Are You Willing to Look Past Your Grievance and See the Condition of Your Heart?

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirteen through thirty-four of the twelfth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find it beginning and opening with a certain man—a man whose name we are not given—asking Jesus to settle a dispute he had with his brother. As you read this particular passage of scripture you find the man who opens this entire section of scripture up makes a simple request of Jesus—one that was apparently significant to him within his heart and life. Beginning to read with and from the thirteenth verse of this passage of scripture you find this man asking Jesus to instruct his brother to divide the inheritance between the two of them. Scripture is unclear if the inheritance was left to the other brother, or whether the inheritance was left to both brothers, but this particular brother refused to divide the inheritance evenly and equally between his other brother. Upon reading this passage found within the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus as recorded by Luke you will find that immediately after this man requested of Jesus to settle the disputes between he and his brother Jesus responded by asking him point blank and without hesitation who made Him a judge between the two of them, and who appointed Jesus to decide the matters which were present between them. This is actually quite interesting when you take the time to think about it, for this man came unto Jesus—perhaps expecting Him to side with him—and speaking to his brother to divide the inheritance between he and his brother. It is absolutely and incredibly unique to think about and consider the fact that this man actually thought that Jesus Christ could be made judge between the two of them, and would actually settle disputes between he and his brother. It is quite apparent—although not entirely obvious—that this brother might have tried talking to and speaking with his brother about the inheritance, and asked his brother to divide the inheritance between the two of them, however, without any luck or success. This passage seems to suggest this certain man expected Jesus to side with him, and actually instruct his brother to do what he had requested of him.

WHEN DID YOU THINK JESUS COULD CHOOSE SIDES? WHEN DID YOU BEGIN THINKING AND BELIEVING JESUS COULD BE PERSUADED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR BROTHER? WHEN DID YOU BEGIN THINKING THAT JESUS COULD CHOOSE BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR SISTER? What I find to be so incredibly interesting and intriguing about this passage of scripture is that this man actually thought he could bring this matter before and into the presence of Jesus, and that Jesus would somehow take and choose his side over and above his brother. What I happen to find truly remarkable about this man’s request is that it’s almost as if this man was asking Jesus to choose between him and his brother concerning which of the two of them was correct, and which one of them was right. This man sought for his brother to divide the inheritance between the two of them, and apparently he was met with resistance and little if any luck or success. Perhaps this man and his brother had had plenty of discussions that were civil and cordial, yet perhaps others were heated and hostile, as perhaps they engaged in choice words with each other. I have been taught that when scripture is silent we are to be silent, and not to read in scripture what is not there, however, when you read the words which are found within this passage you can’t help but come face to face with human nature—particularly and especially when we think, feel and believe we are right. We tend to go to great lengths and great measures when we think and feel we are right, and this man was no different, for this man thought within himself that if he went to Jesus He would side with him, see his point of view, and would speak to and instruct his brother. Undoubtedly this man thought and believed he was right in his own eyes, and thought that by going unto Jesus He would side with him and speak to his brother. Oh what great lengths and what measures we can and will take when we think and feel that we are right in our own eyes—particularly and especially when we feel slighted, cheated, wronged, and even offended. There is not a doubt in my mind this man felt he was right in his own eyes, and felt he had been slighted and wronged by his brother, and as a direct result of this viewpoint, he sought to enlist the help of Jesus to prove he was right, as well as to settle the dispute between he and his brother.

