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Archive for November, 2008

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.  1 Cor 9:12

In the context of this verse the apostle Paul is commenting on his right, as a minister of the gospel, to receive financial assistance from those he ministers to.  But rather than see the spread of the gospel hindered among them, he preferred rather to endure the hardship of going without.  What wisdom from God!

Just a few chapters earlier Paul had counseled the Corinthians on their unwise and ungodly practice of bringing lawsuits against one another before the unbelieving world.  “Why do you not rather accept wrong?  Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?”  (1 Corinthians 6:7).  How we cringe at the very suggestion of such a thing.

There is something in our human nature that leads us to feel as though we are entitled to certain things.  One of those things is fairness.  If someone crosses us or treats us poorly we want them to know about.  We probably want other people to know about it as well.  And we want it to be made right.  So we broadcast our offense because we feel entitled to something better.  It’s only fair.  Thus we reason with ourselves and justify our actions and attitudes. 

And the gospel of Christ is hindered because we insist on our “rights”.

My heart aches over the times I have hindered the gospel of Christ because I felt entitled to dwell on petty offenses.  What small thinking this is.  Let us consider Christ, who of all people was treated most unfairly.  Yet he endured the shame of it all.  Why?  For the joy that was set before Him.

There is for us also a joy that awaits.  It is the joy of hearing the very voice of our own Lord Jesus saying “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”  For this brief little moment called life there will be the pain of suffering silently, but oh what bliss to know that we have not hindered the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

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“And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching.” Mark 11:18

Jesus has just cleansed the temple, driving out the money changers and bringing accusation against those who had turned God’s house into a den of thieves. To grasp the significance of this event, picture Jesus ordering a group of hardened-hearted business men away from their profitable occupation. He was certainly outnumbered, but he physically upset their work area, rebuked them publicly and ordered them out. And they went! His actions proclaimed loudly “Not in My house!” This authority is what drew the admiration of the people and the hatred of the religious establishment.

I wonder if the scribes and chief priests had received some financial benefit from the marketplace they had allowed in the temple. People do get angry when you touch their wallet.

Maybe they just didn’t like this “new guy” coming in and making all kind of changes and gaining a following. He wasn’t even part of their group. Any maybe just the fact that He never even wanted to be part of their group infuriated them.

I suppose these things are possible, but they are speculation. The verse tells us that they feared Him because of the reaction of the people to His teaching. And while they may have disregarded some of His teachings, surely they remembered these (to list just a few):

He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” Mark 7:9

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Matthew 23:25-26

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Mathew 23:27-28

His teaching threatened their position, their authority and their respectability. They had much to lose and they were not willing to let that happen. So they resorted to murder.

The presence of Jesus is still a threat to many. He threatens their belief in the sufficiency of their own goodness. He threatens their desire to create their own standard of right and wrong and live by their own rules. He threatens their trust in themselves as the master of their own destiny.

Really there are only two possible responses. You will either look upon Him with amazement, seeing Him as the only Savior to deliver you from your sins, or you will harden your heart against Him. But one thing is certain – you will not meet Jesus Christ and be unchanged.

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