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“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
Pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick except the one who has it. The need to inform others of one’s importance is a telling sign of insecurity and the inability to be comfortable in one’s own skin. The great paradox of scripture, however, is that we become great by becoming little; we increase by decreasing.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven…And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS'” (Matthew 7:21,23).
Sometimes the words of our Lord speak so pointedly that it makes us uncomfortable. Just as a coach can come across as short, loud, and demanding, resulting from his understanding of the level of commitment necessary to be victorious, our Lord understands the greater urgency when it comes to matters of eternal consequence. Lip service is never sufficient. True belief is evident in obedience.
“And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow’” (Matthew 13:3).
In this agriculturally based parable, one expects to read that a farmer went out to sow. Neither a farmer nor a farmhand exclusively sows. Sowing is but one of the many different tasks required in farming. That Jesus speaks of a sower as a specific vocation highlights what he considered his primary task but also the priority role of the church—planting, proclaiming, and scattering the word of God in the field of our lives. All other activities are secondary.
“That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach” (Matthew 13:1-2).
The Great Commission Jesus gives to his disciples is but a continuation of the mission he modeled in his own life. Jesus never intended for the gospel to be housebound; cooped up in sanctuaries; sequestered away in hiding from the world that desperately needs us to be salt and light. Sitting in a sanctuary might scratch your religious itch but it will not fulfill the call of Christ that beckons us to get up, go, and engage the crowds.
“He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9).
While many sounds fall upon the human ear each day—voices, music, traffic, nature—you, alone, are responsible for what captures your attention. Jesus’ declaration holds each of us accountable for how we hear and respond to the teaching of God’s word and the truth of the gospel. Where an attentive ear is lacking, there is the tendency to stop listening too soon. According to the Parable of the Sower, this has disastrous results 75% of the time.
“It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain” (Exodus 32:19).
The most significant question in time and eternity isn’t whether or not there is a god but, rather, who or what is your god. People are always going to have a god; an object of adoration that they worship…even the most avowed atheist. The masses drift to gods of their own fashioning; golden calves, if you will; gods with no rules; gods that entrust you with the freedom to do what is right in your own eyes. The pursuit of such gods, however, play to the least common denominators of human existence; they appeal to our base desires. In contrast, the one true God has a plan that, when followed, raises the bar and seeks to bring out the unlimited possibilities dwelling within each person. Only a loving God sees more in his children than they see in themselves and seeks to instruct them accordingly.
“And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” (Matthew 11:6).
To the question of uncertainty as to whether or not he was the Expected One, Jesus offered a kind and gracious addendum in his response to John. Jesus did not say, “Blessed are those who never have doubts.” Nor did he say, “Blessed are those who have a Pollyanna faith regardless the trials they face.” No, what he affirms is the blessed state of those who do not throw their faith away when God fails to meet their expectations. It’s the assurance that those who endure their season of doubt will arrive to see the faithfulness of God in ways that exceed all expectations.