I used to dream of being famous. (Who didn’t?) Throughout my life I have wanted to be all kinds of different things–an athlete, a musician, an artist, an author, even a Pastor (different kind of famous, I guess). But here I am, the ripe old age of 31, my life half over, well passed the age I thought I would have already been a millionaire, and yet I am nothing. But I am learning to accept that.
Not really. It is hard to accept. I still want to be heard. I still want to be seen. I still want to be followed. I still want to be popular. Nope, it didn’t go away after high school. And the worst part is, I am all the more shy, apathetic, introverted, and boring today as I ever was. Kind of frustrating, actually.
But today I ran across two bible verses, both of which leapt off the page (the screen) and slapped me in the face.
The first was in Esther (when I searched the bible for “popular”):
“For Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.” –Esther 10:3
And the second was in Ecclesiastes (when I searched for “quiet”):
“There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard. The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” (Ecclesiastes 9:14-17)
The first verse from Esther taught me that popularity (fame) in God’s eyes is meant for those who genuinely seek the welfare of others. Something I am very poor at. When you think of the most famous and effective men and women of the bible, none of them sought the popularity itself, they sought the welfare of others.
In the second passage from Ecclesiastes, I was first drawn to verse 17: “The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” It would be better for me to be quiet and speak even one word of wisdom to one individual than to be the most famous of celebrities shouting at the top of my lungs like a fool. (Now the hard part: finding one person who will listen to me… and finding something wise to say to them!)
Verse 17 is what caught my attention, but the context of the passage sucked me in. Here is a poor man, a wise man, who somehow delivers his entire city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered him. He didn’t get popular like Mordecai did in the book of Esther. He sought other’s welfare too, but no one cared. Even though his wisdom was so great, it did not afford him popularity. In fact, “the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.”
Popularity is so overrated. (That’s my excuse anyway).
So hopefully I’m done trying to make a name for myself (says the man typing all of this on to a public blog). Hopefully I will move forward being more concerned about the things of the Lord and how I can best serve him in quietness and seek the welfare of others than about how I can use “my talents” to garnish a following.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go post a link to this article on Facebook so all my friends can read it. I wonder how many “likes” I will get?
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread?
In John chapter 6 we read about a crowd of people who were following Jesus, not because they believed in Him necessarily, but because He fed them physically. It says there, “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal;'” John 6:26-27.
Do not expend all of your effort in the pursuit of physical things. Do not exert yourself in toil for things that cannot satisfy. On the contrary, be diligent to seek the food which does not perish. Seek the Bread of Life.
- John 6:32-35; “Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'”
Listen diligently to me…Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live
The only thing that will ever truly satisfy us is God Himself. We were created for fellowship with Him and will find our true belonging, our only true contentment, when we turn our ear to Him and come to Him.
- Psalms 63:5-8; “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
- Psalms 65:4; “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!”
- Psalms 107:8-9; “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
- Jeremiah 31:12-14; “They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the LORD.”
- Jeremiah 31:25; “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
“‘Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'”
Receive the kingdom of God
Receiving the kingdom of God is a matter of faith. In the same way a child unreservedly, without prejudice, without pride, ambition, and vanity (John Gill) receives what is promised to him, so ought those who desire eternity receive the kingdom. Jesus promised, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom;” Luke 12:32. As a child resting in the secure care of his parents are those who receive the promise of God’s kingdom.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is the absolute assurance of an expectation, the conviction concerning something unseen. Faith is the response of one who receives a promise and believes it, trusting in the character of the one who made he promise. Like a child unreservedly trusting in her parents, we receive God’s kingdom.
- 1 Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
- 2 Corinthians 4:18 “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. For we know [have assurance] that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
What must I do
I doubt it is a coincidence that the ruler’s question is so closely recorded after Jesus’ words about child-like faith. Jesus just finished saying, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” The ruler subsequently asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” It’s just like us adults to be thick-headed and clueless.
Jesus said in the negative tense, Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” So, we can obviously accurately assume the positive form is true: “Whoever does receive the kingdom of God like a child shall enter it.”
What must I do to inherit eternal life? What must I do to live forever in God’s kingdom? You must receive Him–the King–in the same simplistic dependency as a child.
By receiving Jesus Christ, you receive life and are made to be fit for heaven.
- John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
- John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
- John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
- John 6:40 “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
There’s nothing you can do but believe
The ruler addressed Jesus as good when he inquired about the kingdom. Jesus responded, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” He then proceeded to tell him that the way to inherit eternal life was through absolute perfection. But no one is good. No one but God. So, in essence, what Jesus was saying was, “There is nothing you can do; only God can.”
Luke 18:27; “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
It is impossible for man to maintain the required perfection to enter heaven. “Then who can be saved?” (18:26). Anyone who believes in the Lord–anyone who receives Christ and His kingdom through faith.
- Galatians 2:16 “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law [by maintaining a self attained righteousness] but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
- Romans 3:21-25 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”
No one but God is good. If you receive Him, you will be given His righteousness and made fit for the kingdom and an heir of eternal life.
What must you do? Believe.