Left Behind

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 

Matthew 19:28-29

We will face hardship in the world. Some of it will be just the inevitable result of the brokenness of a sinful world. Some of it will be the result sinful choices of people around us. Some of it will be the consequences of sin in our own life. Some of it will be opposition from the enemy trying to hamper who we were created to be and what we were created to do.

Yet, there is another category of hardship that comes with following Jesus. There will be times when Jesus asks us to leave behind something that we love in order to pursue His calling on our life. There will be times when we are called to take up our cross and follow Him.

He may call us to give up food at certain intervals in order to fast and pray. He may call us to get up earlier to exercise or spend more time with Him. He may call us to change jobs, move to a new place, or give our money to an organization in a sacrificial way that feels painful. He may call us to leave behind the American dream in order to pursue His dream for our life.

Whatever it is that we are called to leave behind, Jesus gives us a promise in its place. Whatever we give up for the sake of the name of Jesus will be repaid to us a hundred times over. Whatever we allow to die will be planted in the ground and will produce a harvest much larger than whatever we gave up. Our inheritance from the Lord will be much bigger that whatever we sacrificed.

How gracious is our God! If He tells us to leave behind something not good for us, like sin, it sets us free and makes us whole. If He tells us to leave behind something that is good for us as a sacrifice to Him, He ends up paying us back a hundred times over anyway. This is the generosity of the Lord! This is the grace of God!

What is God asking you to leave behind as He calls you further into Himself?

The Grace of God

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 2:11-14

Paul writes to his co-minister in the gospel, Titus, who is acting as the apostolic leader over the island of Crete. Notice how Paul describes grace and the gospel. Here are some things this passage of scripture teaches us:

  1. Salvation is offered to all people. This lines up with 1 Timothy 2:3-4 which says that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
  2. If God wants everyone saved and offers salvation to all people and yet not all people are saved, then this means that what God wants to happen in this world doesn’t always happen. There are forces of sin and evil that push against God’s will being done.
  3. Notice that grace here doesn’t just save us. It doesn’t only justify us, putting us in right standing with God. Grace also teaches us–empowers us–to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. Grace doesn’t just forgive. Grace enables. Grace empowers us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives even in the midst of this present evil age. So if someone is making excuses for their sin and then follows with something like, “But, I live by grace, not works-righteousness” then they don’t understand grace. If we truly live by grace, we are empowered and enabled to say “No” to sin. Grace enables.
  4. Notice also the reason why Jesus sacrificed Himself. Paul gives us two reasons: a) to redeem us from all wickedness, and b) to purify for himself a people who are eager to do good. Jesus’ death and resurrection wasn’t just about getting us saved. It was also about having us purified. We are washed clean by the blood of of the Lamb, cleansed by the washing with water through the word, refined by the fire of the Holy Spirit, and illuminated by the light of Christ in whom there is no darkness. Jesus wanted a people who were His very own, who lived and acted just like Him.