January 19, 2023 — He could have said “No,” but he didn’t

“The other day,” Stan commented one morning while we waited for breakfast, “I was looking again at how Matthew responded to Jesus and how it applies to my faith walk.”

“What were you looking at?” I asked.

“I think you know the story,” Stan replied, “how Matthew responded immediately when Jesus said to follow Him.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Wasn’t he some sort of tax collector who went by the name ‘Levi’ at that point in his life?”

“That’s right,” Stan replied. “It says that Jesus saw him in his office or booth or whatever it was, told him to follow Him, and he did. He left everything and followed Jesus. Just look at what happened with him!”

“He went on to be an apostle who wrote one of the four gospels,” I commented. “Quite a legacy.”

“Legacy, indeed,” Stan said. “All because he did what Jesus said. It makes me wonder about what if he would have responded differently and how that relates to me and my faith walk.”

“Responded differently?” I said. “How?”

“What if Matthew would have said, ‘No’?” Stan replied. “Just think about what he would have missed. I look at all I probably missed in my life by saying ‘No’ for too long. I think about all I am missing now when I say “No’.”

“Oh,” I replied. “I guess Matthew could have said ‘No.’ Kind of like the guy referred to as the ‘rich young ruler.’ He said ‘No,’ he went away, and was never heard from again.”

“That’s right,” Stan said. “We all have a choice to make when Jesus says, ‘Follow Me.” Do we do like Matthew and drop everything, get up, and follow, or do we say ‘No’ or something like, ‘I’m kind of busy right now, can I get back to you?’ Matthew could have said ‘No,’ or put it off, but he didn’t. How about me? How about you?”


Bible verses to consider:

And after that He went out, and noticed a tax-gatherer named Levi, sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind, and rose up and began to follow Him. Luke 5:27-28.

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he rose and followed Him. Matthew 9:9.

And Jesus said to him (the rich young ruler), “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property. Matthew 19:21-22.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of life eternally with you through the cross of Christ. Thank you for those people you brought into my life to tell me the truth so I could choose to accept your free and gracious provision. Thank you, too, for your provision of discipleship so I can work out the salvation that was worked in by Jesus’ finished work. I confess that too often I do not follow as closely as you intend. I do that because that is what I choose to do. Please forgive the foolishness of not denying myself, not taking up what you have for me to take up, and not following as closely as you want. Please help me to do so, just as you intend. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of the One I am to follow. Amen.

Think on this: Have you chosen to follow Jesus in the sense that you know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time? If no, why? What’s in the way of accepting God’s free and gracious provision? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with following Jesus on this side of eternity in working out the salvation He worked in by His finished work on the cross? If you sense the need for change in how you follow Him, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

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