Part 1 – Part 2
It’s a shame that because of our self-esteem, many of us couldn’t become productive. In the end, we bring more shame to ourselves and the name of God which is attached to us, just because we are called His servants, or His disciples. Didn’t Paul say, if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10, verses 11 and 12 say that we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now, such persons, we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
Photo above is courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art, Walter Rane: "In Remembrance of Me"
Notice Paul’s words here in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Don’t be lazy!
Many times we think that to become the disciples of Jesus, we have to leave our work. Yes if we have no time but to serve Him. But if we do have spare time, why not? We often think that if we work again, we have committed sinned and leave our calling. If so, if we think it is a sin to work, then why don’t we just pray more or pray longer? An hour’s prayer is often considered sufficient by many of those who call themselves disciples of God. We think that we have done the words of Jesus, Matthew 26:40, could you not watch with me one hour?
Yet in the context of Matthew 26, Jesus was struggling in such a way as to face the Cross. His sweat became like blood, Luke 22:44. He wrestled a long time in the garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26:36. In the end, He finally gave up on His will, Luke 22:42. This prayer and Jesus’ struggle happened in 3 consecutive hours. Matthew 26:39-41, for the first hour. Verses 42-43, Jesus went to pray for a second time, another hour. And verse 44, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.
If Jesus gave such an example, why don’t we also as His disciples to pray more, more than once (of one hour) in the morning? Or in the day, we pray again another hour. Or pray even longer, more than an hour at one time? Our prayer in the morning, one hour of prayer, many times we feel enough. Well, it cannot be denied that praying for an hour is not an easy job. How many prayer requests should I raise to Him, we wondered. Not to mention how hard we fought against the sleepiness to get up early. But what if we use our free time during the day, 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, to pray? It’s never been an easy thing, an almost impossible task. But aren’t we agree that many prayers mean many blessings, a few prayers produce a few blessings only. A phrase by a late senior pastor who was known to pray for 8 hours every day.
But think about it, maybe that’s why the lives of many servants of God are not productive at all. Too much time we spent without any productive activities at all, what’s worse, we use those times to sleep more! When all others are busy at work, those who call themselves the servants of God busy to sleep! Don’t be surprised if many of us are poor. Go to work or pray.
Pay attention to the prayer life of the Lord Jesus, He prayed often.
When He was baptized, He prayed, Luke 3:21. Before calling His disciples, Jesus just finished praying and fasting, Matthew 4. Before walking on the water, He prayed all night, Mark 6:46. Before He raised Lazarus, He prayed, John 11:41-42. Before He broke bread for the crowd, He prayed. Before Jesus ascended to the Cross, He struggled for a long time in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26 and Luke 22. He often went alone to pray, Luke 5:16. He got up early to pray, Mark 1:35.
Not to mention that He prayed a long prayer in John 17 and taught us to pray in Matthew 6: 9-13. Even now He is praying for you who are reading this writing, Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 5:7, 7:25.
Why do we who like to call ourselves Jesus’ disciples, but we rarely do pray? If He alone who prayed before choosing His own disciples, still had one to betray Him, imagine how many would betray us if we chose our disciples without praying like Him first?
Why do we like to call ourselves disciples of Jesus, but we don’t like the hours of prayer. We always avoid these times. Maybe we are not Jesus’ disciples. Yet His call to us to be His disciples is, first of all, a call to pray, fellowship with Him in His presence, to intercede. A call to build an altar and to call upon the name of the Lord. The call to sit at His feet as Mary learned from His Word.
To be His disciple means to imitate Him who prays, right?
Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests
Luke 9:57-58, as they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Many of us want to follow Him, like this multitude that flocks around Jesus, following Him wherever He goes. But to follow Him is often driven by many different motivations. Not the right and holy ones. This motivation, which often selfish, is to pursue something which is not God’s will. Multitudes who flock around Jesus followed Him because of all the miracles and deliverances they had experienced. Later, they wanted to make Him their King, John 6:15. They followed Him because they could get free food, they followed Him for their stomachs, John 6:26. But when Jesus revealed Who He really is, many left Him, John 6:66.
