Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” – Lk. 9:62 NIV
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Jesus Christ had spent many months preaching the gospel of Salvation, and letting all that care to listen know that salvation had come to them. In the process, he had given so many sermons, that provided better understanding of the laws of God to all that cared to listen and had performed several miracles to back his claims of having divine power. He was already on the last lap of his journey to Jerusalem where he was to be crucified and it was in the course of that journey that a man approached him, offering to follow him wherever he went. Jesus did not stop him from doing so but made him see what his desire will be getting him into, by making him aware that he had no place of his own that he could lay his head on – Lk. 9:58.
Whereas this man, it was that volunteered to follow him, he extended invitation to two other people and each of them had an excuse as listed below;
- The first asked for permission to go and bury his father and in his response to him, he advised him to allow the dead bury their own dead whilst he should go ahead with the task of proclaiming the message of the kingdom of God, as he has been called to do – Lk. 9:59-60.
- The second agreed to heed the Call, but not until he had said goodbye to his family members, an excuse that Jesus Christ responded to, with the words in the scripture that is the foundation text of today’s Devotional that, no one who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God – Lk. 9:61-62.
That there are many workers engaged in service in God’s vineyard today is very obvious, but going by today’s foundation scripture, it seems they can be classified into two groups, the first being those who took a decision to devote themselves to the service in God’s vineyard, and the second being those who were called to serve in God’s vineyard.
Just as stated by the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy, desiring a position of service in God’s vineyard is a good thing (Tim. 3:1), but the one who has such desires should be prepared for the challenges that come with it. Jesus Christ, in his attempt to present the picture of life in the ministry, stated that even foxes and birds of the air will be more comfortable than the one who has such desires. This did not mean that Jesus was homeless but simply meant that life in the ministry was comparable to that of one who had no access to all the comfort and features associated with a home.
It thus becomes surprising when today’s worker in God’s vineyard, expects much comfort in the course of this service, similar to that of those in secular jobs, or maybe even more. They sometimes even see the extent of such possessions as a confirmation of the genuineness of their Call to service. This is not to say that working in the Lord’s vineyard equates to suffering and poverty as Jehovah remains very much a god that provides for all and those who have chosen to serve Him are not exempted from this act of benevolence – Rom. 11:35. It is just that the one who has taken such a decision should expect some level of discomfort, similar to that of someone who is homeless and so should complain less when such discomfort shows up. Do not opt to work in the Lord’s vineyard because you expect to have material possessions and comfort, as you may end up very disappointed. He warned you from the onset, so you have no reason to feel let down because of the wrong expectation of comfort was not met. There is however the chance that if you do not relent amidst all the challenges, he may choose to compensate you with material comfort but that is not assured. If that happens, it should be considered as His Grace for you and it will be for a purpose and not for you to compete with anyone, more so, those who are in secular employment. Offer to serve in His vineyard for more noble reasons and you will be assured of stored possession in His heavenly kingdom – Mk. 10:28-31. Think more about his work and not the comfort that will likely come from working in His vineyard as that is the only way that you can be adequately compensated with heavenly treasures.
The same section of the scriptures however identifies another group of workers in the vineyard and these are people who were called into service by Jesus Christ. Though some willingly and instantly accepted the Call the way the early disciples did, leaving behind all that they were or possess to follow him – Mk. 1:14-18. By that, they left what seemed like certainty for what appeared to be uncertainty, and their devotion to service was never in doubt. There was however the group that chose to give reasons why they have to reject the Call or delay their acknowledgement of his Call. Members of this group always have what to them, is a genuine reason to back their rejection of the Call or the delay in responding to his Call. In the example cited by Jesus Christ, they either have family commitments or family responsibilities to attend to, that are considered sufficient reason to delay or decline the Call. Jesus Christ made it clear that no matter how acceptable, the reason may be to men, it will never be sufficient to justify delaying or declining his Call. Just as he made it clear, that the response to the Call does not allow for any distractions or for any other activity to take precedence, not even family related matters.
Those called into the Ministry must realise that nothing else should for any reason take precedence of heeding the Call and readiness to take up the responsibilities of his Call. It is not unusual for people to advocate that family related issues should take precedence over the activities of the Ministry, but really, nothing is farther from the truth than such thought pattern as Jehovah will never be kept waiting. Man will have to wait for Jehovah and never the reverse. Identify the basis for your service in His vineyard and accept the reality of your situation in that regard. That is when you will be more likely to avoid frustration in the Call and be better position to succeed in that Call. May God help us to serve appropriately so as to achieve the above and all other associated objectives of Service in Jesus name. Amen.