Guest Posts

Guest Post: I’d Rather Be with You: An Open Letter to My Children

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

 

I’d Rather Be with You:
An Open Letter to My Children

by Courtney Feulner

In a world where children are seen not as a blessing, but an inconvenience, I want you to know:
I’d rather be with you, my darlings.

While others are getting their eight hours of blissful slumber, and I wake for the third time with tired groans (and bags under my eyes), secretly,
I’d rather be with you.

When you greet me before the first morning light with sleepy eyes and wobbly steps, and other moms are off to their morning work-outs, I know this time is fleeting, so
I’d rather be with you.

While other kids your age are carted off from one activity to another, I know your time will come, but for now,
I’d rather be with you.

While other couples are trekking across the globe and taking adventurous trips, just the two of them, I look out and see you playing without a care in the world, and I smile because I know my time will come, and if given the choice,
I’d rather be with you.

When my name is on the invitation, and yours are not,
I’d rather be with you, my loves.

While career-woman chases financial freedom and grasps for the next rung, I consider her little ones who foot the bill. Money can’t buy what I have, so
I’d rather be with you, my sweet babies.

When you throw tantrums, big and stubborn like your personality, I laugh and cry because you’re cute and naughty, but I remember that this is all shaping who you are and who you will become. Even on the days when my wherewithal has been through it all, still,
I’d rather be with you.

When you make messes that I’ve cleaned up a million times already, and oh the piles of laundry, I recall how empty and vain it was before, and my heart knows that
I’d rather be with you.

When you come running with your ceramic mugs shouting, “Tea! Tea!” as I just sit down to enjoy my only-hot-for-so-long coffee,
I’d rather have it lukewarm and be with you.

When your eyes grow wide with excitement over a big story, and I try to hide my laughter and take you seriously (but I can’t because you’re too funny!), yes,
I’d rather be with you.

You see, the transient things, they come and they go, but you are a priceless gift! Without you I wouldn’t know the true satisfaction, the lasting blessing, the deep joy that comes from dying to self and living for others. You help me to see the gospel more clearly.

When I look into your wonder-filled eyes, when I truly take the time, and realize how much older you look than yesterday, oh my, how
I’d much rather be with you!

So, my little sweethearts, when the world doesn’t welcome you, this one thing I need you to know:
I’d always rather be with you.


Courtney is a homeschooling, stay-at-home-mama of two children. She received her degree in Elementary Education from Moody Bible Institute where she met her husband, Greg, and discovered her passion for teaching children. Together they are pursuing adoption.

Family, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Stay at Home Dads?

 

What is the Biblical view of men fulfilling women’s roles? I.e. staying home and managing the household, caring for small children, etc. while the woman works outside the home to provide for the family?

Super question! It’s not a cut-and-dried easy answer, though. There are a lot of things to take into consideration.

The first thing we need to consider is, of course, what the Bible says about this issue. And when we look at what the Bible says about human behavior, we need to look at two things: the heart and the actions. The Bible does forbid and command a lot of actions, but God is also clear that He judges the heart. It is possible to do the right thing with the wrong motives and the wrong thing with the right motives. We want to make sure we have right motives that lead us to do the right thing.

And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. 1 Samuel 15:22-23a

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b

The first question we need to ask ourselves is, “Is there an explicit command that the husband must leave the house and go to work every day to financially support the family, a command that he absolutely cannot stay at home and manage the household and raise the children, or a command that a wife may not work outside the home or support her family financially?”

I have not found any specific, in context, “thou shalt/thou shalt not” commands along those lines. And there’s a reason for that. God beautifully designed the Bible to be applicable and relevant to all people, across all cultures, in all time periods. So there are some universal commands in the Bible that apply to everybody, everywhere, in every time. For example: It is a sin to murder whether you’re young or old, male or female, smart or dumb, ugly or pretty, rich or poor, living in the Middle East or Polynesia or Antarctica, in 3271 B.C., A.D. 0, or A.D. 2019. Murder is always a sin, no matter what.

But God has not chosen to make that same pronouncement about the financial support of the family and who should work inside or outside the home. If we examine all of the Scriptures that mention men and women working, we can see a general overall pattern that points to the wisdom, in most cases, of wives doing most of the household management and child-rearing, leaving husbands free to concentrate primarily on bringing home the bacon, but God has not chosen to make this a universal command.

