Cover to Cover
In verse 23, Jesus says, “If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].”
A controlling, religious pride is often opposite of this truth. Instead of dying to self and loving people, religious pride loves itself. Who are we to judge who is redeemable? Who are we to decide who is worthy? Jesus came to love us when we didn’t deserve it. He was mocked and spat upon. He was beaten and killed. He was crucified and sent to Hades. And He willingly let it happen!
At one point, Peter, not wanting Jesus to be killed, tried to keep Jesus from this mission. Jesus knew Satan was at the root of it. There are Christians today that would rather “self-care” than care for the hurting. There are Christians today that would rather stay away from “toxic” people than take the risk to restore the broken. There are believers today that would rather withdraw than to love the unlovable. Am I saying that a person should put up with abuse? No. But I’m saying that a Christian should lay down their life to seek and save the lost – and that could get messy. Jesus has reconciled us back to God, and then He asked us to go reconcile others. We are ambassadors for Christ. Our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus. Let’s go win the people He died for to share the life that has been offered for all!
In chapters 10-11, we read of the sixth, seventh, and eighth judges of Israel:
We don’t have much information on Tola and Jair, but we do on Jephthah, a judge that fought against enemy oppression.
Jephthah made a vow to the Lord to offer a sacrifice from his own family if the Lord were to give Israel victory in battle over Ammon.
· God never told Jephthah to make that promise.
· Jephthah offered to kill a member of his household in attempt to manipulate God.
· When someone made a promise, they were held to that oath to fulfill it.
· Breaking an oath was a serious and unalterable action.
· He lost his daughter because she was the one who welcomed him home.
· His daughter was a victim of Jephthah’s manipulation. When we attempt to manipulate God, others can get hurt.
· God wanted Israel to win. He was there to help – no oath was necessary. It is not God’s fault that an innocent young woman died at the hands of her own father.
Let’s be careful to call out of God out of faith and not manipulation.