Matthew 4:18-22 — James and John — No Excuses, Just Trust!

Posted: September 18, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 4:18-22 — In the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, George Bailey spent much of his life wishing he were somewhere else, traveling the world, seeing the bright lights of foreign cities. However, throughout most of his life, he let circumstances get in his way. There was always one reason or another that prevented him from living out what he thought was the dream life. Life got in the way. The family business got in the way. The death of a brother got in the way. The economic collapse of the 1930s we call The Depression got in the way. A wife and then kids got in the way. Although George was true blessing by living the life that he lived, there were always reasons not to do what he felt he wanted to do with his life. Aren’t we that way when it comes to serving the Lord with our time, talents, and resources? We let excuses get in the way.

Here in this passage as we conclude our look at Matthew 4:18-22, we see that James and John were busy with their family business. The nets had to be fixed. There would have been a good excuse not to follow Jesus into his ministry. They were there working with their father in the family business. I am sure that there could have been excuses to say thank you, Jesus, but I cannot leave right now. Maybe, when you come back through Capernaum, I will be ready. There are these excuses that we use to when God calls us to work for his kingdom, whether its a mission trip, whether its going in the ministry, whether its being a missionary, whether its being a church planter, serving in a homeless shelter, moving to India to fight sex trafficking, serving as foster parents, moving to an Islamic nation to spread the gospel, helping out with delivering meals to homebound elderly folks, moving to the inner city to help tutor inner city youth, you name it.

We often use the excuse that we cannot break away from our job. We say that we would love to be “on mission” somewhere but my job and the money that I make at it just makes it impossible. I don’t have time to leave my job. I have a career that I am trying to build. Maybe, when I get to this level at my job, I cannot take the time off to do what you are asking Lord but not right now. It’s too complicated.

We often use the financial stress that we are under as the excuse not to go on mission. If I did not have this mortgage and these cars. If I didn’t have two kids in college at the same time. If I didn’t have kids in high school needing $200 for this and $200 for that. Sure, Lord, maybe one day, I will follow your call if and when I get rid of all this debt I have. I just don’t see how I can do it right now.

We often use our families as an excuse. My kids are little. I could never move them to a new place here in the United States to serve you Lord much less to a foreign country. We might use that my wife and kids have grown accustomed to the lifestyle that I am able to provide them with what I make now. It is not a good time. Maybe when the kids are grown, Lord. Maybe, your wife is from around here and has never lived anywhere else. That can become an excuse too…she will never leave!

And I am not talking just changing careers mid-life. I am not talking becoming a missionary in a foreign land or even in the inner cities of the United States. I am not just talking going into the full-time ministry in a local church. We do not have to do these types of things to be following the Lord’s calling. I am talking too about serving at your church where you are at. We use excuses there too. I would serve in the community outreach ministries of my church if I just had the time. I’ve got the kids soccer games. I would serve on that day but I have season tickets and parking passes to Clemson football or Carolina football. I just don’t have the time. Lord, I wish that I could serve on Sundays but man I would have to be at church for 4 hours on Sunday if I did. I would love to help pack school supplies but we got this thing Sunday afternoon. I would help you go into the neighborhoods of our town to pass out invitations to Christmas services, but it’s just too cold. I would love to go to men’s bible study on Monday night but man the guys want me to go with them to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch Monday Night Football and six men out of 350 at a church show up. I would love to be obedient to you Lord in my finances but I have this new house, two brand new cars, and, yeah, my new Harley. We rationalize away why we cannot serve the Lord in the ways that He has called us and commanded us. We will go and make disciples of all nations…as soon as the kids are out of school, and as soon as I get those cars paid off. We will help the widows and orphans as long as it doesn’t take away from my weekends. What if James and John had said this.

James and John, who I am sure probably already knew of Jesus with them all living in the same town, but that does not take away from the immediacy of their action. Yes, they probably had developed a relationship with Jesus and probably had hung out with Him. They had probably heard Him preach. They probably knew Him as a holy man. They probably respected his reputation most likely. But, when it was crunch time, they responded immediately. When Jesus called, they responded. They did not dig down for excuses. They actually trusted the Lord. They actually did not know from that point forward what was going to happen but they knew that they had to act; that they had to follow. They trusted the provision of the Lord. They trusted too that the Lord would take care of their father; their family. Our excuses show a lack of trust in the power of God. Do we not trust that He will provide for us if we are just obedient to His call? When we use excuses, are we not saying to the Lord, I just really don’t think you can do this? How puny of a God do you believe in? I would tithe Lord but I just don’t see how you can make it happen! I want to be a missionary in a foreign land but I fear that you cannot pull it off Lord. How small and ineffectual do we make our God sometimes! We just gotta have faith! We must trust that our Lord is bigger than our excuses. We must have faith that He will take care of us when we are being obedient to what He would have us do.

It’s crunch time! Will you be like James and John and simply trust in the Lord! Will you believe that He will take care of you? Will you trust Him to change the hearts of your wife and kids so that you follow God’s call as a family? Will you trust Him with your finances and let Him guide you toward living on much less than you make so that you are free to serve? Will you trust Him to provide for you and your family? Will you trust Him with your future? Will you trust Him enough to change careers? Will you trust Him with that James and John kind of trust?

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