Summary: A look at the conditional obedience we often offer God, in comparison with Joseph's complete and costly obedience.
ASKING TOO MUCH? Often our willingness to obey God comes with a pre-set spending limit.
Main illustration: An American Express card vs. a Walmart pre-loaded card.
This is a Walmart pre-loaded card with $50 on it. If I give it to you, you can buy whatever you want. . . up to $50.
This is an American Express card. There is no pre-set spending limit. If I give you one with your name on it and say I'll take care of the bill, you can spend $10 or $10,000.
There is obviously a huge difference between the two. In one, I am severely limiting what you can spend. In the other, I'm giving you carte blanche.
In our relationship with God, many of us know that we're called to obey Him, but we're not as crazy about the fact that we're supposed to obey Him no matter what. We don't mind giving Him a little, but we're not sure about the idea of giving Him everything.
Many of us presume that God's job is to make our lives easy and comfortable. Because of that, we get upset when what He asks of us is inconvenient.
Let's be clear: God's job is not to make your life easier. God's intent for your life is to make you someone who looks and lives like Jesus and for your life to bring glory to His name.
That includes being inconvenienced. That includes challenges and difficulties.
This should not surprise us.
Jesus said we had to take up our cross.
Jesus said we had to deny ourselves.
Jesus said we had to lose our lives.
But we ignore the parts of the Bible that we don't like.
Some of us actually get mad and feel forsaken by God when challenges and difficulties come. “Where are you, God?” “Why are you allowing this, God?”
Now, of course, not all challenges and difficulties are from God. Some arise from the sinful world we live in. Some arise from the enemy. Some arise from our sinful choices.
But some come directly from God Himself.
How much am I willing to be inconvenienced for God's will to be accomplished in my life? How much am I willing to be inconvenienced to see God work through my life?
WHAT WE THINK IS TOO MUCH:
We'll offer conditional obedience.
a. “I will if it's not too hard.”
b. “I will if it's not too scary.”
c. “I will if it's not too heavy.”
I want to be specific this morning about the ways that we tell God He's going over His spending limit. This passage gives us a bunch of examples.
1. When it get harder the further you go.
- Matthew 1:20-21, 24.
It's not enough that Joseph has obeyed once, when the angel told him of Mary's immaculate conception and God's desire that Joseph would marry her. The angel comes back and in some ways asks for more the second time: Joseph is to get up and flee to another country, leaving behind his friends, family, and home.
Often we presume that the further we walk with God the easier it will be. There is certainly a sense in which that can be true because we're closer to God and trust Him more. But it also has to be said that God asks more of us the further we walk down the road. This is because our maturity opens up more opportunity for God to work through us.
2. Right after a high moment.
- Matthew 2:12-13 – Verse 13 - “When they had gone.”
The first twelve verses of chapter 2 tell the story of the wise men showing up at Mary and Joseph's home. Verse 12 tells us that the Magi returned to their country. Let's stop there for a minute.
The wise men show up, telling Mary and Joseph that they've come from a distant country. Then they offer these amazing and expensive gifts to the Child. Think of the glow in the room after the wise men left. What an amazing moment. What an incredible experience.
Then verse 13 says, “When they had gone. . ..” This seems to mean that same evening, perhaps when they had gone to bed for the night.
Think of it: going from the incredible gifts of the wise men to fleeing for your life in the course of less than 8 hours.
When we're on the mountaintop, we usually want to hang out there for a while. But God may well put a huge challenge before us right after a glorious moment.
3. When it's urgent.
- Matthew 2:13 - “Get up.”
Joseph is essentially told to get out of bed, pack his stuff, and head for the hills (well, ok, it's Egypt).
Some of us don't mind doing things for God when they fit into our schedule, but are put out when something urgent comes up that has to be attended to right away.