Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Word Wednesday - Matthew 19 - and a prayer...

The Rich Man - Matthew 19

16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” the man asked.
And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
27 Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”
28 Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.

This has always been one of my favorite passages of scripture... for many different reasons, but today I want to focus on the last part of it. 

Verses 29 - 30 are scriptures that I've clinged to most of my adult life. We may give up houses for a number of reasons... I think that it represents wealth as a whole. Sacrificing luxuries for the advance of the gospel. 

It seemed easier to write about this aspect of it when we were poor... really poor. There were years that we lived paycheck to paycheck, and didn't have much to share. We used credit cards to pay for medical expenses, and often had to do without things that others considered "normal" in life... to us they were luxuries. We couldn't afford them.

Now, our life is very different - but I tend to hold it all very loosely! I'm grateful for our home - but we could live with much less - square footage, furnishings (and I think many would be surprised that it's not top of the line, and it's more creatively decorated than "expertly" designed!), but it's home. It's becoming home. I had a hard time moving here... it's by far the "nicest" home we've ever had, and I think it's too big, too fancy... but for this season, it's where God has us. I look forward to seeing how HE will fill it! 

And HE can move us - to a different house, or a different city, or even another country where houses look very different - any time He wants to! That's ok by me!!

The second part of the verse is a little different, but just as important... giving up family for the sake of the gospel. How hard it is when family members choose to let their opinions of your relationship with God separate them from you... but I know from our family's own fractured state, that it happens all too often. But don't be dismayed! He EXPECTS it to happen! We are supposed to love God the most, our spouses next, then our children, siblings and parents, etc. We can show our parents respect (v19), and not cower down to their wishes to leave our faith. Our relationship with Jesus is, and always will be, the most important relationship we have. When our family members are non-believing, we can still love them (absolutely! EVEN Jesus loves them!!) but not give in to them. We can honor God by showing them kindness, pray for them in their relationship with God, their salvation, and their relationships with others (including us), and also pray for God to send other believers into their lives to impact them. 

It's so hard to step away from unhealthy relationships in family, but sometimes the best thing we can do is "tough love" our kids (we had a season of that too; you can read about it here, here, and here), or put space between our parents. I think that the only relationship we have to really fight for is with our spouse... it's so easy for Satan to wiggle in and cause problems there. Even if a spouse is unbelieving we are told to stay in the relationship and pray for them, show love to them, honor them... UNLESS the relationship is abusive... then that's different all together. 

Have you ever had to distance yourself from a family member for the sake of the gospel? How did it affect you? How did it affect them? Did you stay close in the relationship? How did that affect you? Them? 

Have you struggled with owning possessions and wealth, or has love of money come between you and the Lord? What have you learned in your life over these things? 

I hope that you'll share what your thoughts and opinions are, and how God has worked in you and through you in these areas...

Lord, I pray for each of us that will read this blog, continue to grow in us and to always love you "more" - More than money and material possessions, more than our parents and siblings, more than our children. Give us grace to love them the way YOU love them, but for none of things to have such a hold on us that it draws us away from You. Give us wisdom and discernment, and teach us to let You have control of these things, and people, in our lives. We love You... and it's in Your Name we pray... amen.