Applying the Word; January 3, 2020


Luke 10:37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

This is a very good example of the Coaching technique I’ve been learning for the past couple of years. When the expert in the law questioned Him, He turned it around and asked the lawyer’s opinion. The interesting thing is, the lawyer knew the facts, he just didn’t want to apply them to himself. The Good Samaritan is one of Jesus’ most famous parables, so there’s no need to go into a detailed analysis of the parable itself. However, this last zinger of Jesus is worthy of real reflection. Jesus had just portrayed religious professionals in a bad light, in contrast to a despised Samaritan, but He didn’t state the logical conclusion of the parable Himself, He asked the lawyer to do it. The lawyer couldn’t bring himself to say that the Samaritan had been most obedient to God, so he sidestepped by describing the Samaritan’s actions. That didn’t get him off the hook however, because Jesus then tells him to imitate the Samaritan! Jesus’ whole point was that it isn’t knowing God’s law that matters, it’s doing it. Elsewhere He also said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) James’ comment on this issue is justly famous: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) The man Jesus was talking to here probably had the whole Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) memorized, but he wasn’t really applying it to himself, except where it seemed easy or convenient to make him look good. Jesus didn’t let him get away with that, and He doesn’t let us get away with it either. There are plenty of “Bible-believing Christians” who aren’t actually walking in submission and obedience to God. We tend to look at religion as “What’s in it for me?” We don’t grasp the point that our Creator, who has total rights of ownership to everything He has made, has given us instructions to follow, not just to admire in the abstract. It is when we follow those instructions in humility and gratitude that we step into the overflowing abundance that He has prepared for us.

Growing up in the Church as I did, I have seen a wide variety of responses to the Word of God. For that matter, I have responded differently at different times in my life. Now as a pastor, I need to be very careful that I don’t put myself into the same group of religious professionals as this lawyer. Memorization isn’t so much my thing, but I do have a lot of the Word stored up in my heart and mind. However, that isn’t going to do me a bit of good if it doesn’t guide and shape my interactions with the people around me. I desire that others become genuine disciples of Jesus Christ, but that isn’t likely to happen if I myself am not a genuine disciple. Just “going through the motions” doesn’t cut it, but neither does treating it all as theoretical and esoteric. I’ve got to be real, down-to-earth, and obedient.

Father, thank You for this clear reminder. Thank You for the opportunity to do some ministry/coaching yesterday, and that I’m likely to have more opportunity today. Help me indeed “make the most of every opportunity,” (Colossians 4:5) so that the Body of Christ may be built up, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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