Jesus was having a conversation with his disciples about the sickness of
Lazarus, a friend.
JESUS This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for
God‘s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.
JOHN So Jesus, you
are saying that any trial a believer faces can ultimately bring glory to God
because God can bring good out of any bad situation. When trouble comes, we
should not grumble, complain, and blame God, we should see them as opportunities
to bring honor to him.
JESUS For I tell you that unless your righteousness
surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly
not enter the kingdom of heaven.
MATTHEW So Jesus, you are saying that the
quality of our goodness should be greater than that of non-believers. They may
look good, but they are far from the kingdom of God. God judges our hearts as
well as our deeds, for it is in the heart that our real allegiance lies. We need
to be just as concerned about our attitudes that people don’t see as about our
actions that ore seen by all.
Jesus, you are saying that your believers need a different kind of good
altogether (love and obedience), not just legal compliance. Our good must (1)
come from what God does in us, not what we can do by ourselves, (2) be
God-centered, not self-centered, (3) be based on reverence for God, not approval
from people, and (4) go beyond keeping the commandments, to living by the
principles behind the law. I remember when you said,
JESUS Which of you, if his
son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give
him a snake?
MATTHEW Sometime God knows we are praying for “snakes” and does not
give us what we ask for, even though we persist in our prayers. As we learn to
know God better as a loving Father, we learn to ask for what is good for us, and
then he grants it. I also remember when you said,
JESUS Not everyone who says to
me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the
will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord,
Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and
perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away
from me, you evildoers!”
Jesus you are exposing those people who sound and act
religious but have no personal relationship with you. On “that day” (the day of
judgment), only our relationship with you – will matter. Many people think that
if they are “good” people and say religious things, they will be rewarded with
eternal life. In reality, faith in you is what will count at the judgment.
It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his
master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the
members of his household.
MATTHEW Good is sometimes labeled evil. If you Jesus,
who is perfect, is called evil, as your followers we should expect that similar
accusations will be directed at us. But those who stand firm will be vindicated.
ANDREW Sometimes what we are tempted to do isn’t wrong in itself. The sin is not
in the act but in the reason behind it. When it gets us to take a shortcut, to
solve a immediate problem at the expense of long-range goals, to seek comfort at
the sacrifice of our discipline. Satan often works that way – persuading us to
take action, even right action, for the wrong reason or at the wrong time. The
fact that something is not wrong in itself does not mean that it is good for you
at a given time. Many people sin by attempting to fulfill legitimate desires
outside of God’s will or ahead of his timetable. First ask, “Is the Holy Spirit
leading me to do this? Or is Satan trying to get me off the track?
JESUS I am
the vine: you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will
bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in
me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are
picked up, and thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words
remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. This is to my
Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
JOHN Many people try to be good, honest people who do what is right. But Jesus
says that the only way to live a truly good life is to stay close to him, like a
branch attached to the vine. Apart from you, Jesus, our efforts are unfruitful.
Are you receiving the nourishment and life offered? If not, you are missing a
special gift he has for you. I saw a man in the supermarket yesterday using a
new sporty wheelchair. When he zipped down the aisle, his chair didn’t make a
squeak. I looked down at my big clunky twenty-year-old model with dirt on the
frame and threadbare padding. Little wonder I looked with envy at his high-tech
wheels. I’d like a trade-in on my wheelchair. Perhaps the grass seems greener
down the street where they are building brand new homes. But sometimes when we
compile our desires up against God’s desires for us, I wonder how many match.
The apostle Paul says that he had learned the secret of remaining content
despite either plenty or poverty. What was the secret Paul had learned? He gave
it away in his next breath when he said that he was ready for anything through
the strength of the One who lived inside him. Contentment is found not in
circumstances. Contentment is found in a Person, the Lord Jesus. It requires a
special act of grace to accommodate ourselves to every condition of life, to
carry an equal temper of mind through every circumstance. On the one hand, only
in Christ can we face poverty contentedly, that is, without losing our comfort
in God. On the other hand, only in Christ can we face plenty and not be filled
with pride. Lord, there are many things I desire, but I really don’t need.
Subtract my desires and keep me from adding my own wants. Help me to find
satisfaction in You, for only then will I find real and lasting contentment.
(From Diamonds in the Dust by Joni Eareckson Tada) Are you content with what God
is doing for you? It can be hard to accept that God’s will for you may be less
money, a lower position, a long wait. Ask God to develop in you contentment in
trusting and obeying him. Be satisfied with where God has placed you.