If you’d like to join us in our journey reading all the way through the Bible this year, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to email back a copy of the reading plan we are using.
Only God is all-knowing. Only God is present everywhere at the same time. Only God has all power. And only God can care about everything and everybody all at once. Nowhere do we try more to be like God than when we try to take on what can only belong to Him. To be human, is to the have the limits He created us with. And as I hope we’ll see today – that’s a relief.
I’m Reid Ferguson, and this is Through the Word in 2020.
We only have 3 passages to read today and two of them are exceedingly brief: 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Luke 7:11–17; and 2 Chronicles 16–19.
The portion I’d like to consider for a moment is the account of Jesus raising the son of a woman in a town called Nain – from the dead. Luke is the only Gospel writer to record the event, and it is so brief we can pass over it in a perfunctory manner. But sometimes, there are little things in the text that really mean a lot.
What caught my eye afresh this morning was the repeated use of the singular pronouns: His, Him, She, Her, You. While there was a crowd there, and at least some of Jesus’ disciples, attention is given to the singular.
Think for a moment about the way you and I are bombarded with information, images and stories of tragedy, upheaval, turmoil, conflict and unrest, globally, 24 hours a day. And one wonders, are each of us as individuals really designed to care so deeply about so many people and so much pain and distress all over, all the time? I don’t think so.
Back to our text. Here is Jesus, in His incarnation, but in one local place at a time. Not everywhere. He is in this specific village, at this specific time, with this specific widow and her dead son – and He functions within that local context – within His immediate sphere. But He is not at this moment healing all people everywhere. As the text notes, in that moment, He saw “her” and had compassion on “her” and spoke to “her.” The rest of the World was in the care of His Father – and He was free to care and do what what He could do where He was in that moment. And that is how we are meant to be as well.
I am not suggesting we refuse to know what else is going on in the world around us. I am suggesting that we are not designed to care about all things and all people at all times – that is a usurpation of God’s sphere. A dash of human hubris with a distorted understanding of compassion, but above our means and call.
Beloved, we each only have so much emotional capital to spend. Some of us wonderfully more than others. But it must be spent where it can actually do some good. Matter where you can. And trust, where you can’t.
I could go out today and give 1,000 pennies to 1,000 needy people across the country. Or, I could give $10.00 to the guy next door who needs a meal. Touching 1,000 sounds good. But in actuality, it’s not very much at all. I have to humbly stay within the limits God has assigned to me in my sphere – and not try to be Him. Not be more altruistic than Jesus in His incarnation. Not pretend I can do what only God can do. And trust Him that He has others, in those places, to do what they can do there too.
Don’t stop caring – but trust in His care too. And pour into those He has providentially placed within your actual sphere of life and influence. Knowing that it does not ALL depend upon you.
DO, be His instrument, but know that you are not the only tool in His tool-box.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.