(I’m sure many readers are thinking, “But what about Titus 2:5, saying women are to be ‘workers at home’?” First, this is not a command that women are never to work outside the home (keep reading for more Scripture about women working and contributing to the support of their families). Second, if you’ll examine that verse in context (2:2-10), you’ll notice that this passage deals with people’s character, not careers. This can be easier to see if you compare Titus 2:3-5 with 1 Timothy 5:3-16, especially v.6, 13-14. Women are not to be lazy, idlers, and busybodies, they are to be hard workers, glorifying God in their work. In first century culture, this nearly always meant marrying, raising children, and managing their households, because this was virtually the only culturally appropriate venue available to them in which to work. Titus 2:5 is primarily about working hard to the glory of God, not primarily about where that work is performed. Does this mean all Christian women are free to abandon their children and homes in favor of working outside the home just because they feel like it? Of course not. As we’re about to see, that goes back to having a godly motive, going with the grain of the way God generally created women if at all possible, and discerning what is pleasing to the Lord in the circumstances in which He has placed your family. Which is exactly the type of character Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 5 teach that Christian women are to have.)

Why did God not make this a command? Because in His sovereignty, over time, God has allowed or created different types of cultures to develop at the macro level, and different sorts of circumstances to occur in the lives of various individuals at the micro level.

In our culture, with regard to supporting a family, it is typical for a husband to get up Monday through Friday, leave the house, work for someone else for eight hours, receive a paycheck, and return home.

Although that was true for some families, particularly city-dwellers, during Bible times, it was far less the norm than it is today. Think about the types of work most often mentioned in the Bible. It was a much more agrarian society. Dads usually worked their land and livestock as an extension of their home, and moms and any children who were old enough had their chores around the “farm” as well. The whole family worked together to provide necessary sustenance, and dads had much more direct oversight over their children on a day to day basis than a 21st century dad who leaves home and goes to the office every day.

But even in situations in which there was a family business (such as Joseph being a carpenter) the sons usually grew up learning the business under the direct tutelage of their fathers. And though the daughters were being trained at home to learn how to be good wives, it is reasonable to assume that they and their mothers helped out with the business as needed in a culturally appropriate way.¹ There was much more integration of work and family in that culture, giving fathers more contact with their children during the day.

There are also passages in the Bible that help us to see that bringing in income was not strictly relegated to men and child-rearing was not strictly relegated to women. In Proverbs 31, we see a wife and mother conducting business and contributing to the support of her family. We see Deborah “working outside the home”. We find that Lydia was, in some way, a merchant. And we do not see the Bible condemning these women as ungodly for contributing to the support of their families or performing some kind of work outside the home. Quite the opposite, in fact – the “Proverbs 31 woman” is, to this day, held up as the ideal wife and mother for godly women to emulate.

Furthermore, we often see passages in Scripture that lay the ultimate responsibility for instructing, disciplining, and properly bringing up children at Dad’s feet, not Mom’s. Read the first nine chapters of Proverbs. This is a father, not a mother, training up his son. And take a look at Ephesians 6:4 (Fathers…bring [your children] up) and Colossians 3:21 (Fathers, do not provoke your children…).

So there is no explicit biblical command about only husbands supporting the family financially and only wives managing the household and raising the children. We need to make sure we separate out what is biblical and what is cultural when it comes to the roles of husbands and wives.

As I mentioned, in addition to God sovereignly creating/allowing different cultures on the macro level, He has also created/allowed, on the micro level, varying life situations for various families. Dads who are disabled or have medical conditions that are more conducive to staying home with the children than having a job outside the home. Men who have had very limited educational and job opportunities who fall in love with and marry women already established in lucrative careers. And, especially in these modern times, Dads who are able to work from home while caring for the children. These and other scenarios can be contributing factors when it comes to which spouse works outside the home (If, indeed, working outside the home as someone else’s employee is necessary for either spouse; working from home or starting your own home-based business is an option many families overlook).

So there are a lot of external, and sometimes unavoidable, cultural and personal circumstances at play in each family’s decision-making process. But what about the internal factors at play? This brings us back to the motive of the heart.

What is the husband’s motive for wanting to stay home with the children? Is it because he’s lazy (lemme just take a moment to say this: if you’re lazy, raising children and managing a household isn’t the job for you) and just wants to shirk responsibility? Because he’s so arrogant or headstrong that he refuses to submit to a boss’s authority? Because he wants to live in luxury on his wife’s salary rather than cutting expenses and living more modestly on what he is able to earn so she can stay at home?