The more I read and the more I consider that which is found within this passage of scripture, the more I can’t help but come face to face with human nature, and how we react and respond when we think, feel and even believe we have been wronged and offended by another. What makes this matter even more intriguing is not that it took place between two men, but that it took place between two brothers. It would have been one thing if this matter was between this man and another man who was unrelated, however, that simply is not the case. The dispute between this man and his brother was very real and very personal, and it was so important to him that he sought to enlist the help of Jesus to help settle the matter between he and his brother. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that what this man was actually asking Jesus to do was to come in between he and his brother, to enter into what was perhaps their quarrel and dispute, and to side with him. There is not a doubt in my mind this man believed that if he went and came unto Jesus concerning what he believed and felt was a grievance in his own eyes, Jesus would surely see things from his point of view and would side with him. Undoubtedly this man thought and believed that Jesus could be persuaded to enter into this dispute, and to essentially settle the matter for him. As I sit here this morning, I am completely and utterly struck with and by the fact that this man undoubtedly felt slighted, and undoubtedly felt wronged by his brother, and in response to feeling wronged by his brother, he felt he could enlist the help of Jesus to speak to his brother to divide the inheritance between the two of them. Oh what great lengths and measures we will go to and take when we feel we have been wronged, and when we feel we have been slighted by others. What great lengths and what great measures we will go to in order to somehow have Jesus see it from our point of view, and to view things exactly as we ourselves see them. Undoubtedly this man felt a certain way about his brother’s willingness to divide the inheritance between the two of them, and his coming to Jesus was not even a means of compromise, but rather as a means of enlisting Jesus to side with him, to see things from his point of view, and to essentially acquiesce to his demand and desire. The more I think about and consider that which is found within this passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but have my mind and thoughts drawn to three distinct passages found within Scripture which deal with certain matters which were found within this portion of Scripture. Sitting here this morning my mind is drawn first to the account of Mary and her sister Martha from the town of Bethany when Martha invited Jesus to dine and fellowship with them. I can’t help but be also be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the sixth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written unto the Corinthian saints concerning disputes which took place between the brethren. Finally, my mind is drawn to the words which James the half-brother of Jesus wrote in the fourth chapter of the epistle which he wrote within the New Testament. Consider if you will each of these accounts, and consider how closely the language and words found within these passages of Scripture closely tie together with what is found within this passage in the New Testament gospel of Luke:

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a. Certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cambered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath. Left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saint? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? IF then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revivers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:1-11).

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Yup lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God” Whosoever therefore will be a grains of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwellers in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw night to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubled minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:1-10).

Each of these passages can be directly associated and linked with the words which we find within the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke—particularly and especially the passage that describes Jesus in the house of Martha. As you read the account of Jesus within the house of Martha you will find that while Mary chose to sat at Jesus’ feet—perhaps with others present in the house at that time—to hear and listen to His words, Martha was cambered about with much serving. Martha—feeling as though she was forced to serve all alone—came unto Jesus and asked Him if He cared that she was left to serve all alone, and then point blank asked Jesus to be a mediator between her and her sister. Essentially what Martha asked Jesus to do was to speak to her sister and instruct her to come and help her in the serving and preparation that needed to take place. That which Martha sought from Jesus was to see things from her point of view, and to even speak to her sister for her and on her behalf. Martha felt slighted, and felt as though she was short-changed in that she was left to serve all alone, and she felt as though Mary should help her in all the work and labor that needed to take place. It’s interesting and worth noting how Jesus didn’t seem to address Martha’s request at all, but rather spoke directly to the condition of her heart and soul, for Jesus declared unto her that she was careful and troubled about many things. Without taking sides, and without even acknowledging Martha’s request to have Mary join her in the preparation and serving, Jesus spoke directly to the condition of Martha’s heart and soul, and spoke unto her concerning her being careful and troubled. In other words, it was through her serving that it was revealed unto her, and she came face to face with the fact that her heart and soul were incredibly burdened with all the pressure which she perhaps imposed upon herself. In all reality, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus would have been content to have both sisters sit at His feet and hear and listen to His words. Martha felt and perhaps believed within her heart that the most needful thing was to engage herself in serving and preparation for Jesus—perhaps even for His disciples as well—in order that it would somehow please and bring delight into the heart of Jesus. There is not a doubt in my mind that Martha felt and believed within her heart and mind that the most needful thing for her was to engage in much serving with and while Jesus was in the house, and yet her sister Mary felt the most needful thing was to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear and listen to His words. As a direct result of feeling that what she was doing was more important than what Mary was doing, and even taking issue and offense with having to serve alone, Martha came unto Jesus and entreated Him to instruct her sister to help her with all the serving and preparation that needed to take place.

