The Cares of Life
A Wise or Foolish Man
ALL the words of the Savior, and all the things which He taught, have been spoken and given for a purpose. That purpose was, and is, to “preach good tidings unto the meek…to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3. The purpose of the instruction of the Son of God is to bring us healing, deliverance and freedom. He seeks nothing but to guide and direct our feet away from the many traps and snares set by the devil. Christ’s instructions have not been given to withhold freedom from us, but to give freedom—freedom from all the lies and false concepts of life and happiness propagated by that “roaring lion”, the “adversary the devil”, who walks about “seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. What blessings would be reaped if we would but hearken and give ear to the words of our Lord, as He said, “…blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” Luke 11:28.
When the Savior told His disciples that He would be leaving to prepare a place for them in His Father’s kingdom, and that He would return to take them to Himself, He then added, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” John 14:4. At this, the disciple Thomas asked, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” verse 5. Jesus tells him the way to His Father’s kingdom by replying, “I am the way…” Christ is the Way to life everlasting. How important, then, is the instruction He gives! And how much more important it is that we follow that instruction! “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27.
Surely, the Shepherd and Bishop of souls (1 Peter 2:25) knows what instruction our soul needs that, when followed, will make us overcome this world and this life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” John 8:51.
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46
“One Thing is Needful”
“NOW it came to pass, as they went, that he [Jesus] entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, doest thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42. As Christ came to visit that day, Martha was “cumbered” with the business of meal preparation and hospitality. She was filled with concern over the comfort of her guest. But when she later comes to Him, He tells her, “thou art careful [anxious] and troubled about many things”. Such is the result of focusing time and effort on temporal matters and the cares of this life. Indeed, those things with which Martha occupied herself had been temporal cares and tasks. Not only was this the reason for her being “anxious and troubled about many things”, but it also was the cause of her failing to recognize true importance, for instead of spending time with her special visitor, she busied herself with “much serving.”
Many of us, today, make the same mistake as Martha. Truly, we become so wrapped up in, and focused on, temporal matters and cares of life that we, too, fail to recognize that which is of true importance. The cares of life cause us to be needlessly “anxious and troubled about many things”. Remember the words of Christ: there is only one thing “needful”. And what is that one thing? From the story, we learn that Mary had found and chosen it; and that which she had chosen was Christ! She chose to sit at the feet of her Savior and listen to the words He spoke, rather than the cares of life. And because of this, she partook of the special blessing that one receives when listening to, or reading, the words of Christ. In John chapter 6 and verse 63, Christ tells us what that special blessing is. He said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” There is nothing more important, nothing more “needful”, than spending time with the Savior, the One who loved us enough to “pour out his soul unto death” that we might live (Isa. 53:12). Peter admonished the believers of his time thus: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 3:18). Christ, too, declared how vital it is that we have a personal knowledge of Him. “Many will say to me in that day [the day of His 2nd coming], Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22, 23. And when the Lord gave the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins, and speaking of the time that the bridegroom appears, He said, “Afterward came also the other virgins [foolish], saying, Lord, Lord, open to us [the door to the marriage feast]. But he [the bridegroom] answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” Matthew 25:11, 12. It is not possible to “grow in the knowledge” of our Lord and Savior, and have a personal knowledge of Him, if we do not set time aside to spend with Him—on account of being occupied with the tasks and cares of life! We must ever remember the truth: only “one” thing is “needful”!
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6
we have seen, all the words and instruction of Christ have been given
for the purpose of steering His people to the right and true path.
The words spoken to Martha that day are no exception!
The Cause of Unfruitfulness
“AND when much people were gathered together, and were come to him [Jesus] out of every city, he spake by a parable: a sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation [testing] fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience [in due time].” Luke 8:4-15. What may we learn from this parable regarding the cares of life? Our Lord tells us that the cares of life withhold fruit from being brought to perfection. However, this effect is not only restricted to the “cares” of life. The “pleasures of this life” bring the same result. But what “fruit” is not brought to perfection? There are two places which supply us with the answer.
The first is in Mark, chapter 4, verse 19, and it is concerning the same parable and group: “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Here it tells us that the Word of God is not allowed to bring forth fruit in the individual who is involved with the “cares”, “pleasures”, etc. of “this life”. It is true that man does “not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4). But instead of God’s Word bestowing that spiritual nourishment that we so desperately need, it becomes “choked”, and not able to have the effect upon us that God desires it to. The word “choke” in Mark 4:19 means: to strangle completely, i.e. (lit.) to drown, or (fig.) to crowd:—choke, throng (#4846, Strong’s Concordance, Greek section). This is a terrible tragedy!
