By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin
Understand the will of the Lord. Ephesians 5:17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Recently I had an enlightening conversation with a friend. The topic is irrelevant to this post, but the theme is most applicable. The gest of our conversation was the hurdles and struggles of understanding people and trying to figure out our relationships with them.
My friend quoted a section of a prayer attributed to Saint Francis.
“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love.”
I think this prayer is in the will of the Lord as stated in Ephesians five and is a fine objective for anyone to attain. It is basically asking God to help us put others above ourselves. Jesus taught this principle throughout His earthly ministry. We are exhorted that it is better to serve than to be served. We are commanded that if someone asks us to walk a mile with their burden, to actually go two miles.
But I have to ask if any human being is truly capable of accomplishing the feat of putting someone else’s welfare above their own. The young ruler in Matthew 19 and Mark 10 was “almost complete.” He had kept “all these” commandments but lacked one thing. He could not put others welfare above his own; at least not to the extent Jesus asked of him. Jesus asked him to sell all he had and give to the poor.
The Bible tells us he couldn’t do it and went away grieving. Jesus then tells His disciples who had been eavesdropping that it is very hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23-24)
This passage is not about the evils of money and of being rich, though some teach it is. If it is about the evils of being rich, why do the disciples ask, “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25) This question is inclusive. They were worried. Why? They weren’t rich.
Could it be that Peter understood that he also had trouble putting others first even though he had little? Did the disciples understand that they too were basically selfish and wanted their own needs met before worrying about others even though they had left all? There are numerous examples of the disciples displaying attitudes of, “Me first.” Were they truly saved?
But, Jesus answers their sincere question in verse 26.
And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible.”
What exactly is impossible with people…Salvation!
And what exactly is possible with God…All Things; Including Salvation!
The problem for the young ruler wasn’t his riches. It was his lack of faith…faith that if he put others’ welfare above his own, Jesus would take care of him. He didn’t understand that Jesus could and was very willing to take care of all his needs and more. The young ruler didn’t understand that Jesus could take much better care of him than he could take care of himself. He didn’t understand that true abundance was found only in Jesus.
This is the difference between the disciples and the rich young ruler. It wasn’t the money. It was the lack of a faith understanding. The disciples put their faith in Jesus. They believed He was the Messiah; the Lamb of God. And Jesus commends them for this in verse 28
Did the Twelve always understand what the will of the Lord was? Not always in the specifics. Just like us they often allowed their selfish desires to override their daily faith. But, except for one (Judas), they always kept the understanding faith of their First Love and through His power they were able to love others even unto death.
Jesus finished this lesson on faith with the admonition in verse 30.
But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Photo By: Margaret Richards | http://richardsandcompany.smugmug.com/