In Christ, our identity isn’t tied to our past failures. We’re what we’ve become solely by God’s grace. The recipient of grace in this story is described simply as “a man with leprosy” (Mark 1:40), but Christ’s healing touch would transform this individual’s anonymous suffering into a powerful testimony (see Matthew 8:2). Labeling his problem was simple, and obtaining cleansing from Christ was, in his case, immediate (see Mark 1:42). For some, sobriety comes quickly, instantaneously, as soon as they surrender to Jesus. But for others it is a process.
This one-time leper was cured of his disease by the touch of Jesus. But Jesus wasn’t through with him. There were still some steps to take. Our Lord instructed the man to
– keep silent about the miracle
– show himself to the priest
– offer the gift (sacrifice) required by the Mosaic Law
All these steps tie directly to that law. Jesus was careful to do everything according to the law under which he had been born and now lived. The new covenant, which depended on Jesus’ death and resurrection, was still in the future. Under the law, neither the cured man nor Jesus had the authority to publicly declare a leper cleansed. That was work assigned by God to the priests (see Leviticus 14:2-32). Jesus wouldn’t consider breaking the law, and keeping that particular law would make this man a “testimony to them” (Matthew 8:4)—that is, to the priests who would carry out the required rituals.
Jesus wants to transform us, too, into testimonies as we practice the principles that Christ presented (see 5:1-10) during his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. This man’s healing took place as Jesus “came down from the mountainside” after delivering the great sermon that encapsulates the principles of recovery. These principles, combined with God’s power, change our identity. Rather than being an alcoholic, an addict, or an abuse victim, each of us becomes a testimony to God’s grace.
I’ll Turn Every Blessing Into Praise
Jesus followers—and even people who are unsure of God—often respond to tragedy by first appealing to God for help and then questioning His intentions. Either way, difficulty has a way of making us aware of our dependence on God. In these moments when He is all we have, hopefully we can realize that He is all we need.
For Job of the Bible, this was no mental exercise. Job actually experienced the loss of everything he held most dear in life. How did he respond? His book is where we get the phrase, “blessed be the name of the Lord!”
In both trial and blessing, a grateful heart returns praise to God. When we fail to praise God for His blessings, we make fertile soil for poisonous seeds of pride in our hearts. Ideas like, “I deserve this, I earned this, and I did this,” begin to take root and overshadow God’s providential work in our lives. When we instead return God’s blessings as praise, we make fertile soil for God to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.
In order to live with an ongoing, unending awareness of God’s presence, you must develop the habit of instant obedience to God.
15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
If you are like me, then there are moments when the pressures of life are overwhelming. From finances, to family needs, to work pressures, to friendships, to health issues and the list goes on and on.
When the pressures of life start becoming too much I just stop what I am doing and say “FROG!” (I will admit that sometimes I even yell it.)
This helps me to clear my mind….get myself out of the way….and give it all to God. I already know in my heart that He has it handled anyway. Sometimes….I just need a good old FROG reminder!
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
My life is a series of #TESTS. When I get to HEAVEN, I will have GRADUATED!!
I have an active, healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. We spend the mornings and evening in conversation. He gives me gifts and blessing through out the day. I never leave home without letting Him know where I’m going or when I plan to return. Our relationship is strong and secure. There are times that I feel He is doesn’t give me His feedback because He is testing my character, my faith, my demeanor and my trust in Him. Sometimes He will leave an extra blessing for me to share with someone else and I often wonder if He is testing me when He does that – SO I ALWAYS look for ways to share. I often wonder if He would have me share because there are people who don’t know of Him for themselves and I am the only link to HIM for them. I wonder? What about you? Do you know HIM? Do you share the goodness of HIM with anyone else? Just thinking out loud.
Every time I pass a test, God notices and makes plans to reward me in HEAVEN!
What #metaphor do you use to paint a picture of your life? Are you living your life OnPurpose?
I pray you share the goodness of Jesus today…OnPurpose!!