Christianity isn’t a one and done experience. For in this verse we see Jesus didn’t address just the crowd but His disciples also…men that had been following Him for years…men that had witnessed first hand miracles, teaching, and preaching on a daily basis. Men that should have had this concept down pat…but obviously didn’t. Our journey as a Believer is ongoing and lifelong. It’s a daily conscious decision of our Will to give up our self and in obedience conform to the example we have before us…Jesus Christ. It’s a long and winding road of faith and life we need to daily direct our feet to follow.
Early in this Chapter, God tests Abraham by demanding his son of promise, Issac. God was refining Abraham’s character by commanding his loyalty and charging him to live in obedience. Anytime God tests us it’s for our ultimate benefit and good. Testing and sacrifice are just part of our journey towards self-discipline and holiness. Sacrifice is offering back to God the only thing I have to give… a love-gift of myself…of giving the best I have to the One I love the most.
When God told Noah to build an ark, Noah must have thought to himself, “What’s an ark?”. And even though God gave him explicit, precise and detailed instructions on the assembly of said ark, (verses 14-21)…to Noah it surely would have seemed like just an impossible dream. But it says despite not knowing exactly how he was going about it…Noah did everything just as God commanded. Now likely God hasn’t called you to build a 450′ x 75′ x 45′ boat in your back yard…but there’s probably something He is calling you into right now…and you’re resisting, because to you it’s an impossibility…but to God nothing is impossible. For God will always go before you, giving you precise and detailed instructions… just like He gave Noah.
Jesus wasn’t cocky or arrogant. Nor was He condescending, even though He had every right to act in this manner. Just imagine, God came down from heaven and willingly became nothing. He humbled Himself to the lowest of social status…a slave or servant, as an example for us to follow. Servant-hood is probably one of the hardest things to do and do well. Our selfish human nature would rather be waited on, rather than wait on others. And the whole humility and obedience thing is in direct contradiction with everything the world tells us to do. But it all starts with our attitude as the verse says. For we can bring under submission our bad attitudes and then take on the role of servant for His glory. We can extend His grace and mercy with genuine love and concern if we become humble and obedient… with Jesus as our guide.
As Believers, we all go through times that we wonder if we’re hearing God correctly. Maybe it’s times when He seems far away…or we feel we’re in a dry place in our walk with Him. That’s when this verse and Romans 8:28 needs to be before us. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” The Lord uses our gifts, talents, and passions throughout our Christian life to bring edification to others…and just because we don’t “feel it” doesn’t mean we’re still not being used of Him. We’ll all go through seasons of our life when our gift mix may wax and wane…certain ones coming to the forefront, while others seemingly retreat…but our gifts will always remain the same. The writer of Hebrews quoted Psalm 110:4 when he said, “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind.” For He is the God of the past, present and future…and He will not recall what He has already given, and His ultimate plan and purpose for our life will prevail.
The first time Jonah heard God say, “Go!”…He ran in the opposite direction. So surprisingly, when Jonah head God say, “Go!” this time, he obeyed. So what changed? Not God. His command was simple, straight forward, and didn’t waver in what He wanted Jonah to do. Nor was it the people of Nineveh who God wanted Jonah to warn. They remained a perishing and lost people of the Assyrian capital. No, the only thing that had changed was Jonah’s heart. In the belly of that great fish, Jonah had received a second chance…and with it then came an attitude adjustment on Jonah’s part. For our God is the God of second chances…from Jonah, to the Ninevites, to us… the Lord gives all of us second chances to change.
Our walk with the Lord is a process…a long, sometimes difficult passage, from what we once were, to what we are becoming. But what happens many times, we end up feeling stuck in the middle of our old and new self. So that’s when it’s time to take inventory. Turn around and take a critical view of your old self…not a pretty picture, right? Now, ponder where your life is today with the Lord’s help. It’s nothing short of a miracle in how you have grown in the knowledge of God…and with that knowledge, how you have been changed. None of us will every be able to say, “I’ve arrived!” when it comes to the full knowledge of God…but as long as we continually strive for more of Him in our lives…we’ll be making headway.