by Dave Miller
In a small duplex church gathering the girls like to call “da plex”, we continued our study in the Gospel of Luke. After many many months listening to the Spirit’s leading in our church through Luke, we came to chapter 18 and read, “Now he told them parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up.” It was timely.
I am privileged to watch a group of twenty-somethings, children, one middle-aged couple, and a few more advanced in age and wisdom, partner in the gospel. We know that Lord has called us to catalyze and contribute to planting churches in 125 people groups in our city and release the leadership to those out of the harvest. An impossible task.
There is consistently an atmosphere of tenacity and expectation driven by a solid faith in ability of our God to accomplish everything He said he would do. People from every tribe, tongue, and nation, are topics of conversation, along with accountability, prayer, and strategy. They live and breathe the completion of the Great Commission in our corner of the planet. But sometimes, the task bears heavy, and light burden promised by Jesus, morphs into a frustrating and restless feeling that somehow what we long to see may never be. Insert Luke 18.
Jesus had been walking with his disciples, now apostles, in incredible ministry! Sick healed! The blind see! Demons obeyed their commands! Fame was spreading and anticipation of the coming Kingdom was boiling over. In the middle of it all, Jesus tells of a widow who just wouldn’t leave an unrighteous judge alone. Day after day after day she kept coming seeking justice against someone who wronged her and he said, “I will give her justice, so that she doesn’t wear me out by her persistent coming.” Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God grant justice to his elect who cry our to him day and night? Will he delay in helping them? I tell you that he will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” In other words, will we keep persisting or will we quit?
Pride and humility effect much more than we realize. In this case, they determine our persistence. Here’s how…
There was a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee was full of pride and looked down on everyone else. He was standing in the temple praying aloud about himself. “God, I thank you that I’m not like other people — greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” The tax collector stood far away and wouldn’t even look to heaven as he struck his chest and said, “God, have mercy on me a sinner!”
Jesus said, “I tell you, [the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Pride leads to a fall. Humility leads to honor. The author Luke further drives this point home.
First the humble. Little children started piling on Jesus as their parents brought them to be touched by Jesus. The disciples rebuked them and Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Second the prideful. A rich young ruler approaches Jesus as a mere teacher looking to validate himself. Jesus would have none of if and told him, “Sell all you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.” The rich young ruler was humiliated because his wealth and works did not give him what he expected. Sadness overtook his heart because pride stood in his way.
Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God. For it is easier for a camel to go though the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” Everyone was amazed! “Who then can be saved?” If even the blessed in this life aren’t fit for the kingdom then who is? Jesus replies, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Third the ultimate humility. Jesus turns to his disciples and predicts his death. “Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles, and he will be mocked, insulted, spit on; and after they flog him, they will kill him, and he will rise on the third day.
Those who are humble will be exalted. Those who are prideful will be brought low. Pride convinces us we are worthy, entitled, and elite. Humility leaves us dependent, obligated, and ordinary. The humble do not assume, the humble hope. The humble do not demand, the humble wait. The humble do not seek honor, the humble seek duty. The humble do not seize position, the humble receive honor. The humble know their place. We are the widows, tax collectors, little children and the begging blind man who cannot see until we come to Jesus for all we need. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who entrusted his very life, to the authority and plan of the Father. And in so doing, he was raised as King of kings and Lord of lords.
So with the disciples we say, “We have left everything to follow you!” and Jesus promises, “Truly I tell you, there is not one who has left a house, wife or brothers or sisters, parents or children because of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more at this time, and the eternal life in the age to come.”
If your prayer life struggles, or you are beginning to lose heart, ask yourself what you expect you deserve. And if there you find a root of pride, die to yourself, and return to Jesus for what you need.
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...