Friday, September 30, 2016

Two Blind Men

There are two blind men mentioned in Mark chapter ten, but we normally do not think of the first of them as blind. We think of him as rich. We call him the “rich, young, ruler.” But in reality he was the more seriously blind of the two blind men. He was also the poorer of the two men. The other blind man was a beggar named Bartimaeus.

Come to think of it, I am wrong. There were more than two blind men mentioned in this chapter. James and John were also quite blind. They requested the places to the right and left of Jesus (37). These places were already reserved (although they did not yet know it) for a couple of thieves. James, John, and the wealthy young man were spiritually blind. Bartimaeus only suffered from physical blindness -- a serious handicap, no doubt, but not nearly as serious as the spiritual blindness.

Jesus, as you know, was starting a journey when the rich young man asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him to abandon what he had and follow on the journey. The young man was not willing to leave what he had. He refused the invitation (22).

Bartimaeus, on the other hand, did not mind leaving behind his begging cup. He gladly followed. Jesus had not even told him to do so. Jesus had said, “Go your way.” But Bartimaeus decided that whatever way Jesus was heading was the way for him (52).

Let’s close this brief consideration of Mark 10 with a question found in John 9:40, “Are we also blind?”

Friday, September 23, 2016

Do Not Believe the Rumor

Somehow a rumor has been started that the good news of the gospel means that we can do whatever we wish and never suffer the consequences. The rumor has it that, as long as we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, nothing we have done will ever come back to haunt us. Our task will be easy. Our rewards will be great. The Christian life will be a life of ease and enjoyment.

It is true that Jesus once said, “my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt 11:30). Yes, he said that, and the statement does contain the words “easy” and “light.” It also happens to contain the words “yoke” and “burden.”

A yoke is a contraption that helps oxen pull a load. There are poorly made yokes that make the task more difficult than it needs to be, and better yokes that make the task as painless as possible. But any yoke implies that there is work to be done. A light burden is not a heavy burden, but it is a burden.

There is something to be done. The Christian life is great; it is enjoyable; it is a blessing; but it is not effortless. Jesus also said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt 7:14).

The afflictions of the Christian life are “light” and “momentary” in comparison to the “eternal weight of glory” to which they lead (2 Cor 4:17). But they are afflictions, not picnics.

Believe the scriptures, not the rumor.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Overlooking What Matters Most

The 71st floor of the Chrysler building in New York is now occupied by a private company. But in the past the 71st floor was an observation deck. For 50 cents the public could take a stroll around the floor and get a magnificent view of New York. They could also observe something else, although most people did not bother.

Also on the 71st floor was a display case containing a rustic set of tools. The tools had belonged to a young mechanic with the Union Pacific Railroad. He made the tools himself at the Union Pacific shop in Ellis, Kansas while still in his teens.

Most people who visited the observation deck spent their time looking at the sights outside the windows. It never occurred to them to look at the homely tool chest at the center of the room. It never occurred to them that the 71st floor, and all of the other floors of the Chrysler building, would never have existed if it had not been for the hard work of a young unschooled railroad mechanic named Walter Chrysler.

We look at the sights, but sometimes at the wrong sights. We see the finished product – like the large building and the larger business that Walter Chrysler built. But we forget the humble beginnings and the hard work that went before.
But God does not forget. He sees what is done in secret (Mt 6:2-6); and he honors work well done (Col 3:23-24). Let us be diligent in our tasks, whatever those tasks may be.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Lifelong Learning

I have seen it in slightly different forms; I do not know who first said it; but it is certainly a true statement, “There is no shame in not knowing, only in refusal to learn.”

Of course we cannot learn everything. It would be foolish and wrong to even try. But in regard to the things that really matter the refusal to learn is inexcusable.

Every workman bears a responsibility to learn his craft. A truck driver is not expected to know the rules of Rugby; nor is a Rugby player expected to know the laws governing trucks. But to refuse to learn things related to one’s task is wrong. In Rugby it will get one penalized. In truck driving it will get one ticketed (and the officer will not accept “I didn’t know” as an excuse).

Having been placed here that we might glorify God (Isa 43:21; Mt 5:16; Phil 1:10-11; 1 Peter 4:10-11), it is wrong of us to refuse to learn how we might best do so. And we ought to continue to learn throughout our lives.

One of the best teachers I ever had was Ian Fair. Dr. Fair had earned a master’s in biblical studies from A.C.U. and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Natal in South Africa. But he was still learning. Every semester he taught the four or five courses assigned to him and often attended a class one of the other professors taught. That’s right; a professor would sit in the classroom as a student. He did this for years. He was still learning.

Do not pass by opportunities to learn about the things that really matter. Do not neglect opportunities to improve your ability to praise the Lord. There is no shame in not knowing, we all started out ignorant. But there is great shame in refusing opportunities to learn and improve.