What is the wife’s motive for wanting to work outside the home while her husband manages the household and raises the children? Is she a feminist out to make a statement or further an agenda? Does she pridefully feel that the day to day job of wife and mom is beneath her? Is she finding her identity in her position, her income, or the praise of men instead of finding her identity in Christ?

These are wrong reasons for doing what might, financially, actually be the right thing. But as I said, as Christians, we need to make sure we have right motives leading us to do the right thing. And what is the right motive in this, or any other, decision-making process?

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8b-9

Husbands and wives each need to repent of any wrong motives they may have harbored in their hearts, walk in Christ as children of light, sit down together, pray for God to give them wisdom, examine all the factors at play in their situation, and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord in the situation He has sovereignly placed them in.

For most families in our culture, what this typically ends up looking like is that the husband is the main breadwinner and the wife is the main manager of the household and children. And part of the reason for this is that God has generally wired men to desire to go out and conquer the world, and He has generally wired women to desire to keep the home fires burning. So if there aren’t any circumstances that force a couple to go against that grain, it’s usually wisest for Dad to be the primary financial supporter of the family and Mom to be the primary manager of the family. But there are going to be godly exceptions to the rule, and we need to be sure we’re not assuming people are in sin just because they don’t fit what’s usually the norm.


¹Certainly there were other types of work/employment in Bible times, I’m just using these primary two to demonstrate my point.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Parenting

Do You Trust God with Your Kids?: 8 Ways to Parent Your Children Like God “Parents” You

The world can be a scary place if you have kids. There’s the danger of online predators luring kids into meeting them in person. Kids can take inappropriate pictures of themselves or their peers only to have those pictures spread around on the web. Porn sites abound. Drugs and alcohol seem to be easy for kids to come by. There are kidnappers and sex traffickers and child molesters lurking where you least expect them, even in the church. And, society would have us believe, every teenager is having sex.

It’s a blessing from God that there are so many ways to protect our kids. There are all kinds of software locks and blocks and filters you can put on your electronics in order to keep your kids safer when it comes to technology. There are phone apps that allow you to track your child’s location, and do it yourself drug testing kits, and breathalyzer attachments you can put on your car to keep your child from driving drunk. And then there are the more “analog” precautions of keeping the family computer in a common room, scrolling through your child’s phone log every day and asking about each call or text, banning sleepovers, and never letting her spend time alone with friends.

Certainly, we should use wisdom about the activities we let our kids take part in. Maybe some of those locks, blocks, and filters, or restrictions on places she can go and people she can see would be a wise idea for your family, especially if your child has proved herself untrustworthy with the freedom you’ve already given her.

But, increasingly, as I hear Christian parents in a near frenzy about installing multiple security measures on their electronics or the car and making all kinds of restrictions on activities with friends – not to clamp down on a rebellious child, but to prevent children from getting into trouble who have never showed any signs of rebellion – I have to wonder, what’s the foundational mindset here?

Are we putting these safety measures in place because we’ve prayed about it and  believe it’s reasonable, godly wisdom, or are we putting these safety measures in place out of the fear of evil, or because we trust devices and restrictions more than we trust God and our kids? For the Christian, it’s not that it’s wrong or bad to take precautions – indeed, God doesn’t want us to be careless or foolish – it’s the motivation for the precautions we take that we need to examine.

Do we really trust God with our kids, or are we taking matters into our own hands out of fear?

Trusting God can be scary. We can’t see Him, hear Him, or touch Him, and He never promised us a life free from difficult or painful circumstances. It’s much easier and more comforting to our flesh to trust something tangible. Something that guarantees us it’ll do what we want it to do. It reminds me of an event that took place toward the end of King Asa’s life in 2 Chronicles 16.

Asa was one of the good kings of Judah. He “did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment.” (2 Chronicles 14:2-4) But one day, Baasha, king of Israel, came up against Judah. Did Asa cry out to the Lord, trusting Him to help, as he had years before when the Ethiopian army came out against him? No. Asa’s response was to gather up a truckload of silver and gold from the palace and the temple and bribe the king of Syria to break his covenant with Israel and attack them. Instead of fully trusting in the Lord and seeking His help and guidance, Asa took matters into his own hands and attempted to protect Judah with his own strength.

We love our children. We don’t want to see them hurt or fall into sin. We want to do whatever we can to protect them. Those are all good and godly desires of the heart. But we must make sure we are seeking and trusting God and His ways first instead of acting upon our fears and relying on our own strength.

What are God’s ways? How does He “Father” us? How can we imitate our Heavenly Father as we parent?

1. God makes clear that He is the Father and we are the children.
Throughout Scripture, God is crystal clear that He is the one in charge. He made us, He sets the rules, He provides for us, He protects and cares for us, He knows what’s best for us. Because of all this, He instructs us, our responsibility is to be obedient children.

Do you and your children understand that you are the parent? That you are in charge and that they are to obey? That you make the rules and they are to follow them? Are the roles of parent and child clearly defined in your home with a godly authority structure in place?

2. God spells out what He expects from us.
The Bible is chock full of explicit commands. Sometimes God tells us what to do. Sometimes He tells us what not to do. Often, He explains why He is telling us to do or not do a certain thing. We can always rest assured that all of His commands are for our own good, the good of others, and the glory of God, and that they flow out of His great love for us. But God never accepts excuses for disobedience. He expects us to obey.

Have you thoughtfully and prayerfully developed rules for the online and offline activities your child participates in? Have you sat her down and lovingly explained the rules to her, answering any questions she might have? Does she have a clear understanding of what the rules are and how to obey them? Does she grasp your expectation that she will obey the rules without excuses?

3. God warns us of the consequences and dangers of disobedience and the blessings of obedience.
God doesn’t hide the unpleasant truth from us that the wages of sin is death. In fact, He gives us enough of a description of that eternal death to help us understand that we don’t want to go there. He explains that He disciplines those He loves in order to keep them away from sin and harm. But God also reminds us of the blessings of obedience – that it will help us flourish, grow in joy, and bring glory to God.

Have you warned your child of the consequences for disobeying your rules about her activities? Do you carefully and consistently enforce those consequences? Have you explained to her that the reason there are disciplinary consequences for her disobedience is to protect her from danger and sin? It’s neither necessary nor appropriate to go into all of the specific, terrifying details of child trafficking or the disgusting elements of pornography, but our children must have an age-appropriate understanding of the very real dangers that are out there.

And it’s just as important to explain the blessings of obedience to your child: she won’t have to live in fear or in shame, she’ll be protecting her purity for marriage, her health, or her life, her parents will trust her, and she’ll be acting in a way that’s pleasing to God. Maybe you’ll even be more inclined to give her extra privileges.

4. God doesn’t give the consequences before the sin.
Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:29-30 with regard to lust:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus doesn’t tell us to gouge out an eye or cut off a hand as a precaution to prevent lust that has not taken place. He tells us to respond to sin with an appropriate consequence.

Is there any way you might be “maiming” your child to prevent her from committing sin – especially sin she’s never shown an interest in or temptation to? Maybe it’s time to reconsider that rule or restriction? Conversely, do you have a child who struggles with a particular sin? She may need your love and your help mortifying that sin by “gouging out the eye” of the internet or “cutting off the hand” of that destructive friendship.

5. God wants our obedience to be motivated by our love for Him.
God doesn’t want us to obey Him because we have an unbiblical view of Him as a mean old ogre and we’re terrified of Him. He also doesn’t want us to obey Him in order to get something from Him, to impress others, or just to go through the motions. God wants us to want to obey Him because we love Him.

Have you fostered an environment of sacrificial love for your children in your home? Do you lay down what you want or how you feel to do what’s best for them? Do you invest time in them, pouring the gospel into them, teaching them God’s Word, and demonstrating that we obey Christ because we love Him? Do you take time to talk and play with your children? Do you tell them you’re proud of them? Discipline them and say no when necessary? Are you generous with hugs, “I love you’s”, and encouragement? Do you encourage them to develop their talents and skills? Having parents who love their children in a godly way doesn’t guarantee obedience, but it does encourage it.

6. God doesn’t micromanage every move we make.
At least not the way humans sometimes micromanage. Have you ever noticed that there are no commands in the Bible like, “Thou shalt wear blue socks every Tuesday,” or “Thou shalt not stay up past 11:38 p.m.”? Regulating every little thing we do isn’t God’s way. He loves us and cares for us, He tells us what He expects from us and the consequences of obeying and disobeying Him, and then He gives us space within those parameters to make decisions that are aligned with His will as revealed in His Word. As long as we’re not violating any of His principles or commands and we’re exercising godly wisdom, it’s fine with Him if we want to wear red socks on Tuesday or stay up until midnight.

Our children need space to make decisions within the confines of the rules we’ve set up, especially children who haven’t given us any reason not to exercise reasonable trust in them. Nitpicking, checking, regulating, and hovering over every little move your child makes is smothering and frustrating to her. It says, “I don’t trust you to do what’s right without constant monitoring from me.”

7. God allows us to fail.
I once read the biography of a girl who went blind. She enrolled in a life skills class at a school for the blind to learn how to navigate the world. During orientation, her counselor showed her around the common room of the dorm she was staying in. The counselor took her hand, placed it on the protruding mantel of the fireplace and said, “This is a sharp corner. You’ll need to watch out for it.” The girl gasped, “That’s dangerous! Why don’t you put some padding on it?”. The counselor replied, “You need to learn to be careful and aware of your surroundings. Nobody’s going to pad the sharp corners of the world for you.”

God doesn’t pad the sharp corners of the world for us, either. He doesn’t put us in a protective little bubble where we’ll never be hurt or fail or sin. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness in His Word and allows us to obey or disobey Him. Even when we fail, give in to temptation, and sin.

Consider that your child needs to learn the skill of facing and resisting temptation on her own. Give her enough age appropriate, situation appropriate freedom to do that – and to fail at it and repent – in the spiritual safety of your home. One day you won’t be there to put a lock on the computer. God will hold her responsible for her own sin. Will your child have developed the spiritual strength to say no to temptation when there’s nobody to stop her?

8. God is always there.
He’s not a “helicopter parent,” but He’s always there to listen to us, help us, nurture us, and be our Wonderful Counselor and Everlasting Father.

If you are a parent, job one is not your career, it’s parenting. Generally speaking (yes, there are sometimes exceptions and exigent circumstances), that means, Mom, your primary vocation is to raise your own children. Don’t just assume you have to work outside the home. Pray fervently for God to make a way for you to raise your children. Be creative and look for ways to get out of the workforce and get home. Slash every possible expense. Move. Eat at home. Home school instead of private school. Sell a vehicle. Bargain hunt. Find a way to earn money from home. Make the effort. Your children don’t just need any random person to raise them, they need you.

 

Are we imitating our Heavenly Father in the way we parent? Do we cry out to Him for wisdom in the rules and restrictions we set for our children, trusting Him to help us and to protect our children? Or do we live in fear of what might happen, worrying and trying to protect our children in our own strength?

As much as we’d like to sometimes, we can’t build walls around our children to protect them from every sin or from anything bad ever happening to them. That is not how God deals with us. He loves, cares, and provides for us. He disciplines us appropriately when we need it. He clearly spells out what He expects from us. He warns us of the dangers and consequences of disobedience and teaches us the blessings of obedience. It’s then up to us to decide whether we love Him enough to obey Him, or if we’d rather go our own way.

Do we parent our children like God “parents” us?

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ May 1, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

I’ve recommended Verity Fellowship in the past as a doctrinally sound resource for Christian women. In this article, VF’s Katherine Roberts recommends a great resource for women who want to learn how to study and teach the Bible better without going to seminary: The Simeon Trust.

 

Crossway recently published a fascinating article, 10 Crucial Archaeological Discoveries Related to the Bible as part of the promotion for their new ESV Archaeology Study Bible.

 

 

 

Justin Peters and Costi Hinn have recorded several helpful YouTube videos in a series called Truth & Transformation refuting the false teaching coming out of the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation movements. I’ve been told more videos are on the way, and there’s talk of a podcast!

 

Looking for a fun family trip this summer? Check out the Answers in Genesis Equipping Families to Stand Conference. It will be held at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, July 16-20. Your registration fee for the conference includes a seven day pass to both the Creation Museum and the nearby Ark Encounter.

 

I really appreciated Clint Archer’s article Bleep! Why Christians Shouldn’t Cuss over at The Cripplegate. I have no idea why anyone who’s a Christian would think profanity is acceptable to God, but, for folks who do, Clint will quickly, deftly, and biblically disabuse them of that mindset.

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 14

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Mark 10:1-31

And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. What does verse 1 say it was Jesus’ “custom” (notice also the words “and again”) to do? Considering this verse and all we’ve studied in the previous nine chapters, which aspect of His ministry do you think Jesus considered spiritually weightier, His teaching or His miracles? Which was more temporal and which was more eternal? What are the implications of this for the church today? Should our focus be on the teaching of Scripture, which has an eternal impact, or on miracles, signs, and wonders, which (if they’re even real and biblical) only have a temporal impact?

2. What was the purpose of the Pharisees’ questions? (2) Where does Jesus point them for the answer? (3) Think back over what we’ve learned about Jesus’ authority. He not only had the authority, as God, to definitively answer the Pharisees’ questions, but He was regarded by many of the people as a rabbi (or teacher), and rabbis’ teachings were authoritative. Why do you think Jesus – who had the authority (“you have heard it said…but I say to you…”) to answer the Pharisees’ questions directly – pointed them to Scripture instead? Can you think of more situations in which Jesus pointed others to Scripture to answer them? If Jesus – God Himself – pointed people back to Scripture what does this tell us about the place and authority Scripture should hold in our own lives?

3. Examine Deuteronomy 24:1-4, what “Moses commanded” (3), and compare it with verses 4-12. Does the content and tone of the Deuteronomy passage agree with what Jesus says in these verses? How would you summarize God’s view of marriage? (5-9) What does Jesus teach about divorce in verse 11? Who is guilty of adultery in a divorce and subsequent remarriage- the spouse initiating the divorce, or the spouse who didn’t initiate the divorce? Compare Mark 10:1-11 to these passages. What are the two biblically allowable circumstances for divorce and remarriage? Is divorce required by Scripture in these situations?

4. Why do you think the disciples rebuked people for bringing their children to Jesus to bless them? (13) Which attribute(s) of God does Jesus showcase in verses 13-16? Take a look at these Greek, Roman, and other Gentile attitudes and practices toward children circa the time of Jesus. As a first century Gentile, what would this passage have said to you about God’s love and care for children? How should this passage inform us today about abortion as well as the need to nurture our children and raise them in a godly way?

5. Examine Jesus’ teaching about marriage in 5-9 and His words and actions about children in 13-16. If you were to formulate a theology of family from these verses, what would it say?

6. Compare verses 14-15 with Mark 9:35-37. How can one “receive the kingdom of God like a child”? (15) What does it mean to have a “childlike faith”? Is there a difference between having a childlike faith and having a childish faith?

7. Fill in the blanks from verse 17: “…what must __ ___ to inherit eternal life?”. Does the gospel require us to do (perform, behave) something in order to be saved? In verse 18, is Jesus denying His deity? When Jesus says, “No one is good except God alone,” (18) He is implying to the rich young ruler that by calling Him good, he is also calling Him _____. Considering the remainder of his interaction with Jesus (19-25), was the rich young ruler ready to concede that Jesus was God?

8. Take a look back at the Ten Commandments. The first table of the Law (Commandments 1-4) deals with the (vertical) relationship between people and Whom? The second table of the Law (Commandments 5-10) deals with the (horizontal) relationship between people and whom? Examine verse 19. Which table of the Law do all of these commands come from? So if what the rich young ruler says in verse 20 is true, with whom is he in a right relationship by keeping all these commands? Examine verses 21-25 and compare the man’s love of his riches (and refusal to give them up to follow Jesus) to the first table of the Law. Which Commandment(s) is he breaking? This demonstrates he is not in right relationship with Whom? What do verses 23-25 teach about the idolatry of wealth versus following Jesus?

9. Some people use verse 21 to teach that anyone who ministers to the poor is in right standing with God (i.e. saved, going to Heaven), regardless of whether or not they’ve repented and placed their faith in Christ. Examining this verse in the context of this passage and in the context of the biblical gospel, is that truly what this verse is teaching? Is verse 21 a command for all Christians to follow (a prescriptive verse) or is it simply a description of something Jesus said to this particular person to elicit a particular response (a descriptive verse)?

10. Consider verses 26-27 in their immediate context – the power of idolatry to keep people from Christ. Have you ever prayed for the salvation of someone you felt was a hopeless case, that it would be pretty much impossible for her to get saved? How does this passage offer hope about those “hard cases”? Compare with John 6:44.

11. Examine verses 28-31. Sometimes people take verses 29-30 to mean that if you follow Jesus you’ll get more houses, lands, loved ones, and wealth. Think about Peter (28), the rest of the disciples, and Paul- what they left behind to follow Jesus and to be founders of the New Testament church. Think about the hardships and martyrdom they faced. What does this passage mean in light of their suffering? Could this passage be pointing to God providing for our needs and the love and comfort of church family rather than the promise of temporal wealth?


Homework

Mark 10:1,17 again mention Jesus’ travels. Find a good Bible map of Israel during Jesus’ lifetime (there’s probably one in the back of your Bible or Google “Bible maps”), go back over Mark 1-10, and trace Jesus’ travels on the map. You might even want to print out a map you can write on and mark the various places He visited and routes He took.


Suggested Memory Verse

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45