Mar 2, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
This week I helped train a bunch of people in my occupation. My occupation helps put food on the table. I get paid to do that stuff most of the time. God sets my vocation, "Go make disciples."
Let's get back to my occupation.
In every group, it seems there is one or two that know everything.
Well, at least they think they do. And that person wants to show everyone else just how much they know. You know the type. Hand in the air with every question, or more often, blurting out an answer before the end of the question arrives. They think they have all the answers and think they have all the experience and could teach the classes better than the instructor.
Most of the time, though, it doesn't take long for the "hand-waver" to show they don't know as much as they think they do. It's not long before the rest of the students start to roll their eyes when words start pouring out of the hot-shot's mouth. The rest know the answer is wrong, or at least isn't the answer that the instructor will project from the platform. The class starts to drag because no one wants to hear any more from the self-proclaimed expert.
Teaching in that environment drains you and requires intervention quickly to keep control of the situation. Otherwise, the rest of the students suffer, and the points you need to get across don't. You almost dread coming into the empty room the next day, knowing the same students will be there for round two, and you may go through the same battle again. Such is the life of instructors and teachers. Unfortunately, that's part of the job, like it or not.
The situation often reminds me of the warning Jesus gives his followers as he shares the dangers of pride. In his discourse, we call the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares these words:
"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding.
"When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure—play actors' I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
"When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. If you 'go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; he'll reward you well.
"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.(Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 TM)
Jesus pointed out what many would think were exceptional practices. Gold and silver coins make a beautiful sound when they spin around the trumpet, the conical opening of the temple treasure box at the door of the outer court. Long melodious prayers sound lovely with the ancient words from theological treatises lifted to the Lord. Giving up things you enjoy as an example to others seems a great way to mentor young followers to show them the sacrifice that discipline requires. All these are exemplary, right?
We would make these guys deacons and elders and put them on our boards and committees in a heartbeat - marvelous examples of Christian living. But not according to Jesus. Their praise from those they impress around them accounts for the sum total of their reward. That's it. God is not impressed.
What does Jesus tell us? Be yourself, do things for others, but do it in a way that no one knows about it. Secret gifts might not make it to your tax return as charitable giving, but it makes it to God's accounting records. Those random acts of kindness performed anonymously might not get headlines in the city's newspaper, but they will find their way into God's daily journal. Prayers in a secret place never tickle the ears of the congregation, but God hears and answers the prayer warrior's faithful intercession. Which do you prefer, man's recognition or God's? As for me, I'd much rather know God is paying attention to my life than my neighbors. I'd much rather know I'm following the path of righteousness God recognizes than the way of religious piety that man approves. It makes a huge difference at the end of time, standing at the judgment seat accounting for our actions. Whose reward were we seeking? The praise of men or the voice of God saying, "Well done good and faithful servant." I hope that is a rhetorical question for you.
Jesus laid out a simple way of life for us to follow - love God and love others. He qualified those two commands and said we are unable to love God whom we cannot see if we don't love others we can see. That sets the rules for us. Easy to remember, not so easy to follow. In fact, impossible to follow without his spirit living in us. But when we let him inside, when we let him control every part of us, he enables us to love as he loves. He lives through us to touch a world that needs his grace.
Will you be that secret partner to share his grace in the world? That's the command. Go do it.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked TM are taken from the THE MESSAGE: THE BIBLE IN CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH (TM): Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE: THE BIBLE IN CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH, copyright©1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group