Adonai has blessed me and Esther with three amazing, young disciples—our sons Isaac, Josiah and Hosea. Like all human beings, our boys regularly have to contend with their flesh (their parents have to contend with it regularly as well!), but they are nevertheless remarkable, admirable children, and their desire to please their Abba and Imma and serve Adonai with their lives is self-evident. Yet despite the positive affirmations of others and our most objective assessment of their progress, as parents, we still wonder from time to time (like, every day!) if we’re getting through… if we’re teaching them the right way… if they’re going to be okay.
Isaac, my eldest, was an only child for his first five years, enjoying life as the sole beneficiary of his parents’ attention and accolades. When Josiah came along, Isaac quickly found himself thrust into the role of “big brother,” and life began to instruct him in the ways of sharing, responsibility, and how to be quick and eager to serve. Over the years, we discerned that his acts of excellent, diligent service (doing his chores, helping his brothers) were sometimes born out of sheer obligation and obedience. In fact, he often felt resentful and inconvenienced by the service he was required to perform—he felt entitled to be lazy, independent, and selfish.
One recent evening, as dinnertime was coming to a close, I emptied my drinking glass, and—still thirsty—asked aloud, “Would someone please get me some more water?” Without hesitation, Isaac dutifully rose from his seat, and, reaching for my glass, made the offhand remark, “I’m always Someone…” indicating how often he is the one to respond to the family’s generic requests for assistance. But what I initially assumed to be an instance of clever, humorous observation, quickly became one of the most profound moments of my life, when he added thoughtfully, “…but really, I’m Nobody.”
…that’s when I knew we had gotten through.
Isaac understood exactly what he was saying, and the gravity of his own confession, “I’m always Someone, but really, I’m Nobody.” He understood that for the one who is Messiah’s, his life must be that of total self-denial: refusing to self-assign value or worth (beyond that which we intrinsically have in Yeshua); subjecting our will to the hand of the One who now owns us; dying to ourselves, and rejecting any inherent or instilled sense of entitlement.
Just like a young boy who naturally feels he is owed the right to cater solely to his own desires and interests, don’t we as disciples of Messiah regularly—and wrongly—feel entitled to a life of comfort, prosperity, and ease? Don’t we feel that our faith in Yeshua entitles us to a happy, carefree life—one in which we pray for whatever our hearts desire, and then expect Yeshua to obediently provide it for us? We have bought into the lifestyle lie that claims we deserve everything we want because we are in Messiah—when, in reality, what we signed on for was poverty: an impoverished existence void of self.
“For let this attitude be in you that is also in Messiah Yeshua, who… made Himself nothing…” (Phil.2:5-7) As children of God, we don’t have to wonder if our Father is teaching us the right way. As His sons and daughters, we will most certainly be okay, as long as we hear and apply what He’s trying to get through. Our Master, Yeshua, blazed a narrow trail for us to follow—a path of selflessness and total sacrifice. The question is, are we willing to be the Someones who eagerly put the needs of others above our own, entitled only to be the Nobodies who completely lose themselves for the Master?
What do you think? How have you made yourself a “Someone” and failed to be the “Nobody” Yeshua wants you to be? What do you need to do to change both your attitude and your actions? Post a comment below.
This “Word from Kevin” was previously published in Messianic Jewish Issues.