Sunday, February 23, 2014

Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy
Feb 24, 2014
Matthew 6:24  "No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise  the other.  You cannot serve both God and money."

Having an escape plan is often a good idea.  Children should always know how to exit a home in case of a fire.  Passengers should always know how to board a life boat in case the ship is going down.  In business, it is important to know how to leave the commitment, if it becomes unprofitable.  But it is not necessary to need an escape plan when serving the Lord.  When following the Lord whole-heartedly, no matter what the outcome, there is never a reason to walk away from the Lord's plan.  There is never a reason to turn back or walk the other away.  Having an exit strategy is a foolish thing when it comes to walking in the Lord's will for your life.  An exit strategy would allow you to be double-minded and not fully committed to serving Him.

Jesus knew this when He told the rich man to sell all his belongings.  A certain rich, young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him what it would take for the man to gain eternal life.  The man was wealthy, respected in the community, and still had a long life ahead of him.  Jesus told him to sell everything, give it to the poor, and become one of His disciples.  If he kept his prior life and tried to follow Jesus, there would always be an exit strategy or a way to leave the Lord.  He could easily return to his former life.  Jesus wasn't actually saying that selling all your belongings is required to make it to Heaven.  But to this specific young ruler, his former life would have kept him from following Jesus, from fully giving his heart to the Lord.  The Lord asked him to rid himself of his former life and devote his heart to serving the Lord; this is what it means to make Jesus Lord of your life.  The Bible says that the rich, young ruler walked away from Jesus and never fully committed.  His former life was too tempting and enjoyable to leave.  He wanted an escape plan but Jesus knew this would keep the man from making it to Heaven.  His money was the real lord over his life and was a possible exit strategy from following Jesus.

Unlike the rich, young ruler during Jesus' day, there was a man who actually left his former life and is a shining example of following the Lord whole-heartedly.  His name was Elisha.  The prophet Elijah asked Elisha to follow in his footsteps and serve the Lord whole-heartedly.  Elisha agreed.  But Elisha did something important first.  He burned his entire way of life and severed all ties.  Scripture says that Elisha was a farmer, who had twelve sets of plows and oxen.  A poor farmer might have only have a single donkey and a single plow, but Scripture says that Elijah had several and employed others to work them.  It was suggesting that Elisha was successful in his business life, living a quite comfortable life.  But when he decided to follow the Lord, he burned all his plows and slaughtered his oxen on an alter to the Lord.  It was a way of demonstrating that he was willing to serve the Lord whole-heartedly, no turning back.  Elisha went on to become quite possibly the most successful servants of the Lord.

The difference between Elisha and the rich, young ruler was simply a heart condition.  Elisha was willing to serve the Lord whole-heartedly but the rich, young ruler was not.  The rich, young ruler wanted to keep his former way of life, but the Lord requires a full commitment, one without an exit strategy.  There is no turning back when serving the Lord and this type of commitment is required to make it to Heaven.  It is always required when following the Lord's will for your life, not matter how uncomfortable it might seem.  The rich, young ruler had a comfortable life, one that he wasn't willing to abandon for the Lord.  Abandon your former way of life and maybe you'll become like Elisha.  This world could use a few more Christians as successful as Elisha.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  1 Kings 19:19-21, Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, Luke 18:18-30

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