More Than Words

Michael Beck

“And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more. Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more.” (Numbers 22:18,20)

Balaam said all the right things. But underneath his sound speech was an unsound heart. He covered his covetousness with pledges of fidelity to God. How he was and how he wanted to appear were two different things.

The Lord encountered many would-be disciples. They professed their desire to follow Him all the way, but they had not counted the cost. They liked the idea of discipleship, but when the reality of it “hit home,” they turned back. The aspirations of the rich, young ruler had to meet the pointed instruction of Christ for him to realize he was not ready to truly follow the Lord.

We wish to be a certain way, but the Lord knows what is holding us back. Fear can hide under piety. The reasons we give for not going forward with God can sound right and reasonable. We can convince ourselves and others that we are being prudent, but we can’t fool the Lord.

“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

To be the Lord’s true sheep we must hear His voice, and truly follow Him wherever He takes us. His guidance will “smoke out” our deepest fears and idols. If we are to be His disciples indeed we must stop making excuses for our disobedience. “Looking back” is a sign of cowardice. It is retreating to the safe confines of the “bubble” where we can remain pious without letting the Lord do the deeper work in us that would occur through obedience.

The Lord will let many who started with Him go away. Don’t let discipleship be a mere ideal. Let the Lord lead you out of the safe sheepfold and into a glorious new day with Him. His leadership may bring you into the presence of your enemies, but there He will spread a table before you. He may call you into the valley of the shadow of death, but don’t fear – He will be with you.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.