Judges 4:1-24; Luke 22:24-34; Psalms 94:1-13; Proverbs 21:17-18
NT: “Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them have themselves called ‘Benefactors.’ It is not to be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you should become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. You are those who stood by me in my trials. I bestow on you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. And you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”” (Luke 22:24-32 CSB)
You would think, after 3 years of following Jesus, the disciples would have learned that greatness in the Kingdom is not something that should be fought over. Greatness is not something that can be taken from someone else. Greatness in the Kingdom is serving – it is laying your life down for your brother and loving your neighbor as yourself. The greatest in the Kingdom is the servant of all. It was during this squabble that Jesus taught the disciples what true greatness is by washing their feet. The purpose of discipline is not punishment. The purpose of discipline is correction and teaching. When the disciples started talking smack to each other about who was the greatest, Jesus disciplined them. He corrected them and taught them unto making them more mature disciples. A disciple, then, is someone who is under someone’s discipline. If we are true disciples of Jesus, then we will allow Him to discipline us, just as Jesus disciplined the original 12. Sometimes that discipline comes in the form of trial and testing. When Satan asked to sift Peter (and the other disciples), the Lord had the authority to say no, but He didn’t. Why? The sifting was part of Jesus’ training plan. If Peter was never disciplined in that way, he would never grow strong enough to endure the inevitable hardships to come. And once Peter learned what he needed to learn during the sifting, he was to then strengthen and teach his brothers. All the while, Jesus would be praying for him to endure. Discipline is never enjoyable, but it is needed to build us into mature disciples that can go the distance and endure. God is not committed to our comfort, He is committed to our growth – and if we trust Him to grow us, He will comfort us along the way.
Psalms: “Lord, God of vengeance — God of vengeance, shine! Rise up, Judge of the earth; repay the proud what they deserve. Lord, how long will the wicked — how long will the wicked celebrate? …They say, “The Lord doesn’t see it. The God of Jacob doesn’t pay attention.” Pay attention, you stupid people! Fools, when will you be wise? Can the one who shaped the ear not hear, the one who formed the eye not see? The one who instructs nations, the one who teaches mankind knowledge — does he not discipline? The Lord knows the thoughts of mankind; they are futile. Lord, how happy is anyone you discipline and teach from your law to give him relief from troubled times until a pit is dug for the wicked.” (Psalms 94:1-3, 7-13 CSB)
When we look around and all we see are injustices prevailing – we see ungodly people thriving while the righteous suffer – what do we do? Sadly, many lose their faith, give up hope, and grow angry at God. In their anger and frustration, they abandon God’s ways and embrace the ways of the world. The psalmist was in a similar predicament, but instead of jettisoning his faith, he embraced the Lord even more fully. First, he called on God and prayed to the God of justice and righteousness – asking for the Lord’s will and ways to prevail over the will and ways of the wicked. Then he made the greatness of God known to all who would hear. He made sure that everyone knew that their injustices were not unseen… though they were “getting away with murder” now, they would eventually reap the consequences of their godlessness. After that, he opened his own life up before the Lord and welcomed the Lord’s discipline – asking the Lord to teach him and grow him through the troubled times, that he would be strengthened in his faith and endurance, and receive comfort from the Lord through the test and trials. During this season of trial: 1) Are we praying to the Lord and placing the need for justice in His hand or are we just getting angry? 2) Are we glorifying the Lord and making Him known, or are we sullying God’s reputation by the way we react to the events of the day? 3) Are we allowing the Lord to discipline us, cleanse us, train us, and make us stronger; or are we clinging to our comfort and resisting the discipline of the Lord? The enemy has asked to sift us. Will we give up our faith, or will we endure and come out of this stronger than ever before?