“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?’” (Luke 12:13-14 ESV).
One of the most persistent human endeavors is to attempt to compel God to do our will. An observation of worldwide religious activities reveals that many of those things we call “worship” are actually attempts to persuade or coerce “god” to perform actions which we desire to be done. These include the many fertility rituals, much sacrifice, and even many prayers. Continue reading “Setting God’s agenda”
I think I know what I need. That’s my first mistake. Then I work my fingers to the bone going after what I’m sure I need. That’s my second mistake. After that, the mistakes just keep multiplying.
David acted crazy before the Philistine chief Abimelech because he thought that was the solution to his danger (1 Samuel 21:10-15). It was a crazy strategy for what he thought he needed. Supposedly, it got him out of hot water. But did it? Continue reading “Make no mistake about it”
“Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, he is calling you.’ … So Jesus answered and said to Him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘ Rabboni, that I may receive my sight'” (Mark 10:49, 51).
All people have desires and needs. Some are poorer than others, with greater and more obvious physical needs. Others have needs that are emotional, social, or spiritual, but just as if not more urgent. Some needs are obvious, but not all. In traveling to less developed parts of the world I see many beggars. Some are blind. Others are crippled. Some are simply poor and many are old, without income or family to help. When I see them I am often moved with pity and want to help. But I also recognize that I may not see their true needs, or be able to give that which will genuinely help them. Continue reading “What do you want?”
“I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; how can I defile them?” (Song of Solomon 5:3 NKJV).
I am continually impressed with the concern of Christian brothers and sisters for my welfare while I am with them in Bangladesh and Nepal. It is normal for them to give me their best room and furniture for my stay, to feed me at a higher standard than that to which their family is accustomed, and to show every kindness and courtesy in providing whatever it may seem that I need. They do this without being asked, and even sometimes when I have requested that they not do so much.
I remember one occasion when I stumbled and fell stepping off a porch onto an unsteady and uneven set of rock steps. Almost before I could get back on my feet a brother was taking apart the steps and rebuilding them so I would not fall again. It was not even his house.
Unfortunately, that is not the norm everywhere in our relations with one another. The experience cited above from the Song of Solomon is perhaps more typical. The heroine of the story (called in the NKJV “The Shulamite”) tells of a night when her new husband came in late. She had already retired and resented having her sleep interrupted. “I have already washed my feet and dressed for the evening – why must I get up and undo all of that?” Doesn’t that sound familiar? Predictably, her reluctance to greet him created a strain in the marriage.
So often it is only our own need or convenience that we consider important. “It is all about me.” Not only is this un-Christian and un-Biblical, it is counter-productive. It is precisely this attitude which Jesus targeted when he promised, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
It is not only by dying that one may lose his life. It is also by renouncing personal selfishness in favor of doing for others first (see Philippians 2:2-4). The more we seek to gain for ourselves at the expense or to the neglect of others, the less we will have. That is what the Bible teaches, unequivocally, for everyone.
In the days of Haggai, the people of Judah had put their own affairs first, building houses for themselves while neglecting the rebuilding of the Temple, which was their stated purpose for returning from Babylon (Haggai 1:4). As a result the Lord spoke:
“You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6).
By seeking only what was important to themselves and neglecting those things for which God had sent them back from captivity, they had become impoverished.
“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away” (Haggai 1:9).
The solution to their need was simple. Trust the Lord and put him first, and he would assure them of blessing. “Consider now from this day forward . . . from this day I will bless you” (Haggai 2:18-19). Once they had resumed work on the temple, God removed the famine and drought and gave them prosperity.
So Jesus taught,
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
The path to blessing and prosperity is not selfishness, it is service, accompanied by faith.