We’re walking you through the week after Christmas. I call it “Bah Humbug Week.” It’s a time of recovery from Christmas. It’s often a difficult week.
I believe it’s an essential week.
A time to slow down.
A time to take inventory of the past week.
An opportunity to look toward the coming new year.
A man can have many dogs in his life, but normally there is one that occupies a special place in your heart.
For me, that dog was Ivory. A yellow lab with intelligent eyes and a perpetual smile, she graced our home for nearly fourteen years.
Ivory actually belonged to my son Clint but when he left for college, she stayed. She became my dog, or rather, she chose me as her master.
A few years later, Clint and I walked out of the camp office together. Ivory, grinning her silly smile, expectantly thumped her big tail against the wall.
I challenged Clint to a test, “Let’s find out who Ivory really loves the most. You go north toward the road and I’ll go east to the Tabernacle. We’ll see who is her master.”
He reluctantly agreed to my challenge. I was confident she would follow me because of how faithfully she always follows me each day.
We both agreed not to look back until we had reached our respective spots. As I walked the seventy-five feet to the Tabernacle, I expected at any time to hear her steps behind me.
Reaching the sidewalk I stopped and looked at Clint. He stood on his spot, the same distance from our starting point.
Ivory was sitting right where we’d left her, anxiously looking back and forth. She wagged her tail, grinning at both of us. She seemed to be saying, “Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe . . . .”
I walked to Clint. Ivory ran to us. I knelt and patted her head. “I’m sorry to do that to you. We won’t put you in a bind like that again. You love both of us.”
The words of Jesus came to me as I thought about Ivory’s allegiance. Jesus clearly stated that no man can serve two masters. In the Sermon on the Mount, he clearly spoke of allegiance and dedication, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
The scariest part is this: many times, we stand and look back and forth at which master we will serve. The object drawing us away from God is often something good, but anything that blocks our commitment and dedication to God is harmful, no matter what it is. We must not settle for good when we can have the best—an intimate relationship with Jesus.
We cannot serve two masters. Just as Ivory whined at being unable to choose between her two masters, we are most unhappy when we are in the no man’s land of attempted dual allegiance.
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One more thought on choosing a master.
We need a full understanding of what the word means.
I loved to hear T.J. Crosby pray. He used the endearing term “Master” throughout his prayers. It was his default address to God.
It’s a good term.
Master. It says a lot.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone else use the term in their praying.
Master. It means Boss.
It’s a subservient term, and we Westerners don’t like being servile.
A person who exercises authority… dominates.
Doesn’t sound like a sweet cooing baby.
It’s easier to keep Jesus in that manger than to think of one who “directs and controls.”
A victor who conquers.
It’s a first cousin to the more familiar ‘Lord.’
The finest example of the term master is in the gospels.
Let me set the stage. Simon Peter, a strong Galilean fisherman, has Jesus the carpenter in his boat. Jesus says, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
Simon answers, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.”
The Jesus Film, based on the book of Luke, nails this scene. Burly bearded Simon looks confused, “But Master, we fished all night and didn’t catch a thing.” Then shrugs and smiles. “But if you say so, we’ll do it.”
There’s a principle here: If someone is master, we’ll obey him or her. We’ll even obey them when it doesn’t make sense. Sea of Galilean fishermen caught fish at night. Last night had been a waste. It didn’t make sense to try again.
Other than Jesus said it.
We remember the WWJD bracelets so popular in the 90s. “What Would Jesus Do?”
A lady made me a similar one.
DWJS. Do What Jesus Says.
Pretty simple. Pretty profound.
Secondly, when we know Jesus is our Master, we’ll worship him.
We’ll bow in admiration, respect, and love.
That’s hard for us Americans. It’s in our blood to be independent. That attitude of “I’m no better than anyone but no one’s better than me.” It permeates my culture in the piney woods of western Louisiana.
Our ancestors came here to be left alone. Not beholden to anyone.
But if we worship Jesus, we must bow to him.
He’s worthy of our worship.
Finally, if we recognize Jesus as Lord and Master, we’ll follow him.
Go where he leads.
Strive to walk closely with him.
Sometimes, the most miserable person in the world is not the person who has no room for God in their life. Yes, that person is unhappy and unfulfilled. However, there is probably no worse spot to be in than attempting to be both a follower of Jesus and the world. May we constantly be reminded of the love and grace of Jesus. Let us never forget His strong call for us to forsake this world and our own wants to wholeheartedly follow Him, this Amazing Jesus, the Son of the Living God.
Poor Ivory waffled back and forth between serving two masters. Often, I’m just like her, wanting to hang onto this old world yet reaching for higher things.
“Then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…
…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15