Summary: As Christians we desire to do things for the Lord. But sometimes we are really just doing them for ourselves. Learn how to spot self service and your attitudes while serving.
Most Christians understand that belonging to the Lord means we serve Him and will do things that He tells us to do. We like to think that we do it because we are so thankful for what He has done, or because Jesus commanded us to preach the gospel and make disciples or because we see the example of the servant in the early church. But what you may not be aware of is that there are some very fleshly motivations for service and some real pitfalls we can fall into that change service to self-service. In Luke 10 we see three elements of service - the focus of God’s service through us, the proper object of service, and the focus of our service for God.
1 - 24 Missions Part 2
72: This was the number of nations set out in the Septuagint version of Genesis 10. The Hebrew version has 70, and some manuscripts of Luke have 70. Perhaps the point was that the gospel was to go to all nations. Here they prepare the many villages Jesus will visit on His way to Jerusalem.
A few points: They were harvesters. God does all the work in preparing a heart to receive Him, we just bring it in. Don’t mistake the work of the Holy Spirit for yours, nor think that a lack of fruit is your fault.
A constant prayer should be that God would put it on the hearts of His disciples to share the Good News.
These disciples were going to be very vulnerable in a hostile environment. But just as Jesus said in chapter 7 "let’s go to the other side" if He sends you out then it doesn’t matter how vulnerable you feel.
Jesus wasn’t telling them to be rude - the idea of "not greeting" or going "from house to house" meant that they were not to let other things deter them from their mission. Do things deter you from God’s mission for you?
Shaking off the dust - rejection of the message was not the same as rejecting the messenger. We shouldn’t take rejection of the gospel personally. Sodom will be better off in the judgment because the people of these towns had a much greater opportunity preached to them and they rejected it. Chorazin and Bethsaida were near Capernaum, where Jesus did a lot of His ministry. They heard the gospel and rejected it. Tyre and Sidon were pagan cities to the north. They were evil and had been judged by God (Isaiah 23) but if they had heard the gospel they would have repented (reminds me of Jonah and Nineveh).
In a way, the result of the service mission was that the disciples thought it was pretty cool that the demons obeyed them - power. But Jesus refocused them on the most important thing - salvation, not power.
Service: Focus on: being sent - not preparation, the message - not the messenger, the power of salvation - not the power of the servant. (And don’t focus on Satan).
Privilege or Prejudice
25 - 37 The Good Samaritan
It seems this was in a teaching setting - the man would have spent his life studying the Torah so the question isn’t so much "tell me about it" but "give me your take on it." Eternal life to him would have meant inclusion in God’s kingdom - not our understanding of eternal life spiritually.
The guy answers his own question but then presses for further clarification. Isn’t it interesting that as humans we always want to know just how much we can get away with and still be loyal to God?
The verses the man quotes (Deut 6:5, Lev 19:18) indicate that our vertical relationship with God needs to be the whole self - nothing held back. The second part - "love thy neighbor as thyself" is the horizontal relationship. That’s the one that often gets us into trouble. It’s fine to give whole-hearted devotion to God in our own self interest - but when it comes to giving unselfishly to others we want controls.
So Jesus gives the very famous parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were a mixed group of people brought into the land by the Assyrians after the northern tribes were carried into exile. They worshipped in a different place and a different god - even though they called him Yahweh. So the Jews hated them and the Samaritans hated the Jews. The man would have expected the Samaritan to be the bad guy in this story - but the fact that Jesus makes him the hero would have been surprising.
While we don’t have the rivalries that existed then, we may still find ourselves in the role of the priest of Levite in our own Good Samaritan story. We measure out our love based on who we are and who is in need. Jesus picked a hated group of people to the Jews to show them that real love transcends deserving. How often do we choose who to serve based on who is in "our" group - could be our church, our socio-economic group, our "clique" or others who share our political views.