Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sending the Seventy, part 11:

Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.' ... Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. (Luke 10:5, 7 NASB)

This verse is nearly impossible to understand in our culture of entitlement. For some absolutely crazy reason that makes no sense at all, we have been hoodwinked into believing that is it our "right" to be comfortable and content. It is not. There is nothing in Scripture about our "rights" to comfort at all. Even our beloved forefathers in this country, describing our "inalienable rights" did not list comfort or contentment. Their list is pretty short: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. Liberty did not mean do whatever you want to do. Liberty meant "not a slave". "Pursuit of happiness" means that pursuit is the part we get to do. Actually achieving happiness is not guaranteed at all! That seems like an unusual way to start a devotional thought, I know, but we have to break free from our sense of entitlement to go where we need to go today. 

Jesus was speaking to men who were not accustomed to handouts. They were not accustomed to depending upon the charity of others. The apostle Paul would write a few years later, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8 KJV)" These "sent ones" understood that they were to provide for their families and themselves. 

With that in mind, look at what Jesus told them to do. They were to go to the villages to which He would be going later and preach and heal. They were not to take any money with them, nor any way to work for a living (no tools). "The laborer is worthy of his wages," He said. What they would be doing would be work, and they could expect at least a subsistence living in payment. Teaching, preaching, and healing may not be manual labor, but they are exhausting work, and all that Jesus expected. 

Can you even imagine what this must have meant to these men? They were accustomed to supporting themselves. For this journey, Jesus was saying, "This time, I will support you." He did not promise elaborate accommodations, but made it clear that they would have food and shelter. With that, they should be content. 

To be sure, there must have been the possibility of discontent, because Jesus repeated Himself. "Do not keep moving from house to house." They were to be still and stay where He placed them, even if they didn't particularly like it. His provision might not be what they had expected, but it was enough and they were to receive it happily. 

This has great application for our lives today. In our society of entitlement, it is difficult to overcome the mistaken idea that we deserve more or better. We need to embrace the truth of Philippians 4:11 and live accordingly: "...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11 KJV) In whatever state God allows, like the apostle Paul, we are to be content until He moves us. 

At this time of year, there is a cultural impetus to want more, buy more, get more. We would do well to reconsider that flawed philosophy. This year, let's be content with what God provides. This year, let's be content. Instead of seeking more, let's seek less stuff and more Jesus. Be still. Be content. Thank God for whatever He has allowed.