The Word for today:
mark this: Matthew 8:19-20 --
Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, 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."
We get all kinds of ideas mixed in with God's truth. I ran into a high school classmate just a few months ago. I'd hardly known the person then, so conversation was forced at best.
"What are you up to these days?"
"Well, for the most part I'm a Bible teacher."
"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for life."
I didn't have the heart to tell her that the one Bible verse she thought she knew isn't in the Bible at all.
There's nothing wrong with the her favorite "verse." What's wrong is that we've watered down God's outlook with our own.
Even believers are prone to these misconceptions. One such notion, which scripture plainly refutes, is that everyone is equally rewarded in heaven. Like "Give a man a fish," it sounds good--except that it's not biblical. This ought to blow away the misconception:
Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold (1).
There is a difference between being a believer (saved) and a disciple (used of God). A person can be saved by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, but a person will never follow and serve Him until he is willing to make a sacrifice.
All runners run. But then there are the champions. They run to win:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever (2).
It's to the champion that I direct the rest of these remarks.
Perhaps you want to honor Jesus with your best. Perhaps you desire not only to play your drum for him but to play your best for him. Don't let anyone dissuade you.
But before you set out, the Bible cautions you to count the cost:
You cannot be my disciple unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life. You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. What is the first thing you will do? Won't you sit down and figure out how much it will cost and if you have enough money to pay for it? (3)
Are you still there, Champ?
One by one, other readers have begged off. The price is steep. None of the rewards are guaranteed in the here and now.
But if you're still there, and you've counted the cost, then put your hand to the plow and don't look back (4).
Willing to pay the price, to take up your cross and follow him, you'll enter into the fellowship of his sufferings (5).
You can look forward to sharing his deprivation:
Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, 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." (6)
You can look forward to being persecuted for his name's sake:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (7)
And, as the apostle Paul explained, you can look forward to a crown.
Upon receiving it, you will yank it off your head and cast it at the feet of Jesus (8). Such a gesture is worth whatever it costs. Such a moment is worth more than the life you'll spend for it.
Because a disciple never runs for the crown or for the crowd. Disciples run for that moment, for that gesture--for the King.
(1) Matthew 19:28-29; (2) 1 Corinthians 9:24-25; (3) Luke 14:26-28; (4) Luke 9:62; (5) Philippians 3:10; (6) Matthew 8:19-20; (7) Matthew 5:10-12; (8) Revelation 4:10