. . . And Then Some

If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.   And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Matthew 5:39b – 42 (NIV)

Several years ago I was introduced to the phrase, ” . . . and then some.”  It was brought up in the context of customer service and described a policy of doing what was expected and then some!  While the wording was new, the concept was not.  It was the way I was raised and taught by my parents as we did business at the local farmer’s market.  When someone would buy a pound of produce, we would weigh out the pound to make sure the customer was getting what they paid for  and then we would add a little extra to the bag . . . and then some.  For me, it had become a way of life so when I heard this phrase it resonated deep within my spirit.

This way of doing things is much older than me . . . even much older than my parents.  It is the way Jesus taught that His followers should live in relationship with one another and with the world!  As a Christ-follower, you ought to do what is expected, and then some!  To go above and beyond what is expected is a very rare character trait these days both in personal lives and in ministry organizations.  If you look at the teachings of Jesus you will see that it was too common or popular in His day either.  As I look at my life and situations I have been in, I think there are a number of reasons why this “. . . and then some” lifestyle has a tendency to drift out of use.

One of those reasons is that it is unnatural.  Left to our own desires, we are more likely to look out for our own needs first rather than consider what would benefit others.  It takes work, discipline, and the power of God’s Spirit to go beyond what is expected or required.  If we are not deliberate about serving others and going the extra mile, we typically slide into the path of least resistance and only do what we have to do.  

We also severely underestimate the opposition.  On the surface, it doesn’t look like that big of a deal — a little extra here, a little extra there.  What difference does it really make.  It is not really that big of a deal.  I can do this with my eyes closed.  While many times the “. . . and then some” that I am talking about is indeed small and seemingly easy, never underestimate the power that is in it.  Because giving beyond expectations is a Christ-like quality, the enemy attacks with great speed and force to get us to stop.  

Pride often stands in the way of our living an “. . . and then some” lifestyle.  We have a hard time humbling ourselves to serve others.  Pride says that I am most important and I should only do that which lifts me up.  We read the words of Jesus from Matthew 5 and pride begins making excuses as to why that doesn’t apply to me.  Pride says that every good thing in my life is because of me and if I worked hard for all that I am and all that I have, then so can everyone else.  Pride fails to remember that “every good and perfect gift comes from above” and that God’s purpose in giving us various gifts is so we will use each one for the benefit of others — His body.

Related to pride is the sin of greed.  We go to great lengths to disguise this but, if we look under the masks, greed is often found holding on to what we have while demanding that others give us more.  When greed and selfishness control our life, the “. . . and then some” lifestyle completely disappears.  Instead of going above and beyond, we find ways to do even less.  When greed takes over there is not only no “. . . and then some”, but even those things that have always been included are now extra.  Our eyes and mind shift from “How can I serve the people who God has brought to me?” to “How can they serve and support me?”.  This is a very dangerous place to find ourselves in because we end up losing so much more than the minor things that we have tried to hold on to.  Jesus asked the question, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?”  The combination of greed and pride sets us against God and God against us — “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

It is my prayer that I continue to learn and practice this lifestyle of “. . . and then some”.  I pray that each person reading this will spend time with God examining how you are doing in serving others and building them up according to their needs.  I pray that the world has a clearer picture of Jesus as we serve them in His name — doing what is needed and then some!

2 Kings: Lesson 15 — Reaping What You Sow

The following are discussion questions from a weekly study I am leading through the book of 2 Kings.  We meet each Wednesday evening at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

The Unraveling of a Nation

A Study of the Book of 2 Kings

Lesson 15 (Reaping What You Sow)
 2 Kings 15
April 16, 2014

The Text:

  1. Who followed Amaziah as king of Judah? How old was he and how long did he reign? How was his life viewed from the eyes of the Lord? Where did he reign from? Why? Who had charge of the palace and the “governing” responsibilities? When that person comes to reign at the end of this chapter, what do we learn about this current king?
  2. For another view, check out 2 Chronicles 26. What does that tell you about the reason for this king’s condition? Was the condition preventable? What other significant event happened at the end of this king’s life?
  3. How did Zechariah live as king of Israel? How long was he king? How did his reign end? Who followed him? What ended with the end of Zechariah’s reign? Why?  
  4. How long did Shallum reign as king of Israel? How did the end of his reign compare to the beginning of it? Who followed him as king? What enemy came against him? How did he deal with it? What was the outcome?
  5. How did Pekahiah become king? How did he live according to God’s view? What relationship did Pekah have to the king? What did Pekah do? What happened during Pekah’s reign? How did his reign end? 

