Thursday, September 1, 2016

Luke 14:25-33 Winning by Losing

KEY TEXT: Luke 14:28-33 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. 

KEY THOT: Jesus compares discipleship with building construction and warfare. The goal of construction is completing the building and the goal of warfare is winning it. But in order to complete the building or win the war, we must be totally committed to that goal of finishing and winning. There are three things that can sabotage our completing the building or winning the war: viz., family, self and possessions.
  • Family: The first thing that can sabotage our finishing the task is family relationships: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters… he cannot be my disciple” (v. 26). Nothing can be more important to us in this life than our family relationships. Yet Jesus expects those who want to be his disciples to be totally committed to him and his kingdom agenda by putting loyalty to him above our family. Jesus is not anti-family, but we will not appreciate nor love our family until we have first totally surrendered them to God. For example, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son but yet it was only when he was willing to sacrifice his son that he received him back—and with him the promise of a multitude of other sons and daughters (read in Genesis 22). 
  • Self: The second thing that can sabotage our finishing the task is self: “yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (vv.26-27). Here the issue is fear of death and deprivation of self. Jesus is saying that if we want to follow him unreservedly, we must be prepared even to lose our lives and suffer for his sake--symbolized by the metaphor of cross-carrying. (Some Christians mistakenly think that they can substitute carrying the cross on their shoulders with wearing it around their necks.) But what Jesus is really saying is that if we are not willing to surrender our self completely, we will ultimately lose it, not gain it: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). 
  • Possessions: The third thing that can prevent us from finishing and winning is possessions: “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (v.33). The thing that we have to renounce or give up is “all that he has”. Worldliness is defined in scripture as the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16, NKJV). These lusts drive us to acquire and to possess. As long as we are driven by such worldly desires, we will remain ineffective disciples of Christ. The devil only needs to dangle the latest worldly pleasures and pursuits, and we are off the kingdom road and away from finishing the building and winning the war.
    But possessions are not what we are called to renounce, but the erroneous idea that we are owners of our possessions instead of stewards. Owners can do whatever they like with what they have, but stewards cannot. Stewards manage the possessions on behalf of someone else and so can only use them as directed by their bosses. So, Scripture has consistently describes believers and disciples as stewards of God's possessions, to manage them for His glory and purpose, not embezzle them to satisfy our selfish pleasures. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to ourselves, our families, others and His kingdom agenda. One day, we will have to give an account to the Lord on how we have used our time, money, talents while we're here on this side of eternity.
So, the only way to be finishers and winners in the Christian race is to surrender all things so that we may gain everything. Again, a famous quote by Jim Elliot (1926-1956), the young American missionary-martyr in Ecuador will help us summarize today’s lesson: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Father, thank You that it is only in surrendering that we become finishers and winners, for You have made us more than conquerors through him who loved us. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your comments.