What is both interesting and unique about that which is found within his passage of Scripture is that Martha essentially thought that Jesus could be enlisted to settle disputes between individuals, and could be persuaded to see things from the point of view of one, while completely ignoring the point of view from another. A similar reality is found in the heart and mind of this man who came into the presence of Jesus and asked Him to speak to his brother and instruct him to divide the inheritance between the two of them. Just as Martha felt slighted and cheated by her sister for leaving her to serve all alone, this man felt slighted and cheated by his brother not dividing the inheritance between the two of them. Thinking and believing that Jesus could be persuaded to not only see things from his point of view, but also side with him, this man sought to come unto Jesus and enlist His services in speaking unto his brother, in order that the inheritance might be divided between the two of them. What we must recognize and realize when we come to both of these passages of Scripture is that Jesus never promised that He could be persuaded or even coerced into seeing things from our point of view, and would even choose sides between brother and brother, sister and sister, brother and sister, and the like. Oh, how many times have we thought and believed that we could somehow cause Jesus to see things from our point of view, and to side with us in our matters and within our disputes? How many times have we thought, felt and believed that we could somehow cause Jesus to choose sides between ourselves and another in order that a matter might be established and settled among us? The danger in what we find in the account of Mary and Martha, as well as that which we find in the account of this man and his brother is that we think, feel and believe that we can somehow bring Jesus to the point and place where He sees things from our point of view, and sides with us on matters which he never promised to judge. In all reality, Jesus never promised He would settle disputes and quarrels between ourselves and our brother(s) or sister(s), and instead the word of God instructs us to take these matters into our own hands, and to settle these matters ourselves. When this man came unto Jesus asking Him to see things from his point of view, and when this man came unto Jesus asking Him to speak to His brother, that which he was ultimately asking was for Jesus to take his side in the matter, and to speak to his brother as though his brother was in the wrong. Oh, how many times have we thought and believed that we could do the same—somehow enlist Jesus to see things from our point of view, to take and choose sides between ourselves and another, and by choosing and taking our side rather than the side of the other individual, the other party is essentially left feeling as though they were betrayed by us.

Could you imagine if Jesus had chosen to side with this man, had chosen to believe this man was right, had chosen to see things from this man’s point of view, and come with him—perhaps to the house of his brother—in order that He might declare unto his brother that he was in the wrong and needed to divide the inheritance. Think about it for one minute what it would and could have been like if Jesus and this man had showed up to the house and home of his brother, as this man spoke unto his brother and declared that Jesus had come with him to speak to him. Perhaps this man would have shown up to the house of his brother and declared unto him that Jesus had something to say to him. Perhaps this man would and could have shown up at his brother’s doorstep and declared unto him that Jesus had something to say to him—something which he needed to hear. Imagine being this man’s brother had Jesus chosen to come with him and speak unto his brother declaring unto him that he needed to divide the inheritance between the two of them. Perhaps this man’s brother wasn’t even at his house, but rather was in the crowd, and this man had essentially gone behind his brother’s back in order that he might somehow enlist the help of Jesus to speak directly to his brother. Imagine being the brother of this man had Jesus chosen to side with this man, and speak directly to him concerning the inheritance. Oh, how many times have we wished that Jesus would see things from our point of view, and would somehow side with us, and speak to those who we feel have wronged and cheated us? How many times have we felt betrayed, wronged, cheated, and even slighted, and we have thought that we could somehow enlist the help of Jesus to side with us, and settle the matter between ourselves and another? What is so interesting about the words which are found within the sixth chapter of the first epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints is that the apostle Paul essentially rebuked them for two distinct matters—the first being that they chose to settle matters in the court of law, and even that among the Gentiles, rather than settling matters between themselves. The second rebuke the apostle Paul issued unto the Corinthian saints was that they chose to be offended, they chose to hold a grudge, they chose to settle the matters in the court of law rather than among themselves. The apostle Paul rebuked them for not choosing to take and accept wrong, and for not suffering themselves to be defrauded. We dare not and must not miss the tremendous significance and importance of this matter, for by doing so we miss out on something which we need to recognize and understand within our own hearts and lives. The Corinthian saints would pursue assistance within and from the courts of the Gentiles to settle matters and disputes among them when they felt they were wronged, cheated, betrayed, and even slighted. Instead of taking wrong, and instead of suffering themselves to be defrauded, the Corinthian saints chose to be offended, chose to hold a grudge, and as a direct result of their mindset and the condition of their heart, they chose to bring their matters within the court of law among the Gentiles.

