A very dear friend to me for many years, who remains a friend to this day, made it clear I was to be considered a guest when I was with him. In the beginning of our relationship I paid my own way, knowing he wanted to show this grace towards me. But pride on my part kept me from accepting his generosity. Also, I did not want to be a mooch, a bum, becoming dependent upon others to provide for me. But the real culprit in my life was, I did not want to be beholden to him. Even though we were close friends, I did not want to owe him gratitude for what he was doing for me. Like him, I wanted our friendship, but I wanted it dependent upon mutual terms.
He soon began to arrange in advance wherein there was nothing to pay when we went out together, whether it was a restaurant, special event, or a vacation. It bothered me that I was not being allowed to pay and began to conduct myself as he was doing, arranging payment in advance so there was nothing left to pay when we finished our activity together. While not being nearly wealthy as he, I was not destitute and could afford to pay my own way. I wanted to at least pay an equal amount with him. However, it was frustrating and disturbing to my friend. He wanted to be the one sharing his riches with me.
The challenge was that I was insisting on having a relationship with him on my terms and he was insisting our relationship be on his terms. It really was that simple. Finally, he caught me in a private moment and informed me he wished I would stop insisting on paying my part and to consider when I was with him I was always his guest, and that it would please him very much if I would comply with his wishes.
The challenge I was facing is one which is common to Christianity. The Pharisees had the same struggle. At times one of them would approach Jesus tempting him and saying something like, “Master, what good thing can I do that I might have eternal life?” In both the Pharisees’ relationship with God and in believers’ relationships with God to this day, there is a reluctance to accept the gift of God through Jesus Christ. The human inclination is to do something to make one worthy to receive eternal life. Jesus never rebuked them for asking the question, but he would engage them in conversation until the obstacle that would prevent them from gaining eternal life on the basis of the law was revealed, whether it was selfishness, pride, a lack of commitment to God or the absence of love for others. Jesus was careful to help them understand their need and the way to eternal life, which was life through him. Some of those accounts are listed in Luke 10:25; Luke 18:18; and Matthew 19:16.
All the Apostles would eventually understand their eternal life did not depend upon them and what they could do, but rather it was by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and the work which he had already done. Yes, it made them beholden to the Master. They devoted their remaining earthly lives in devotion to their Lord, doing his will, keeping his commandments because he loved them, and they loved him back.
It is yet another case when we discover the will of God is to “Focus On Jesus And Follow His Plan.”
In the case of my friend, I have learned it is better for me to crucify my pride and desires to pay my own way and to allow him the joy of providing for me. There is nothing I currently know, within the laws of God and man, that I would not do for my friend. Yes, I am beholden to him. I owe him a debt of gratitude and if it brings him joy, then I will gladly pay my debt of gratitude with loyalty to my friend, allowing myself to ever be beholden to him. Could it be there is a similar dynamic in the relationship between the Lord and us?
For mankind, walking with God by faith is often a challenge. As long as the disciples had their Master’s presence where they could see, hear, touch, and regularly fellowship with him, they were able to do reasonably well. However, the day came in accordance with Jesus’ prophecy of himself when he would leave. It was a painful time for the disciples and Jesus comforted them with these words.
John 14:1-31, NIV
- “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
- My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
- And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
- You know the way to the place where I am going.”
- Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
- Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
- If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
- Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
- Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
- Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
- Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
- Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
- And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
- You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
- “If you love me, keep my commands.
- And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—
- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
- I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
- Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
- On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
- Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
- Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
- Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
- Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
- “All this I have spoken while still with you.
- But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
- Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
- “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
- I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
- I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me,
- but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. “Come now; let us leave.”
Let the Master have his way in your life, please, Focus on Jesus and Follow His Plan.