Focus; July 24, 2020

Matt 15:25-28 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

This story is one I have struggled with in the past, because it seemed to me to be so uncharacteristic of Jesus. His remark about “little dogs” seemed incredibly cold, and not like the image I had of Him at all. What I realize right now, however, is that absolutely everything Jesus did was in obedience to His Father; He did nothing outside of His instructions. After His resurrection the commission expanded to all of mankind, but at this point He was sent strictly to the Jews. So much for antisemitic Christians! This woman’s humility and faith, accepting the label of “little dog” and still clinging to Jesus, moved Jesus to the point that He granted her request. However, Jesus’ focus was on what He felt God was telling Him to do at that moment. There are several places where the Bible says things like, “He healed all who came to Him,” but it’s obvious He didn’t heal everyone in Judea, or there wouldn’t have been the beggar at the Beautiful Gate for Peter and John to heal after Jesus had gone back to heaven. (Acts 3) Some people seem fixated on making other people feel guilty for not participating in whatever they have as their ministry. That’s simply wrong. It’s not that their ministry isn’t valid and important, it’s that it’s their ministry, and not everyone is supposed to participate. This causes a lot of conflict in individual churches and in the Church as a whole. We are to rejoice when God sends people to work alongside us, and we are explicitly told to pray for such fellow-workers. (Matthew 9:38) We are to let people know of the opportunity to serve God in that way, but we are not to dump guilt on them if they don’t jump on our bandwagon. And we ourselves are to be faithful to pray for all the concerns the Lord brings to our attention, but listen carefully before we jump in to do more. We are not to ignore the divine appointments God gives us, certainly, but we are not to be man-centered in seeking them out. We are far from perfect, but the devil delights to make us feel guilty for things that aren’t our responsibility.

This is a complicated issue that I have struggled with over the years. I’m sure I have failed to follow through many times when God had a task for me to do, but I have also over-extended myself by taking on tasks that God did not intend for me. It all boils down to the fact that I don’t have the wisdom and knowledge I need to get it all right. Only God has that, so my focus must be on listening accurately to Him and obeying Him fully. There are things He has for me to do that He hasn’t assigned to other people, but He certainly hasn’t assigned me to meet every need even in my own field of view, much less in the whole city, nation, or world. God cares about all those things, but He has other people He wants to use to deal with them.

Father, this is an important revelation. Thank You. Keep me from using it as an excuse to avoid things You do have for me to do, but keep me from being distracted by the limitless supply of things I could do. May I seek Your will alone, recognize it, and do it with all I am, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

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