Don’t Look Back

No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62, ESV).

When I had a more fitting location than my present one, I used to grow a decent-size garden. We tried to grow pretty much everything: tomatoes, beans, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, weeds.

We grew a lot of weeds.

These days, I only have space for a few tomato plants. Not nearly as rewarding, but much less work.

I have a gas-powered, rear-tine tiller. Great machine. But you have to watch it. You can’t just turn it on and let it go. You have to stick with it. And though it does 98% of the work, the 2% I do is a pretty serious wrestling match.

It wants to go the path of least resistance. In response, I have to lift it, and scoot it, and yank it every which way, just to keep it moving straight. If I start looking around, off she goes.

In the Lord’s day, tillers and petroleum were unheard of. They used wood and metals to build farming implements they would hook on to mules or cattle. The tool and the beasts still did 98% of the work, but you had to follow and stay focused.

Beasts don’t care about straight lines. Like their mechanical counterparts, they take the path of least resistance. Or, like their mechanical counterparts, they might just decide they want to stop for no good reason.

With gardening, or even commercial farming, it takes a human being, with intelligence and determination, to direct the brute force of farming equipment. One moment of distraction could make a big difference. It could be disaster.

This is precisely what the Lord had in mind for his disciples. You can’t put your hand to the plow and then let yourself get distracted. You’re going to hurt yourself, or someone else. You have to decide, before climbing on that combine, or walking behind that tiller, or hooking up that mule, that you’re all in.

You’ve made a promise to everyone who relies on this process, that you are going to take your job seriously. You are going to pay attention. You are going to stay focused. You are going to control the one thing in the process that you can: you.

Failing that is not only to fail yourself, but everyone else.

When one decides to follow Jesus, he or she must be all-in.

Jesus offers no course in half-discipleship.

There is no trophy for showing up.

One does not become a Christian and then decide to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

One has decided that they are ready to roll up their sleeves and to go work for the Lord, so they obey the gospel.

People should not only desire to have their sins forgiven, but to spend their life working in the Lord’s vineyard.

When I offer an invitation as part of my sermons, I often remind people that they need to be forgiven.

But I also often remind them that they may be the only person in their immediate circle who knows the gospel. They need to obey the gospel so they can work with the Lord to save souls.

The Lord needs workers.

The Lord needs plowmen.

The Lord only accepts people who will grab the handle and not look back.

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Rick Kelley

I began preaching in Wallace, WV (2000-2002), and worked with the church in Proctor, WV (2002-2004). I graduated from the West Virginia School of Preaching (2004), served the church in Prestonsburg, KY as pulpit minister from 2004-2014, and am currently laboring with the Massillon, OH congregation (2014-present). Outside of biblical studies, I enjoy spending time with my much better half, Samantha, and our six children (Christian, Hannah, Noah, Emma, Evan & Leah). We have an equal parts sweet and goofy Golden Retriever (Max), a rather energetic Australian Shepherd (Mallie), and a very chill Goldendoodle (Moses).

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