The Application:

  1. Is it easy or hard to change your actions from what you grew up with? Why? Who would you want to be your “stand-in” if you weren’t able to be in public? Why? Are you known differently by different groups of people? Why?
  2. Why does pride seem to be such a hard sin to avoid? What are some consequences of pride? Can we avoid them? How? What are some advantages to longevity in a role?
  3. When you look at the way people live, do you think they believe sin has consequences? How about if you look at the way you live? Does God’s promises to you give you hope for future generations?        
  4. Do you believe that people today tend to reap what they sow? Are there times that you try to bribe the enemy rather than face it? Are there times you should?  
  5. How well do you know the people you trust? What makes them trustworthy? What compromises are you willing to make in an attempt to live in peace? Are they worth it? 

Next Week:   I Don’t Care
    2 Kings 16

 

2 Kings: Lesson 14 — A Measure of Obedience . . . And Pride

The following are discussion questions from a weekly study I am leading through the book of 2 Kings.  We meet each Wednesday evening at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

The Unraveling of a Nation

A Study of the Book of 2 Kings

Lesson 14 (A Measure of Obedience . . . And Pride)
 2 Kings 14
April 2, 2014

The Text:

  1. Who followed Joash as king of Judah? How did God view his actions? Who did he follow, who did he not follow?  
  2. What did Amaziah do after he was firmly in place as king? How did he limit that action? Why?
  3. What notable thing had Amaziah done? After that, what message did he send to the king of Israel? How did Johoash respond? What did he say had happened to Amaziah? 
  4. Did Amaziah listen to Johoash? What did he do instead? How did that turn out for Judah? How did Amaziah’s life end? Who succeeded him as king of Judah?
  5. Who became king of Israel while Amaziah was king of Judah? How did he live according to God’s sight? What positive things did he do? Why did God use Jeroboam to rescue the people of Israel?

  The Application:

  1. How would you describe the way you live? When describing your way of life, do you find yourself comparing it to that of others? Who? In what ways could that be helpful? In what ways could that be harmful?
  2. Is there a difference between judgment and justice? If so, what? How do you feel about suffering the consequences for what someone else does? Do you think people sometimes suffer consequences because of your actions?
  3. Is it easier to handle success or failure? Why do you think people tend to give themselves credit for success and try to find someone to blame for failures? How do you avoid letting pride take you down a wrong path?    
  4. Why is it so hard to listen to advice when it comes from unwanted sources? Have you ever done something just because someone said you shouldn’t or couldn’t? Should what they say matter one way or the other?     
  5. Are there people that God could/would never use? How do you know? Does God using someone to accomplish His will say more about them, or Him?

 

Next Week:   Reaping What You Sow
   2 Kings 15

 

I Can Do This! Really?

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
Proverbs 14:12

Have you ever watched someone do something that looked so easy you were convinced you could do it?  No instruction, no training, no guidance . . . I mean, seriously, if “they” can do it then anyone can, right?  I tried that with a skateboard once. 🙂  I was working with youth full-time and while they were skateboarding, one of them asked me to give it a try.  I thought, “Why not?  If they can do it, it can’t be that difficult.”  Whoops!  That was a very literal case of pride going before a fall!

While that example may seem humorous, at least to you, it seems many tend to live with that attitude about matters that are much more serious.  Because it is often unseen, we tend to discount the work that goes into things that at first glance appear easy.  This is especially true when you seek to live a godly life and allow prayer to be the fuel that powers all of your accomplishments.  Because effective prayer isn’t done to be “seen by men”, it is easy for people to see what God accomplishes all the while discounting the unseen power of prayer — and therefore, the person praying.

This really shouldn’t come as a great surprise because we see it in the disciples as they observed Jesus.  For the most part, Jesus seemed to make miracles look easy — a word here, a glance there, a touch of the hand, a mix of spit and dust — all easy to see and do by anyone, right?  Well yes, except what they weren’t recognizing was the real power behind all of it was the connection Jesus had with His Father through prayer!  I see this as Jesus comes off the mount of transfiguration and his disciples have been trying to heal a boy by casting out a demon — something they had seen Jesus do with apparent ease prior to this yet it wasn’t working for them.  When the man brings his son to Jesus and the boy is  healed, the disciples seem to be confused.  They ask, “Why couldn’t we do this?”  The response of Jesus is straight to the point — and to the heart — “This kind only comes out with prayer and fasting.” 

Even when we know and have experienced the power of God working through prayer-based ministry and life, why do we have such a tendency to keep trying to do things in our own strength and power?  I think one of the biggest reasons is pride — it is very difficult to take credit for what God accomplishes when we know it has come about through prayer.  We want noticed and we want the credit so we make every effort to do things in our own power and strength until our failures bring us to our knees.  When satan tempts you to lead out of your own strength and wisdom, realize that the way that seems right to the mind of man is the way that leads to death.

I pray that you would think twice about the work that goes into an effective life and ministry.  When you see God accomplishing great things in and through a person, know that there is an incredible unseen prayer-base powering that.  I believe that the most effective thing that you can do in accomplishing the will of God in your life and ministry is to build a mighty foundation of prayer by being a person of prayer and by recruiting those who will consistently join you in prayer.