A Trustworthy Seal

November 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

Once in a blue moon I may return home from a trip to the grocery store and find that one of the products I had purchased had been violated. Many products have a seal, a security seal, that offers protection and assurance to the purchaser that what is being purchased is right. It’s just as it was intended. It also comes with a warning that may declare something like this:

“Do not consume if seal is broken.”
“Sealed for your protection.”
“Warranty void if seal is broken.”
“If seal is broken, check contents before accepting.”

The seal on the product ensures our safety and protection from all that would harm us. We find it on food, medicine, and a variety of products. One thing is for sure, a seal is a good thing.

After Jesus had finished feeding the five thousand in John 6, crowds began to follow Him. Jesus knew they did not follow Him because of the miracle, but because they wanted more food. They couldn’t care less about His character, His being, His divinity, or His mission. He gave them food so they were going to ride that horse as long as they could.

After Jesus brought to light the motives only known by them, Jesus offered a statement that baffled.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed this seal of approval.” Then they asked Him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)

It sounds too simple. Believe in the one he has sent. That’s it? Believe? That’s all I have to do?

Not exactly.

With authentic belief comes genuine trust. If we believe in Jesus, recipient of the seal, then we must also trust Jesus, the receiver of the seal. This means when there is no bread, we trust the Jesus. When we can’t see the next step, we trust Jesus. When we don’t know where the next dollar is coming from, we trust Jesus. Why?

The seal. What it represents and who it came from.

The seal placed on Jesus declares that He is trustworthy. The seal placed on Jesus promises that He is truth. The seal placed on Jesus offers protection. The seal placed on Jesus validates His every word and every action. We can so quickly accept the seal on a bottle of aspirin or on a bottle of soda. May we also quickly and readily accept the seal of approval that leads to us to everlasting.

I admit, I don’t know a whole lot about farming, but after reading Matthew 13 this morning I had to go do some research. I wasn’t sure what kind of multiplication was involved with seed. I found that if you plant one carrot seed, you get one carrot. I found that you can get 5-10 potatoes from a single potato plant. You plant a tomato seed and get a tomato plant you can get a whole lot of tomatoes. 

After Jesus explains the parable in Matthew 13, he ends with:

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.

This is where I began thinking about leadership and those christian leaders who have left their mark on the world. It may be easy to look at your life and see how you are not producing very much fruit. Heck, your plant may have long since dried up and dust is the remainder of a faith short lived. Then we look at Christian leaders who are representative of Matthew 13:23. They hear the Word, they understand the Word, and that understanding results in practicing the Word. 

All to often we want the crop without the toil. Here are some examples:

  • You want the promotion but haven’t put in the time.
  • You want honor but have not proven honorable.
  • You want knowledge but refuse education. 
  • You want the success of a CEO but put in the effort of a part-timer.
  • You want a Godly family but do not take them to church, challenge them in their quiet time, pray with them, or model a Godly lifestyle.

YOU DEMAND what you refuse to EARN.

Spiritual growth is no different. If we expect to flourish spiritually, lead spiritually, model spiritually, and experience the success only God can provide, we must be willing to hear the Word, understand the Word, and practice the Word. That’s our part in the equation. God’s part is much cooler.

This is the one who produces crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. – Matthew 13:23

WE CAN NEVER MANUFACTURE THE RESULTS THAT GOD FREELY GIVES TO THOSE WHO ARE OBEDIENT.

You want to be the guy on the platform preaching to 100,000 people? Be the guy that gets up early to spend time in prayer and the reading of His Word. You want to be the woman that empowers other women to reclaim their identity and worth? Be the woman that gets up early to spend time in prayer and the reading of His Word. 

DON’T EXPECT THE RESULTS OF THE FAITHFUL WITH THE OBEDIENCE OF THE SLUGGARD.

There is a lot to be said in the Scriptures about self-control. We know that is a Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), it’s the result of a life lived in Christ. Proverbs adds beautiful and sober imagery to self-control and allows us to view it not as theory but as practice. It creates the image of the life of a person existing as a city. Each city is often placed near water in order to be able to irrigate crops which provide food and also for the obvious, so that those within the city won’t die of thirst. 

The city was often placed in a position where it could most easily defend itself. The walls were thick and tall and meant to protect the people within its walls as well as to keep intruders out. Let’s look at the great city of Jericho’s dimensions:

The mound, or “tell,” of Jericho was surrounded by a great earthen rampart, or embankment, with a stone retaining wall at its base. The retaining wall was some 12–15 ft high. On top of that was a mudbrick wall 6 ft thick and about 20–26 ft high (Sellin and Watzinger 1973: 58). At the crest of the embankment was a similar mudbrick wall whose base was roughly 46 ft above the ground level outside the retaining wall. This is what loomed high above the Israelites as they marched around the city each day for seven days. Humanly speaking, it was impossible for the Israelites to penetrate the impregnable bastion of Jericho.

What does this have to do with self-control? EVERYTHING. 

It doesn’t matter how strong your desire, how great your ambition, or how mighty your resolve. If you lack self-control you are simply inviting the enemy into the fortified city of your life. No matter how great the walls are, one area of absence in self-control can cost us EVERYTHING. Here are some examples:

  • FOOD: Lack of self-control affects energy and invites sickness and disease. This limits your ability to do what God has called you to do. It allows for excuses, embarrassment, and lack of confidence and can lead to an early death leaving behind a family who was robbed to soon of your love, presence, and support.
  • DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Coming from a family who has a history of alcohol abuse, I see the immediate impacts. Wasted money, lack of financial security, verbal and physical abuse, neglect, etc. Should I really go on about this one?
  • SEX: An addiction to sex (outside of marriage) destroys a life in so many ways. If married, affairs destroy trust, break apart the family unit, and ruin relationships. Do we need to get into the other areas (bestiality, pedophilia, homosexuality, rape, sex trafficking, pornography )? 
  • SLEEP/LAZINESS: People who refuse to get up waste time and are ineffective. They lack control of their schedule and in doing so force others to dictate their pace instead of taking control of their own lives. Then there is laziness.

I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest- and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:30-34

What area of your life lacks self-control? What enemies are you inviting into your fortified city? Are you prepared for the destruction that will follow?