At the end of our previous meeting, our friend who believed that the Bible promises us riches if we become a Christian said that blessings in the Old Testament and the New Testament must be different. Surely we are intended to be rich based on the promises of the New Testament because he said that he believes that the scriptures teach this.
I suggested that we take a look at what Jesus taught his disciples about being and giving a blessing to others, so in our next meeting, we read Matthew 10. The idea behind this was to see what Jesus taught his disciples about what they could expect when he sent them out to speak about the kingdom of God and extend a blessing to the homes and villages where they would stay.
In a very similar way that God chose Abraham, blessed him with his presence, and then also told him that he would be a blessing to others, Jesus now chooses his 12 disciples and sends them out to be a blessing to others in the villages in nearby villages.
So, what can we learn from what Jesus instructed his disciples? Here are a few thoughts:
First, Jesus told his disciples not to take any money. They were going to be dependent upon God and the people that they would stay with for any provisions that they would have.
“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts — no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.Matthew 10:9-10
Next, they should expect to be beaten for their association with Jesus.
Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.Matthew 10:17
It is also possible that they may be killed.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.Matthew 10:21
They will be hated and will even be called the devil (Beelzebul). Not just for a brief period, but until Jesus returns!
You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!Matthew 10:22-25
And finally, Jesus’s disciples should expect to lose their life if they want to truly follow him.
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.Matthew 10:38-39
So what can we learn? I think that it is clear that riches, power, and even good health are not necessarily part of the equation. As we obey with Jesus tells us to do, we can expect that many challenges will come. Not money. Not fame. No, Jesus calls us to serve him by being ambassadors to others for him, and as we do this, the rewards are not the things of this world. Instead, our reward is Jesus and our life with God.
Unfortunately, our Nigerian friend still has many doubts and still believes that blessing others means to be rich. We will continue to study and try to help him see what he can expect as God blesses him and calls him to bless others!