Make An Investment!
I’m always humored by the response I receive from individuals when they find out I teach the 8th grade. “Oh my goodness, that’s a rough age…Do they even listen?...I know I couldn’t do it.” As I listen to their responses, I often think about how adults, or even more so religiously mature Christians aren’t that different. There are many times when I have to give life lessons to my students about being investing in their education and maintaining a teachable spirit.
Scenario: Student A makes all A’s, but their character, revealed through their smart mouth, will often make you yell out “Jesus be a fence” at the blatant disrespect they pour out. On the contrary, Student B is in the C range, but works hard, ask questions, and has a desire to do better. I bet you can guess which student finds favor in my eyes… Yea, Student B!!!! I often tell my students how I value a kind heart, good character, and an effort to learn, greater than straight A’s.
As I replay this scenario at least once a day, I find myself pondering similar situations amongst the saints. Think about the Pharisees, they followed rules and “appeared” to be perfect Christians, but lacked the heart of Christ. They refused to invest in their relationship with Christ privately, which led them to being rebuked publically. In Matthew 23, Jesus exposes the Pharisees for their hypocritical behavior.
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean (Matthew 23:25-26).
Here, Jesus reveals to the Pharisees the significance of investing in your inner man more than your outer man. It’s interesting how today, I meet believers who are so invested in how they appear on the outside that they stop taking time out to be filled with the Spirit of God.
Now don’t get me wrong, we are to serve God with excellence, but we can easily find ourselves serving our flesh if we don’t spend time with the Lord. Matthew 7:21-23 states,
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
We cannot afford to be doing busy work and working for the sake of saying ,” Oh, I do this…and that….” It’s through our personal relationship with Christ that we are given eternal life. I know some may say “Faith without works is dead” BUT if you are spiritually dead what faith will you have to complete kingdom led works??? ***Take a few sips of tea and let this marinate****
On the contrary, his faithful followers (the disciples) were your C range students. These were the individuals who didn’t always do everything perfectly and on the outside, to many, they were probably not the pick of the litter, but they had a heart for God and desire to follow his way. There were many times Jesus offered the correction directly or through a parable (See Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John). Regardless of the delivery of correction, they gained the opportunity of becoming friends with Christ.
You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15).
The relationship demonstrated here is what we all should strive to attain with Christ. Although, we serve him, he desires to have a relationship with us. By being in relationship with Christ, the disciples were spiritually filled and given the power to operate just as he did by prophesying, preaching, teaching, healing, and delivering people. Their ability to do such things was completely connected to the time they spent with Christ. They literally submitted and surrendered their lives to the calling God had for them.
It’s wasn’t enough to simply answer the call and just sit. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the sower and demonstrates what happens when people receive the word, but don’t allow it to take root in their hearts.
19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom [regarding salvation] and does not understand and grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and at once welcomes it with joy; 21 yet he has no [substantial] root in himself, but is only temporary, and when pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles and falls away [abandoning the One who is the source of salvation]. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times [as much as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.”
As believers, we need to invest most of our time in knowing our Father and gaining an understanding of him and his word. By doing so, we are able to bear fruit and walk in the fruits of his spirit (See Galatians 5:22). Don’t be the self-righteous Christian who has lost touch with the ways of the Father. With relationship comes understanding and with understanding comes direction. Know the God you serve and allow him to direct every aspect of your life.