(Jesus and the rich, young ruler)
Many in this world are making decisions….decisions that will result in the loss of their life. I want to share some verses with you that apply to them, and I believe, will help you in circumstances that you may face in the days to come as this world heads toward the end of the age and the return of Christ to the earth.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus is making the statement that no man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. He concluded by saying, “You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Two masters….that is what life can be narrowed down to. At any given moment, whether we are aware of it or not, we are ‘serving somebody’, as Bob Dillan said years ago in his song, ‘it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord but you gotta serve somebody’.
Allah or Jesus?
Self or Jesus?
Family or Jesus?
Money or Jesus?
Job or Jesus?
Stuff or Jesus?
Christians in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Iran know what it means: you can’t serve two masters. It is either Jesus or Allah. If they choose Jesus they loose their life. They may see their loved ones killed or raped in front of their eyes. They will lose every material possession.
Paul in writing to the Hebrews said: “you took joyfully the spoiling of your goods,” (Hebrews 10:34).
For the Hebrew Christians the persecution had become so great that they were being tempted to forsake Christ and go back to the safety of their former religious traditions. No more problems with family, financial problems, social problems, threats, ridicule, losing friends because of the Gospel’s sake.
In Matthew 6 where Jesus made the statement: “no man can serve two masters”, the subject is the care about food, clothing, etc. And getting the money to acquire ‘stuff’.
Today, this decision is going beyond ‘stuff’ to loving our life or losing it:
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then he shall reward every man according to his works,” (Matthew 16:24-27).
In America (or with the Western mindset), we have interpreted the phrase, ‘take up your cross’, to mean many things mostly physical problems, burdened with a sick love one, or mental problems that we are told we will live with the rest of our life, etc.
In the Middle East this phrase ‘take up your cross’ is becoming literal. Even children are being crucified for not denying Christ, or being beheaded.
We have much to learn about this Gospel. Our Western culture-centered interpretations are way too narrow.
Here are some other verses for you to think about:
Matthew 8:22: “Follow me and let the dead bury the dead.”
Matthew 10:37: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
Matthew 12:48-50: “Who is My mother and my brethren? Those that do the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Matthew 16:6: “Beware of the leaven of the Sadducees and Pharisees” (false doctrines).
Matthew 16:15: “Who do you say that I am?”
Matthew 19:16: “Go, sell what you have, give to the poor and come follow Me.”
Matthew 22:37: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Matthew 24:12&13: “the love of many shall wax cold”.
Matthew 24:42: “watch there for, for you know not at what hour your Lord returns.”
I would also recommend reading the rewards promised to those who overcome in the letters to the churches, Revelation 2 & 3.