“I will follow you, Lord, but…” How modern it all sounds. A willingness to follow Jesus quickly followed by a “But.” Have you ever found yourself guilty of that same ploy? What is the “But” here? “Let me first say farewell to those at my home” (Luke 9:61). At first this sounds like a reasonable request. But the whole Eastern custom of such a situation would involve this man in a long delay. There would be a season of feasting, revelry and fun. To this man who wanted to put off his decision so that he might enjoy himself a bit longer, and not cut the ties immediately, Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Some things are so urgent they have to done immediately. They cannot wait; farmers understand this. I have seen men work during wheat harvest. It’s from can to can’t. When the wheat is ready, you had better be. There’s no time to waste. I have seen the same urgency displayed during sandstorms in Texas. With dust blowing at 30-40 miles an hour I have seen them on tractors doing everything possible to save their land. Fun and frivolity can wait.
To understand the words of Jesus we must interpret them in the light of Palestine custom. Between the months of May and October there is scarcely any rain at all and the ground becomes dry and hard. Everyone is waiting for the early rains that come somewhere at the end of September or the beginning of October, and continue through the winter until April, when there is the latter rain of which the Scriptures speaks. The plough-man is eagerly awaiting the moment the early rains comes. He cannot touch the ground till the rain has fallen, as it is too hard. Without a moment’s delay, when the rain begins to fall he gets his hand on the plough, and he never looks back. His eye is on the furrow all the time. Everything in terms of harvest depends upon this man’s immediate response to the rain. He must plough, he must sow, and he must reap a harvest when the time comes if he is going to glean. He can’t sit around and discuss it. He can’t turn it over to a committee. The work has to be done NOW!
The man in Luke 9 is saying in effect, “I will follow you, but I want to put off my decision for a little while.” Does that sound like anybody you know?
IS OUR RELIGION A MATTER OF CONVENIENCE OR COMMITMENT?
There is an intense struggle going on for the souls of men, women, boys and girls. This struggle is between God and Satan, and only one of them can win. Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters; for he will either hate the one and love the other, or he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches, material things)” Matthew 6:24. In this struggle there are many who seem more interested in finding ways to get around the plain teachings of scripture instead of finding ways to carry out His words in daily life. For instance, the Lord very plainly tells us that divorce and remarriage of the innocent party is allowed only when one’s mate has been sexually unfaithful Matthew 5:31-32, 19:3-12, Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18. Yet, even among our brethren some are avidly seeking to get around this plain teaching of the Lord. Here is an example of convenience instead of commitment. Another real problem today finds many parents allowing sports, etc… to come before God. I personally enjoy sports and encouraged my children to participate but not to the extent of missing gospel meetings, Wednesday or Sunday classes and or worship. For some people giving is a matter of convenience instead of commitment. We really need to trust God to supply our needs and give cheerfully and liberally as He desires. Please honestly answer the following questions as to whether your religion is one of convenience or commitment.
- Do you attend all services whether it is convenient or not?
- Do you have more commitment to the Lord and His body (the church) than to job, family, sports, entertainment, TV, etc?
- Do you question the necessity of attending Bible Classes, Sunday night, Wednesday night, special meetings etc.?
- Do you give regularly and sacrificially, making up your contribution when you have to be away?
- Do you feel any responsibility to encourage and/or teach others?
- Do you encourage your children, mate, the weak, the strong by your attendance, enthusiasm, and willing involvement in the Lord’s work?
True commitment means we have convictions about the creator, his Book, and his Church. It means we are willing to deny self and put Christ ahead of family, things, and even life itself. Someone has well said “If your religion cannot get you to the services of God’s house, don’t count too heavily on it getting you to heaven.” What about our religion? Is it a matter of commitment or convenience?
Henry Huckeba 1990, Liberty Hill Church of Christ