Posted on May 14, 2014
#54: Words for the Wise
One of Aesop’s fables tells of a donkey and a rooster who were stalked by a hungry lion, desperate for a meal. As the lion began to attack the donkey the rooster crowed loudly, causing the startled lion to flee. When the donkey saw the powerful lion scared off so easily, he gave chase, thinking to teach the lion a lesson. But the lion turned and tore the unprotected donkey to pieces. The moral: False confidence leads to danger.
Much of Jesus’ teaching in Mark 9 is designed to warn His disciples—then and now—against the pitfalls of false confidence. The more we mature in Christ, the greater the risk that we’ll see ourselves as sufficient, forgetting that without Him we are nothing.
Read through Mark 9, paying special attention to Jesus’ interaction with His disciples as you read. This chapter is full of lessons for the mature disciple. Here are five warnings for the wise.
1) Be humble (vs. 9). Don’t let His gifts make you arrogant. Peter, James, and John were forbidden by Jesus to tell anyone what they’d seen on the Mount of Transfiguration until after His resurrection. Why? So it wouldn’t become a bragging point. When He takes you to a mountaintop, when He blesses you with a holy moment, with an insight, with a miracle, thank Him for the privilege and let it inflate your spirit, not your ego.
2) Be patient (vs. 28-29). In your maturity, don’t look down on or discourage others who are less mature. Jesus led His disciples through a moment of failure, allowing them to learn important lessons and teaching them the right way to handle future situations. So we learn from Him
• to give weak brothers a chance to grow
• to support rather than criticize them
• to pray for them (John 17:6-26)
• to celebrate with them when they succeed (Luke 10:1,17-24)
• to be there for them when they fail, helping them pick up the pieces and go on.
3) Be generous (vs. 33-34, 38-40). Don’t be jealous for your position. His kingdom is big enough for all who want a place. If you jostle and struggle to be first, you’ll end up last. Serve freely alongside others, and leave God the right to assign status.
4) Be alert (vs. 42-48). Don’t let yourself be led astray. Be on guard against whatever may cause you to sin. You’re not above temptation’s power to snare you, no matter how long you’ve walked with Christ. Stay vigilant, ready to take extreme measures to stay obedient if necessary.
5) Be at peace with each other (vs. 50b). Don’t scrap and fight. We’ve all seen Christians (yes, even mature Christians!) divide over the most trivial, selfish things. When you find yourself caught in conflict, ask yourself, “Would I argue this if Jesus was standing here listening?” or better yet, “Would I argue this with Him?” How much does your point really matter in the big scheme of things? The truth is, most of the things we fuss at each other about matter very little. Jesus’ primary prayer for His people was, “Let them be one” (John 17:20ff). We please Him and honor Him before the watching world when we abandon selfish causes for the sake of oneness. Wouldn’t it be great if nonbelievers exclaimed over us as they did over the early church, “These Christians, how they love each other!”
This week, pray for yourself as you’re continually growing in wisdom and spiritual maturity. Ask God to help you be humble, patient, generous, alert, and peaceable. If we each pursue these things, all of us will be richer.
© Diane McLoud 2014
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Amen. Great lesson and much to chew on. Thanks Diane!
Great lesson. Keeps us grounded.
Thank you Diane……God is sure patient with me. I want to make Him proud..It’s another day. I have another chance. Love you