Week of Jan. 17

Dust off Your Testimony

Read: Genesis 29-30; Luke 12

“In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.’”
Luke 12:1, ESV


A popular adage reminds us of the importance of foundational commitments: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” In other words, core values are the foundation of how you and everyone around you conduct themselves. Christians are to make sure that the worship of the Father is the supreme value in their lives. It will show in how they conduct themselves.

The collection of sayings in verses 2-12 sounds weighty and it is. We have moved from a meal provided for thousands (9:10-17) to a mountain-top moment (9:28-36) to missional success (9:1-6; 10:1-12) where all appeared to be spring-like blue skies and calm winds. It is easy to follow Jesus in such warmth. Chapter 12 suggests that dark clouds are forming and there is a distinct chill in the air. Trouble is brewing! The Lord challenges his followers to be vigilant. We have much to consider in this section, especially in our culture where Christianity has enjoyed favor for as long as we can remember. Christ’s disciples exhibit total faithfulness to the Father.

Let's See What the Bible Says

Let’s situate ourselves in the context of Luke 12. Jesus embarks upon a discourse in this chapter that carries through chapter 13, verse 21. He warns against imitating the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that concludes his teaching in chapter 11 and then directs his words of instruction to his disciples (12:1). He teaches that discipleship requires a fundamental allegiance to God, not people, power, or wealth. This commitment represents an absolute value placed upon loyalty to the Father and demands remaining faithful to him.

Jesus’ popularity with the masses was evident wherever he traveled (12:1, “so many thousands”). The crowds heard his teachings and were introduced to the meaning of discipleship, but the heart of Jesus’ message was directed toward those sincere followers of his inside those large gatherings. The Lord offers us a sobering reminder to be discerning with what we hear and take into our lives (12:1b, “leaven of the Pharisees”). I believe that we all should get a copy of that podcast, don’t you think? Seriously, there is much hurtful religious influence in our day as well. Christ-followers are to be discerning. Here are things to consider when seeking to be faithful to Christ.

First, guard your heart. Jesus reminds us that hypocrisy will be revealed and judged (12:2-3). The hypocrisy in question had been outlined in 11:37-54. Jesus teaches us to be cautiously aware of what is on the inside of religious leaders. Hypocrisy, greed, and evil will be on full display when God judges (cf. 11:39). There has been too much backroom politicking and cronyism throughout Christian history, but Christ forbids it among his sincere followers. One of my mentors always taught me to “Trust God and tell the people.” Stand on truth and be transparent. Good advice, I believe. There is more.

Secondly, submit supremely to God. Jesus reminds us who ultimately wields the power (12:4-5). He calls his listeners, “Friends” which is only used for disciples here and in John 15:13-15 (NAC). Robert Stein believes that Jesus used the word so that his followers knew that he was not referring to them when he called out the hypocrisy of religious leaders (NAC). He let them know that opponents would be vicious. They had treated the prophets horribly (11:47) and even some of his followers would experience the same (11:49). The heart of his message was sobering: They may kill you physically, BUT they can never touch your ultimate destiny (12:4-5). No outside power can affect the eternity of a true Christ follower! So, remain steadfast. There is one more thing to consider.

Thirdly, rest in God’s care. Jesus reminds us that God truly values our well-being (12:6-7). Sparrows were good, cheap food and the poor sought this fowl as a source of nourishment. A penny, worth 1/16th of a denarius, was about as insignificant as money could be. However, Jesus was reminding his followers that nothing that happens to a sparrow or a penny is outside of the Father’s providential rule of creation. You may be considered to be insignificant to worldly leaders, but you are loved eternally by the Father. Throw yourself into his arms and care.

Let's Deepen Our Walk

One of the most powerful childhood remembrances of a faith-leader that I have was the testimony of a quite elderly woman in our church. We traveled to her home each Christmas to sing carols to her. Her house was cluttered, and I remember our giggles among one another whenever we sat on a couch or chair and the dust would float into the air and tickle our noses. Mrs. Thayer would always encourage us to trust Jesus, but it never really soaked into my mind until she was asked to give her testimony at church. She began to speak, and I was transfixed by her words. She had given a lifetime of devotion to Christ through many joys and sorrows.

Here is how we may be be formed spiritually like Mrs. Thayer. There was dust on everything in her home, but her loyalty to Christ had no dirt on it! Her confession of Christ was followed by a lifetime of commitment to him. She was clothed in the white raiment of holiness! Fifty-five-plus years have passed since those encounters with her, but her fidelity to Christ is what I remember. Countless others who sought the acclaim of men have long departed the scene and left my memory. Starr Thayer remains in my mind and heart to this day as a faithful follower of Christ. Imitate her example.

Let's Think and Discuss

1. Ponder the anchors in your spiritual life. Are your spiritual commitments anchored to power, money, or fame? Make certain that your disciple life is attached supremely to Christ, then follow him come what may.

2. For families: Help your children to memorize chapter 12, verse 2. Play a game where you hide various objects in a pocket, beneath a shirt, or inside one of your socks. Ask the children to guess what you have hidden there. Then, ask them to do the same thing. After each child has participated, then remind them that each person knew what was hidden until it was revealed. Explain that God already knows what we are attempting to hide from him and others. He wants us to be honest with him and others.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock