3/12/16 Can't Look Back

Friday, March 11, 2016


Luke 9:62

Morning Meditation 3/12/16

This text says: “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

My grandparents reared me from the age of two to twelve. My grandfather was a rural mail carrier. But he was also a farmer and carpenter. I never saw him do a sloppy job on anything in my life. We lived in Damascus, Arkansas on a piece of property that had enough acreage to do some farming. He knew his grandson needed some training in the art of farming so he undertook the job.. We farmed peanuts, corn and cotton. Our garden alone was humongous. In case I spelled that wrong, it was big, big, big. Now I broke ground with the horse I delivered papers on. She was a little mustang mare that could outrun anything in the country if you would take her a half mile from home and run in the direction of home. Those guys always wondered why I wouldn’t race them except when Blackie was running toward home.

Back to the farming. Grand paw let me break ground but he would not let me lay off the rows. He would go down to the other end of the field set up a stake and start the row. He kept his eyes on that stake until he got to the other end. Those were the straightest rows I’ve ever seen. When I ploughed, I looked all around. My attention span was not too long and I felt that I could plough a straight row without going to so much trouble. Well, you guessed it. My rows were like the guy’s who started ploughing toward a haystack that he saw on the other end of the field. When he got to the other end, he discovered that the haystack was on a moving wagon. He had a row that looked like a rainbow! Mine was worse than that.

My grandfather was a student of the Bible and one of the most godly men I have ever known. He got his farming lesson from this verse of Scripture. If you are going to plough a straight row, you must not look back.

The words “No man” means that this is a universal truth. The words “having put his had to the plough” is an aorist active participle from a word that means “to cast upon, to through oneself upon, to dedicate oneself to.” The idea here is no matter how enthusiastically you grab the plough, you will only mess things up if you look back. The words “and looking back” are a present tense and means “to keep on looking back.” It could indicate a habit in this case. The word “fit” (euthetos) means “well placed, to be fit, to be useful.”

This statement of the Lord was made after one had made a quick response (9:57-58), a qualified response of another (9:59-60), and a delayed response (9:61) on the part of another. Jesus laid down an important rule of discipleship: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

What does looking back mean? Well first of all, it means disobedience. God told Lot and his family not to look back. Luke 17:32 says, “Remember Lot's wife.” She was turned to a pillar of salt by the Lord because of the disobedience she expressed in refusing to obey God. She had children in that city. She had friends in that city. Besides, the fireworks has never had an equal. She had a divided heart. I cannot serve God with a divided heart. A “double minded man is unstable in all his ways,” (James 1:8). If we are going to serve the Lord, we must make our minds up that he is more important to us than anything or anyone in the world. Jesus never one time failed to make this point.

There were those in Israel who constantly wanted to go back to Egypt. Psalm 78 is a psalm that rehearses the deliverance of the children if Israel from Egypt. Two verses tell the story of putting one’s hand to the plough and looking back. Psa 78:41: “Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” Here turning back is associated with “tempting God.” and “limiting God.” Psa 78:57 says about Israel: “But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.” Here “unfaithfulness” and “turning aside” are associated with turning back. Had you asked the question of the assembly of Israel: “How many of you are sorry that you left Egypt? You would have definitely gotten some hands. And some would not have raised their hands because they did not want anyone to know the truth that they were not really committed. But when times of trial came they could not contain themselves. Their true colors began to show. They ran their mouths ratchet jaw fashion because they did not like how God and Moses were treating them. At that time someone could have stepped up and said: “Pardon me. Did you know that you are ploughing a crooked row?” And they would reply, “Please mind your own business. It is my row.. I will plough it like I like.” The fact is, the row I am ploughing is not mine. It is the King’s row. For I am ploughing in the “kingdom of God.” It is not my field. I’m not even a share cropper. I am a servant working in his fields.

Paul said in Philippians 3:13-15: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” Paul is a good example of “forgetting those things which are behind.” He had a lot to forget. Now to say he never remembered at all would be incorrect. He often gave testimony to his past and the marvelous change that had taken place in his life. Paul took God’s forgiveness by faith which set him free from the crippling effects of a defiled conscience. Many people never do this. Consequently, they have put their hands to the plough and constantly look back. One who does this is not “fit for the kingdom of God.”

You say, “How do I deal with this?” First of all, you need to understand what you are getting into. You are following one who said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” You must realize that to follow him may lead you into a life of earthly insecurity. Then before you make the decision ask yourself, “Am I willing to pay the price?” Second, you are deciding to follow the one who said, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” You need to consider that following Jesus may put you where you will not even be able to attend your parents funeral. Have you ever read any of the old missionary biographies? You need to ask yourself the question, “Is Jesus and his kingdom important enough to me to pay this kind of price without murmuring?” Then finally, you need to consider that you are following the one who would not let the man return to say a decent farewell to those at home. The Lord is not concerned that you make a charitable break with those who are the closest to you. Where he leads you, you will not have a chance to go back anyhow. It makes no difference how they feel about you. He said, No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” He does not want unsaved family members interfering with his orders to you. To follow Jesus means that he alone has control in your life. It is a part of the cross one bears to have an unsaved father or mother who feels that you have forsaken them in following Jesus..

May God help us to plough without looking back.

In Christ

Earl White

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