There is a story Jesus told, and it goes like this:
15 When they heard this, one of the dinner guests said to Jesus, “Someday God will have a kingdom feast, and how happy and privileged will be the ones who get to share in that joy!” 16 Jesus replied with this parable: “A man invited many to join him in a great feast. 17 When the day for the feast arrived, the host instructed his servant to notify all the invited guests and tell them, ‘Come, for everything is now ready for you!’ 18 But one by one they all made excuses. One said, ‘I can’t come. I just bought some property and I have to go and look it over.’ 19 Another said, ‘Please accept my regrets, for I just purchased five teams of oxen and I need to make sure they can pull the plow.’ 20 Another one said, ‘I can’t come because I just got married.’Luke 14.15-20, The Passion Translation
People in this story missed out on their time with God because they did not have a sense of urgency about the things of God. Last week we said (here) that we need to put God’s kingdom first and some things have a time limit. Here we are looking at some of the excuses people use to put off doing what God has clearly instructed them to do.
I have seen many people miss out on God’s will for their life over a piece of real estate. I have seen people buy a nice house in a part of the country where there just isn’t a decent church that is going to feed them and lead them. It does not take long for them to backslide right out of God’s will. All over a house that within the next few decades is going to become toast. Never put property between you and Jesus. If He tells you to sell it, do it. Obey Him! Be willing to submit to Him even over property. This story Jesus told explains so clearly that people missed out on their destiny, their life, their future because of their property – because in their heart they put property above Jesus.
Now, of course Jesus does not mind us having property – and loads of it. We are after all the head and not the tail, we are the lenders not the borrowers, we should be the landlords not the tenants! That’s part of the blessing of Abraham. But you should be the one who tells property what to do, it should never tell you what to do, and it certainly should never dictate to you where you live, where you worship, how you live, what you are doing, how you operate. People max out their borrowing over a nice house, and then cannot give to the kingdom of God and cannot invest in their local church. They have turned down the kingdom for property.
Do not get this one wrong. Never let property be your idol, and never let it get in the way of you and Jesus.
2. Business Ventures
Again, I have seen people turn their back on the kingdom for business. I have seen people work with very ungodly people and become very unequally yoked for the sake of a few pounds, I have seen people working Sunday after Sunday and missing church and wondering why their fire is weak. I have seen people lie to get a job, cheat to make a sale. They have compromised Jesus for business. Recently, a pastor contacted me with a business deal that involved me selling things to people in my church, he was telling me how much money I could make and how I could do this and that, and it would have involved me taking advantage of all the trust and credibility I have gained as a pastor and using it to get monthly subscriptions from people for something that they just did not need. I would not do that, but I know people who have!
I know other people who have a call to full time ministry, but have politely declined the call because they cannot leave their oxen behind, they cannot turn their back on their business interests to serve God. Read the words of Jesus, read them in other Bible translations. You will find that your business is not as important, not nearly as important, as the business of the kingdom of God. Never use your business to ignore or disobey Jesus.
Again, you can have a business. You should have a business, or two, or three, or ten. Jesus has zero problems with you having a business, but He does have an issue when the business has you. When it tells you where to go, how to behave, how to act, what to do. Then that business is your Lord and Christ, not Jesus. Selah.
Thirdly, Jesus is very clear – you should never let your marital state be an excuse for not doing the work of the kingdom. I have seen more tears as a pastor because of people marrying the wrong people than anything else. People want to marry so they ignore the leading of Jesus, they ignore the Scriptures that talk about marrying a believer, they ignore that marriage should be a team and they fail to marry a team player. They marry some idiot that does not care about God, does not care about the kingdom, but they did pray a prayer ten years ago, and now they have to go to church alone, now they have to raise their children in the Lord alone, now tithing is a matter of conflict, praying is a bone of contention and fasting a real concern. When if they had followed Jesus and put the kingdom first, a godly spouse would have been added to them, and they would be talking with them about the Lord, enjoying the joy of being married to someone with Christian character, going to church together, being called to minister together, supporting and loving each other!
Again, God has no problems with you being married, but if you being married stops you enjoying the feast of the Lord, there is a problem! A huge big problem. You cannot use your wife, your husband, your son, your daughter as an excuse for ignoring and disobeying your heavenly calling. When God calls you, you cannot use your family, your business, your house, what you want to do, who you want to marry, where you want to live, as an excuse. None of that is seen by Jesus as a valid excuse. When He calls, then you should be following. When He invites, you should respond with a holy honour and wisdom.
John Wesley, the apostle who founded the Methodist Church in the UK, had real problems in his marriage. His wife got jealous when he pastored people, his wife got upset when he worked, she got annoyed when he travelled, she got envious when he wrote letters to families in the church. She did not like the call of God on his life. They got married on a Monday, and on Tuesday John was preaching, and she never got over that. But she never stopped him doing what God called him to do. He loved her, respected her, endured her emotional outbursts, and then got on with the call of God. And without Him doing that, the United Kingdom would be in an even worse than it was. The Methodist Church for many years has been one of the major reasons why our nation has been brought back to the Word over and over again. John Wesley was unyielding – nothing got between him and serving God with all His heart, and putting God first. John Wesley did not fall off the bridge. And nor should we.
In our next post, I will talk about marriage again, and one of the things that has caused so many people in our generation to fall off the bridge and fail to get to their destination.