Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 18 November 2022:
2 Kings 7:8, 9 – And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them. Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.”
The lepers understood that it would be a terrible sin, totally unloving, deserving of great punishment, to withhold the good news of salvation even for one day. Though they were tempted to simply enjoy their new riches, keeping them to themselves, they knew that countless others were doomed without what they had. So, they proclaimed this good news to the people who, at first, doubted. However, more “messengers” confirmed the good news, and soon multitudes rushed to receive miraculous and previously unimaginable blessings from the Lord.
What would happen if all Christians today were as convicted as these lepers to share the “good news” to those who are perishing, the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ? What will you do with the Good News and the unsearchable riches you have received in Christ? Will you hide them or “go and tell.”?
- Ephesians 1:7 — In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace….
- Ephesians 2:7 — …so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
- Ephesians 3:8 — To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ….
- Colossians 1:27 — To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
- Colossians 2:2 — that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ….
“We are not doing right…. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us.” Are you doing right with the salvation you have received through Jesus Christ? Do you feel a great sense of urgency to share the Good News with others and not wait another day?
- Acts 20:24 — But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
John 13:2-5, 12-17 — During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him…. When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Knowing Judas had already decided to betray Him unto death, Jesus washed Judas’ feet as a servant would – “He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1) Jesus then said His disciples should treat others the same way. To do otherwise would be to act as if we deserve more honor than Jesus – “A servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”
Jesus’ instructions here are easy to understand but very hard to do. However, Jesus is equally clear that those who are blessed aren’t the ones who know what they ought to do but rather those who know what to do and actually do it. So, how can we possibly live up to Jesus’ example?
Unconditionally loving those who treat us poorly has a lot to do with perspective – “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper… and began to wash the disciples’ feet.” When we fully appreciate all that God has given us, that our Sovereign God who is Love and who loves us perfectly is in complete control of everything which happens to us, that nothing can separate us from His love, that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), and that we have eternal life and eternal riches in Christ, we can love, forgive, and give confidently and joyfully without fear of loss and knowing that our loving response draws us closer to Jesus, brings glory to God, and will be blessed by God.
- 1 John 4:18 — There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
- Proverbs 22:9 — Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.
- 2 Timothy 1:7 — …for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
- Galatians 5:22-23 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….
Fear and pride (two sides of the same coin) stand in the way of love (our greatest commandment from God). We treat people poorly (and respond to circumstances inappropriately) when we don’t appreciate God’s abundant love for us and for them, and when we feel as if we need to fight for, defend, or protect what is ours, whether it be protecting our rights, our positions, our reputations, our egos, our possessions, our pleasures, or anything else. When we fear others (worrying about what they might take from us for fail to give us), we can’t love them as we should. However, when we rest securely in the perfect love and provision of God, and when we operate from an abundance mentality (having a bountiful eye), we are free to love, to forgive, and to give without fear – “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)
Jesus knew Judas had decided to betray Him, but what determined Jesus’ response was His greater knowledge of the perfect sovereignty, love, and provision of His Father. Jesus’ attitude and behavior towards others was not controlled by their unloving behavior towards Him but rather by His love for them, a love ready to go to the cross for sinners while they were still sinning — “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) If you have a hard time loving and forgiving anyone else, regardless of what they have done or are doing to you, you have a perspective problem and a love problem. If you have a problem controlling your temper (lacking the fruits of the spirit of “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”) You have a perspective problem and a love problem. Pray that God will help you truly appreciate the immeasurable riches you have in Christ, the complete and eternal security you have in Him, and the love He has for both you and for those who hurt you daily. Pray that your attitudes and actions will be controlled by His amazing grace which He bestows not only on you but also upon your enemies – “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” (Luke 6:35)
- Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Finally, knowing our Righteous Master, who gave His life for us while we were still sinners, has personally sent us into the world with a message of grace (the Gospel) for us to proclaim in word and deed, we should have more than enough motivation to surrender our supposed rights so others might believe and be saved. If we aren’t willing to carry our cross daily in relationships with others, what does that say about what we really think about the Cross of Christ? “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:4)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 November 2022: Do not hoard the unimaginable riches you have received freely in Jesus Christ. Do not hesitate another second to tell those who are perishing around you how to have eternal life. Do not sin against God and others by failing to proclaim the Good News of Jesus today! (2 Kings 7:9) Deny self, take up your cross today, and follow Jesus.