What we find within the sixth chapter of the first epistle of the apostle Paul unto the Corinthians is a stinging rebuke of these saints for choosing not to suffer themselves to be defrauded, and choosing not to take wrong, and to instead take each other to court among the Gentiles to settle their quarrels and disputes. This is actually quite interesting when you think about and consider it in light of what James wrote in the fourth chapter of the epistle found in the New Testament, for James asks the saints of God point blank what causes wars and fightings among them. What’s more, is that James would go on to declare unto them that the wars and fightings among them came from their own lusts which wage war against the members of the body. Furthermore, James goes on to declare that they lust and have not, they kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain, and even fight and war. What’s more, is James goes on to write and declare that they have not because they ask not, and that even when they do ask, they ask amiss in order that they might consume it upon their own lusts. James takes this a step further and calls them adulterers and adulteresses, and emphatically declares unto them that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Taking it even further than this, James goes on to emphatically declare unto them whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Please don’t miss the severity and significance of the words which are found within this passage of Scripture within the epistle written by James, for not only does James speak to the reality of friendship with the world, but James also speaks of the lusts that not only wage war within our own bodies, but also wage war against those before and around us. James emphatically declares that the reason fightings and wars took place among the members of the body of Christ and saints of God was because of the lusts which were present within their hearts. These brothers and sisters lust and have not, kill and desire to have, and cannot have, and even fight and war in order to somehow obtain that which they have lusted after within their hearts. Essentially, in order to satisfy the lusts which were present within the hearts of those whom James was writing to, they would kill, fight and war, and would engage themselves in great conflict in order to obtain that which their hearts desired. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the account of Ahab king of Israel when he wanted Naboth’s vineyard because it was close to the place. Originally and initially Ahab approached Naboth and offered to pay fair price in order that he might purchase the vineyard from him in order that he might add it to what he already had. Naboth refused Ahab’s offer, for the vineyard was more than simply a possession which he had, but was also his inheritance—that which was passed down to him through the generations. Saddened and grieved by this rejection, Ahab told his wife Jezebel what had happened, and Jezebel declared unto Ahab that she would get him this vineyard. Inviting Naboth to a meal, and enlisting the help of false witnesses and those who would wrong accuse Naboth in the presence of those at this meal, Naboth would be killed, and the vineyard would be seized. A similar reality is manifested within the life of David when David had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, and as a result of this adulterous affair, Bathsheba became pregnant with child. When David’s initial attempts to cover up his affair were unsuccessful, he decided to have Uriah killed in battle—not only that he might conceal and cover up the affair, but also to take Bathsheba as his wife. It was through the rebuke of the prophet who had come unto David that David found himself as the man who stole and robbed from another through murder and violence.