The second scripture is Matthew 13:23, and is also found in the same parable, speaking in regards to the same group: “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” The life-giving Word is not the only thing that is hindered from bearing any fruit, for the Scriptures reveal that we, ourselves, are hindered from being fruitful! Individuals cannot possibly bear fruit for God while occupying them-selves with, and directing their minds and attentions to, the cares and pleasures of life. Yet, bringing forth fruit is exactly what the Savior desires for us! He said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16. Bringing forth fruit “glorifies” the Father! “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit…” John 15:8. The word “glorified” means: honour, magnify, etc. (#1392, Strong’s Concordance, Greek section). And when Christ spoke in regards to glorifying the Father by the fruit or righteousness that is brought forth within us, He concluded His message by saying “…so shall ye be my disciples.”
“Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Isaiah 43:7
am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me
that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth
fruit, he purgeth [prunes] it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean [pruned] through the word which I have spoken unto
you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of
itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide
in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and
I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can
do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch,
and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire,
and they are burned.” John 15:1-6.
WE have yet to see a connection between the cares of life and the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Gospel of Luke, and it is here that we find a solemn warning, a warning that affords us with perhaps one of the most important views on the cares of life in all of Scripture. Thus, it is most needful for us—since studying the dangers of the cares of life—to equally spend time with this warning. As the reader might have guessed, it is a warning from Christ Himself, the One who leads and guides man into the Way of everlasting life. Here is that warning: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting [gluttony], and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:34-36. Why did Christ warn to take heed against becoming “overcharged” with the “cares of this life”? It is so that the great day of His second advent does not come upon us “unawares”! Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “overcharged” as “overload”. Strong’s Concordance defines it as: (fig.) to burden (#925). It also means: weighty, i.e. (fig.) burdensome, grave:—grievous, heavy (#926). If Christ has warned us against becoming “burdened” and “overloaded” with the cares of life, we must therefore conclude that this is something which can easily occur! The word is “divert”, which means: “1. To turn a (person or thing) aside from a course, etc. 2. To distract” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). This must not happen to the people of God! They must not allow anything to divert them from watching for their Lord’s soon return. Yet, diversion is exactly that which the cares of life will do to them. Anything that would cause us to be unprepared for the “glorious appearing” of the Lord should be speedily forsaken and abandoned. Remember Martha! She failed to discern between what was truly significant, and what was not. God’s children cannot afford to make this same mistake!
Christ says, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:42-44. “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is…Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Mark 13:32, 33, 35-37.
Paul, writing to the brethren at Thessalonica, said this concerning the “day of the Lord”: “For ye yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6.
The adversary of God and man is constantly seeking new ways and new schemes of keeping individuals busy with those things which are unimportant to, if possible, make Christ’s second appearing come upon them “unawares”. Numerous are the wiles of Satan, and of this must we all be aware, for his only goal is to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (Jn. 10:10). Therefore has Christ said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16. But we must have hope and rejoice, for our Lord will empower us to overcome! He will give unto His own what is needed to escape all the traps that are set for them! So then, let us ever seek to heed His instruction, and give ear to the things He says!
are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find
watching…” Luke 12:37
Pleasing the One Who Chose Us
THE writer of Ecclesiastes said, “…that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten…” (Eccl. 2:16). All that is of this life and of this world will one day—very soon—be forgotten! Why should we therefore waste our time with such things? God’s Word manifests to us that we are not to “set” our mind on things which are “on the earth” but rather on those things which are “above”! “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3.
Now in the second epistle of Timothy Paul makes mention of the “affairs of this life”, that which “shall all be forgotten”. He makes this mention while writing about a soldier of Christ, and how that soldier may “please” the Lord. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Chapter 2, verses 3 and 4. This is something—like all the lessons in God’s Word—we must not forget. The disciple and follower of Christ will not be able to please God while being “entangled” with the “affairs of this life”! Anything that is not pleasing to Him who sacrificed all for the salvation of man’s soul should be readily cast away. Is the disciple of Christ not willing to give up all things for the One who gave up everything for him? While he may not be able to do this by his own abilities and strength, the grace of Christ and of God is powerful enough to make perfectly strong him who had only weakness! Paul said to Timothy (a couple verses earlier to the ones we have been reading), “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Chapter 2, verse 1. And this grace we may seek with confidence! “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16.
we await our Savior’s soon return, may the grace of God and
Christ be given us so that, when He does appear, we would be found
at the things which are seen,
but at the things which
are not seen:
for the things which are seen
but the things which are not
seen are eternal”
(2 Cor. 4:18).