It’s been said that we spend more time thinking about the past or planning the future than we spend living in the moment. I think there’s a fair amount of truth to that statement, wouldn’t you agree?
I’ve been reading through the book of Luke lately and I am absolutely riveted by it. I’m not sure I’ve ever read the whole book through. Like you, I’m familiar with many portions of it, like the Christmas passages. Who can forget Linus from the Peanuts reciting from Luke 2 and saying “that, Charlie Brown, is what Christmas is about”?
But I’ve never just read through it. Like the rest of the Word, it’s simply beautiful. Today, the last two verses of Chapter 9 gave me much to chew on. Here’s what verse 61 and 62 say:
“Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home. But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
There are many things within just these two verses that struck a chord with me. Let’s explore them, shall we?
A man says to Jesus here, “I will follow You, Lord; BUT FIRST. . .” I wonder how often the Lord has heard that? Not from our lips, but from our hearts. We all have our “but first” moments. I had many of them.
But first, let me do what I want to do.
But first, let me read every self-help book written and clean myself up.
But first, let me continue in my sin for just a little longer.
But first, let me get a little older. Following You, Jesus is simply too confining.
And on and on. I know you have yours, too.
The answer given by Jesus here is weighty. He tells the man that no one who looks back after starting is fit for the kingdom of God. No one. Not much room for guessing there. The words no one are pretty succinct.
You cannot have your foot in two kingdoms. You cannot point your foot in one direction, while pointing your eyes in another. You are either following Christ or you’re not. The case is clearly made throughout Scripture for steadfastness as the evidence that we are true followers. I’m going to list a few with links. However, it might be helpful for you to look these up in your own Bible and have them marked for future reference. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it will get you started. These Scriptures are not making the case for having salvation, then losing it. They’re showing us that if we aren’t holding fast to the faith, we never had the salvation to begin with.
Matthew 6:24, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (pay close attention to the words “if” and “unless” in verse 2), Hebrews 3:6, Hebrews 6:4-8, Hebrews 10:26-29, Numbers 15:22-31, 1 John 2:28-29, Romans 8:9-11, and 1 John 5:13.
devotion to the master
When we read through the Gospels, we find several examples of people just like this man who found the cost of discipleship too high. Yes, salvation is a free gift. But becoming a disciple has a cost. That cost is total devotion to the Master. Not partial devotion.
There are no “nominal Christian” categories in God’s sight. You are either His child or you’re not. You either follow Him or you don’t. You either love Him or you don’t.
“You cannot point your foot in one direction, while pointing your eyes in another.”
I cannot look into your heart and see which category you fall into and it is not my place to say your spiritual condition. But God can. And you can allow Him to reveal the true devotion of your heart to you.
Those of us that are devoted to Christ will still stumble. We will still have the temptation to split our loyalties. BUT we also have the Holy Spirit that enables us to stay the course. To be steadfast and immovable. To hold fast the confession of our faith until the end. 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. We are called to self-examination. We are not to take our discipleship lightly. We are to grow in our faith continually.
So, how are we doing, friend? I am asking myself just as much as you. The Lord has convicted my heart about some pretty big things lately that need changing. I want so badly to grow in grace and knowledge daily. I want to look more like Christ today than I did yesterday. I want to put my hand to the plow and always look forward to the Lord I surrendered my life to. I want to be “fit for the kingdom of God,” don’t you? It’s only through the power of the cross and the atoning sacrifice of Christ that I can attain the righteousness required to be accepted into the kingdom of God. Praise the Lord for His lovingkindness!!