Let us consider our following to Him. Are we following Him because of all the miracles, healings, and deliverances He did for us? When the truth of God’s Word is revealed, where we must carry our cross, we then become reluctant, hesitate, even refuse it. We decide that we no longer want any part of it to follow Him. This shows us that most likely we are not His disciples, we are just one of the multitudes who flock around Him. Ah, I’m not like what you said here, we are grumbling in our hearts now. But look, notice what types of sermons we choose to hear. Or writing we want to read. If everything were just about blessings, miracles, or testimonies of how God answers prayer, or 5 steps of deliverance, 7 levels of financial freedom, but not a message about the cross of God, or what self-denial and suffering means to us when we follow Him, all of these would show us that probably we are just one of the crowd who flocks around Him. Yes, this is the first type of people who follow Him, not the disciples.
Jesus said the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Luke 9:58, ESV. Here, the Lord doesn’t mean to say that He doesn’t have a pillow and bed to lie on. What does He say here is He doesn’t have a (physical) house to come home to and rest! Jesus began by saying that the wolves have holes and birds have nests, verse 57. The holes and nests are houses for wolves and birds in the air. A place to give a sense of security and protection, a place where every living being can be cared for and grow. But to follow Him is not to find a shelter. Because if our aim is simply looking for safety and protection, being healthy, blessed, and nurtured, the Lord is telling us that, hey, there is a big and expensive price you have to pay to follow Me. Do not put your focus on all mortal things such as to be blessed and successful in this world, to be established and settled. Leave them all behind to come to follow me!
Will you leave all this behind to follow Him? Including all your motivation and hidden agenda? Will you be like Jesus who went around serving the needs of many people, being the answer to them first? But to yourself, you have to leave all your needs behind, leave everything to the Lord to take care of, later. If Jesus is fully aware that He doesn’t even have a place to lay His head, why do we think that we need to be taken care of first in following Him as disciples? Becoming a disciple of Him has a very high price to pay because the first thing we need to leave behind is not really our physical work, but ourselves.
Let the dead bury the dead
Luke 9:59-60 ESV, to another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
If you would read this verse just like that, Jesus’ words would sound very harsh and disrespectful. It seems like He is teaching us to come against and be disrespectful to our parents, fathers and mothers. But in their actual translation and context, these verses say like this..
Luke 9: 59-60, Jesus then turned to the others and said, “Come, be my disciple.” The man replied, “One day I will do it, Lord, please allow me first to fulfill my duty as a good son and wait until my father dies.” Jesus said to him, “Don’t wait until your father is gone. Let those who are dead wait for death. But you, go and proclaim everywhere that the kingdom of God has arrived.”
Many of us react like this man, in verse 59. One day I will do it, Lord. One day, Lord. I still have to be a good child taking care of my parents. I still have to be a good husband and father to take care of my family. I just got married. I still have school to finish, I have a degree to accomplish. I am still working on my job and career when I succeed. Or when I retire, later. One time, Lord. Yes, many of us want to serve God, says our mouths. But our hearts never agree to this, as there are many other things we don’t want to leave behind. There are many other matters that we still want to pursue. Sometime later we will, just not now.
For all those who are like this, the Lord said, don’t wait until your father is gone. Let those who have died wait for that death. But you, go and proclaim everywhere that the kingdom of God has arrived. Don’t wait, don’t delay God’s call. There is a price to pay to follow the Lord and His calling, and that price is high. But so much better than a regret that always arrives late. If we become sick, nearly die, we will find we can do nothing more for God. And under those circumstances, regret about not answering God’s call would come and those tears were of no use at all. Because when we die in the end, do not recover from that illness, we will return to Him but we will not receive any reward or even a crown that we should have received if we would have answered His call. Don’t wait, let the dead take care of the dead. Let those who have died here means the one who died spiritually, the ones who do not understand the meaning of God’s calling, the ones who are blind to the things above, their spirituality is dull of all the divine things of God. They are the ones who only pursue all these mortal things which are eventually will perish too. Let those who die takes care of the death (life without God) itself. Let them be, said the Lord, don’t bother yourself with them. But you go and answer God’s calling. Preach the good news, God’s Kingdom has come!
When you look back, you are unfit, unworthy, of the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:61-62 ESV, yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”