If you keep a Spiritual trophy case somewhere in your soul, Jesus would like a word. I know, because he’s in the process of clearing mine out. We so quickly make an idol out of our past Spiritual “wins” and work hard to fill the case with more. But Jesus calls us to faithfulness, not success.
One day, a woman approached Jesus with a compliment. She says, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” (Luke 11.27) Now, this doesn’t sound like a compliment to us, but believe me, in Jesus’ culture, this was the way to do it.
Jesus’ response tells us what He is about. He says, “Blessed rather are the people who are hearing (present) the word of God and are keeping (present) it!” (Luke 11.28, my translation) See, the woman connected “being blessed” with Jesus’ past. But Jesus deflects. Being blessed is not about our past wins. It is found in a daily, continuing faith. The kind that hears and keeps God’s word on the daily. What does this mean?
It means first that today’s faith can’t run on the fumes of our good old days, on our past. Some of us spend our day living in yesterday’s word and wins, like the woman. Jesus says today is where blessing can be found. Today is where we get to hear and live out the commands of God in the community of God by the grace of God. (Psalm 68:19, Hebrews 3:13) Let this fact give your day purpose.
Second it means faith doesn’t try to control what’s next. Why? When we focus on outcomes, we become calculated or measured. Change is hard and the status quo has a lot of fans. So we say, “be reasonable.” Yet calculated faith can’t please God. It is lacking in risk, obsessed with comfort, and avoids cost. Instead, we can be all in, leaving the outcomes to Jesus. Hearing and keeping God’s word on the daily doesn’t limit our future impact, it expands it. We may dream of bold faith that does great things, yet bold faith is just daily faith built over time with Jesus. There’s no ladder to climb. Just every day walking with our Rabbi. This feeds courage since the pressure is off.
To illustrate, take this excerpt from Edmund Morris’ biography, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. The following is an interaction with some reporters who asked TR if he was positioning himself for the American Presidency:
“Never, never, you must never either of you remind a man at work on a political job that he may be President. It almost always kills him politically. He loses his nerve; he can’t do his work; he gives up the very traits that are making him a possibility. I, for instance, I am going to do great things here [at the NYPD], hard things that require all the courage, ability, work that I am capable of…But if I get to thinking of what it might lead to–“
He stopped, held us off, and looked into our faces with his face screwed up into a knot, as with lowered voice he said slowly: “…But I won’t let myself think of it; I must not, because if I do, I will begin to work for it, I’ll be careful, calculating, cautious in word and act, and so I’ll beat myself, see?”
When we take our focus off of daily intimacy with Jesus, we “lose our nerve”. We become apathetic, thinking our best days are behind us. We turn to calculations and become willing to compromise if the future is all on us. It’s not. (Philippians 1:6)
Instead, the words of Jesus bring us rest and courage: “Blessed rather are those who are hearing the word of God and keeping it.” An invitation to intimacy. An invitation to community in the Church, those who hear and keep the Word. Free from our past, free for our future. The opportunity of everyday.
Outcomes are God’s. So we can live boldly and faithfully, knowing that God will vindicate the faithful in the last day. After all, He vindicated Jesus. Who says elsewhere, “Fear not little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
So, whether we are stuck in the past, or trying to control tomorrow, there is rest and peace to be found in humbly walking the way of Jesus one day at a time. “Blessed” says Jesus “are those who are hearing the word of God and keeping it”. This is why today, and every day matters.