the Chicago Cubs or the St. Louis Cardinals? It seems obvious to me which team is the best, yet every year the Cardinals and Cubs fans spend hours arguing over which is the better team and which is the better ballpark. Now this rivalry between sports teams is all in fun and simply a part of the American culture, but what Jesus is warning us about here is a different kind of pride.
DO NOT THINK TOO HIGHLY OF YOURSELF.
Before you dismiss this thought too quickly, take time to allow the Holy Spirit to remind you of the last time you assessed someone before really getting to know them. We often judge others by their appearance or their financial situation or their family heritage. This mindset of considering ourselves to be better than other people can and will get in the way of us truly following Jesus.
John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”
But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.” – Luke 9:49-50
We cannot pick and choose WHERE we go if we are sincerely following Jesus wherever He is at work.
We cannot pick and choose WHO we minister to if we are sincerely following Jesus to whomever He is leading us to.
We cannot pick and choose WHAT we do if we are sincerely following Jesus doing what He wants us to do.
We cannot pick and choose WHEN we follow Jesus so that it only fits into our schedule where it is convenient, giving Jesus only our leftover time.
As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
He said to another person, “Come follow me.”
The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”
But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:57-62
Chris Tomlin wrote a song that speaks of this kind of commitment – a song of turning from selfish ways to complete surrender. Chris explained the song’s meaning: “The chorus of this song makes some pretty bold claims. Who you love, I’ll love. How you serve, I’ll serve. Where you go, I’ll go. Even if I lose my life, I’ll follow you. While those words might be a true expression of the heart, when we hear them coming out of our own mouths, it should still be a little sobering. Are we really considering the implications of what we’re saying?…” [www.songfacts.com]
Can we sincerely say this is our song to Jesus today? Are we willing to love, to serve, to go, to lose? Are we truly willing to follow?
Lord, I pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal in me today any selfishness or pride. I pray that I will recognize the moments when I think too highly of myself. I long for complete surrender to follow you wherever you may lead.
This week we have been vacationing on the beaches of Florida. Almost daily I have stood with my feet in the ocean in complete amazement of how powerful and wonderful God is. The words of this song have played across my heart time and time again. They come to my mind again this morning in response to God’s call through these Scriptures.
“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.
Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.
And my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior.”
[Matt Crocker, Joel Houston, and Salomon Ligthelm; 2012 Hillsong Music Publishing]