Posted on July 14, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
What if the person that poked you, cut you off, spoke harshly, hurt you, or was just annoying, crossed your path because God intended you to pray for them? What if the annoyance was used to get your attention, so you would notice their struggle, and pray? What if you could see past your irritation, and become aware of God’s work in yours and their life? What if you were there as Jesus’ ambassador to engage in the Spirit’s work of salvation, so they could encounter Jesus’ kind of love..?
When Christ asserted that whatever we prayed in His name would be accomplished (John 14:13), He wasn’t saying, ‘throw my name on the end of anything you say and it’s yours!’ If that were true, I would be driving my mustang! We, as Believers, are sent out as Jesus’ ambassadors to speak in His place, just like the US Ambassador speaks for the office of the Presidency. So what we are to proclaim is not of our will or desire, but of His, and we know from His own words that it is Jesus’ desire to glorify the Father. So… what we pray then is in accordance with Jesus’ Words, that conforms to His desire to glorify the Father… and that is what will be accomplished.
The disciples tried to keep a bunch of children from annoying Jesus, you know.. So the real and important spiritual work wouldn’t be interrupted. But Jesus scolded them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.” (Matt 19:14-15 NLT) What is it to be like these children? Is it to be like the child who mimics his Father that he loves, desiring to be like him in every way? When the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt 18: 1-4 NLT)
Consider how many times Jesus was pulled on, interrupted, asked to do something without regard for his time. How often was He taken advantage of, rejected, accused, ridiculed, lied about, all leading to His unjust trial, false allegations, and execution..? Do you find these things annoying? But each time Jesus responded in these incidents with compassion and humility. He saw past the sinner to the human being created in the image of God. Even when the people were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13) He was weeping for their misguided intentions and willful hearts. ‘We are to think of ourselves the same way Christ Jesus thought of Himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.’ (Philippians 2:5-8 MSG) ‘Think of all the hostility Jesus endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary or annoyed, and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin… or annoyance.’ (Hebrews 12: 3-4 NLT)
Believers are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. But instead, we spend more time as the city on a hill with accusations loaded and judgments ready to be launched. Jesus said, “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matt 5:13-16) I remember a book on evangelism that sat on my Dad’s shelf that talked about this stuff; it was called “Out of the Salt Shaker.” Its premise was that salt was only effective if it was spilled out or shaken onto something else. I guess they could have written a sequel about the light called, “From under the Basket.” In God’s economy, both of these, salt and light, describe how we are used by the Spirit, to impact the lives of others. The Salt is turned over (annoyed) and shaken into another’s life to enhance the quality of their character, as well as to preserve their life. The light is shined into a person’s life to expose (annoyed) what is hindering them from enjoying a personal relationship with Jesus, the Christ. It is also used to bring understanding, warmth, and security; as it extinguishes the darkness.
Our reactions are the only things that are truly in our control. Would it not make a massive difference if we humbly allowed the Spirit to guide us into all truth and direct all our responses in any given circumstance… even the annoying ones? Jesus says He will do this if we let him… like recorded in John 16:13-15. What if we forgave as Jesus forgives us? Remember Peter’s question, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!… meaning stop keeping count.” (Matt 18:21-22) How about when Jesus said this, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as real children of your Father in heaven. He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even evil people do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even skeptics do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:43-48)
We have the opportunity to be the difference in any given circumstance. What would it take to convince you of this? Well, “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself through his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” ( 2 Peter 1: 3-4 NLT) Okay, that’s pretty cool, but is it enough to get you to deny your own control? How about this, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” (Romans 8: 31-34 NLT)
The question to be answered here hasn’t changed, it is the same one that was proposed in the Garden, with Adam and Eve; “will you choose to trust God’s word and do what glorifies the Father, being obedient to His Word and live with unfeigned dependence as Jesus did? Or, will you choose what satisfies your own desires and makes you feel you have some form of control?
The choice is yours, Choose Wisely…
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Think About This: “Lower your expectations of earth. This isn’t heaven, so don’t expect it to be.” – Max Lucado
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I, therefore, the prisoner [a]of the Lord, [b]beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.