When you come to the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke, and to this passage concerning this one who asked Jesus to instruct his brother to divide the inheritance between the two of them, you will find Jesus asking him point blank who made Him judge or divider over and between them. What is interesting and unique about this passage is essentially what comes after, for immediately after Jesus spoke these words unto this man, He declared unto those who were present on this occasion that they ought to take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesses. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we consider this and consider it well, for with these words Jesus was speaking to the true nature of the heart of this man, which was in fact covetousness. Jesus recognized, knew and understood that the root cause of this man’s request in His presence was not that the matter would be settled between himself and his brother, but rather covetousness and greed which was present within his heart. With the words Jesus spoke after speaking directly to this man, we find Jesus addressing those who were present on this particular occasion and speaking unto them concerning covetousness and the desire for possessions and worldly things. Remember the words which James wrote in his epistle concerning friendship with the world being enmity with God, and those who are friends of the world are enemies of God? Undoubtedly what was present within the heart of this man was not simply a matter of wanting to be right, and wanting Jesus to take and choose his side, but rather covetousness and greed within his heart. Jesus recognized and understood that the true root of this man’s request in His presence was not that the dispute might be settled, or even that the inheritance itself be divided, but rather than his covetousness might be satiated and satisfied. That which Jesus spoke after speaking directly to this man had absolutely nothing to do with his request, but rather to the root of his request, which was in all reality greed and covetousness. Jesus knew and understood that what this man really wanted was the inheritance to be divided in order that he might satisfy his own lusts, his own greed, and his own covetousness. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to speak and declare that a man’s life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesses. Jesus would then go on to speak forth a parable concerning the ground of a rich man which brought forth plentifully, and how this man thought within himself how he had no place to bestow his fruits. What this man chose to do was pull down his barns in order that he might build bigger and greater, and therein would he bestow all his fruits and goods. Once the barns were built and all his fruits and goods were present within them, this man would speak to himself concerning his having goods laid up for many years. What’s more, is that from this place of having much goods stored up for years to come, this man would simply “eat, drink and be merry.” Little did this man recognize and understand that God would speak unto him that night and declare that his soul would be required of him, and that his goods and possession would be left to absolutely no one. Jesus concludes the parable by declaring that men and women who lay up treasures for themselves here upon the earth and are not rich toward God are just like this man.

Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is not only whether or not we have laid up treasures for ourselves here on the earth rather than in heaven, but also whether or not we are rich toward God. The question we must ask ourselves is centered upon the words which Jesus spoke concerning “where our treasure is, there also will our heart be.” One of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is where our treasure truly is, and where our heart is truly found. Jesus declared that where our treasure is there also would our heart be, which means that if our treasure is here on the earth, than our heart is here on the earth with the things of the earth. If there are two realities which we must take from this particular passage they are simply that our lives consists not in the abundance of things we possess, and that we dare not, we ought not, and must not lay up treasures for ourselves here on the earth and are not rich toward God. Oh that we would recognize and understand that it is possible to be rich here on the earth, and to have many possessions in this life, and yet not be rich toward God, nor even have treasure in heaven. It is possible that we have laid up for ourselves much treasure here upon the earth, and have built for ourselves figurative barns so to speak which we have housed all our treasures and possessions, and yet we have spent time investing in the kingdom fo heaven, nor even laying up for ourselves treasure in heaven. The question we must ask ourselves is how much of our lives have we truly spent devoting ourselves to the kingdom of heaven, and to laying up and storing for ourselves treasure in heaven. How much time have we wasted pursuing the possessions and goods of this world rather than storing up and laying up for ourselves treasure in heaven? How rich might we be in the here and now, and yet how poor we are toward God? IN your pursuit of things and possessions in the here and now, have you in fact become poor toward God? In your feverish attempt to gather unto yourselves things and possessions, have you neglected that thing which ultimately matters—namely, laying up for yourself treasure in heaven in order that you might be rich toward God? Oh, how much of our lives are spent worrying about what we will eat, what we will drink, what we will wear, and the various other cares of the world which have the ability to choke the word within our hearts? How much of our times do we neglect seeking first the kingdom fo God and the righteousness therein because we have devoted all our time to seeking and pursuing the things of this world? The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we would be willing to give up the things we possess, and sell the things we possess—not only in order that we might give to the poor, but also that we might be rich toward God and have treasure for ourselves in heaven rather than here upon the earth. The final words within this passage of Scripture are “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and we must be willing to confront, answer and accept whether or not our treasure and heart are here within and upon the earth, or whether or not our treasure will be in heaven where neither thief enter, nor moth or \rust corrupt and destroy.

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