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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Reward and Punishment

“I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” (Mark 9:41,42, NIV)

The disciples had been upset because a man not in their group had been driving out demons in the name of Jesus.

The first part of Jesus’ response was to tell them that the man’s actions placed him on their side. If he wasn’t against them, then he was for them.

Then Jesus furthered His response by using illustrations of a cup of water and a millstone.

What does a cup of water have to do with their complaint about the man? Simply this. What you sow, you reap. They were sowing inhospitality to others, but Jesus knew they were going to need hospitality from others. If they were going to exclude the man from doing good things in the name of Jesus, then others could be excused for excluding them when they came in the name of Jesus.

We sometimes forget the context for these remarks of Jesus. His followers will need to rely on the hospitality of others as they travel with the good news. Unlike today, where we have hotels and motels and a plethora of restaurants — along with credit cards to pay for them — first-century disciples had to rely on the good will of those who hosted them in their homes.

Thus, Jesus promised a reward to anyone who is kind to His people.

The parallel passage in Matthew 10:40-42 provides the fuller explanation, in which Jesus talks about three rewards for those who are hospitable to His followers. Those who receive a prophet will receive what a prophet can give — that would be a word from God. Those who receive a righteous man will receive what a righteous man can give — influence to walk rightly.

The nature of the reward for providing a cup of water is not described; however, from the total context of Scripture the reward is not related to the after-life. If that were the case, then entrance into heaven would be granted on the basis of hospitality rather than saving faith in Christ.

The cup of water reference occurs immediately following the complaint about the man casting out demons in Jesus’ name. The cup of water is being given “in his name.” By putting these “in his name” comments together in sequence, Jesus was saying, “Don’t make enemies of those predisposed to be with us. You may need their help one day with something as simple as a cup of water. Be gracious so that you can give a gracious reward to those who help you.”

All the time He was speaking, Jesus evidently had been holding a little boy (Mark 9:36). So, He next directed His concern to the influence we have on children.

The disciples’ narrow attitude toward the man casting out demons in Jesus’ name could easily rub off on the child. Adults do influence the young. They are watching us. They’ll parrot our attitudes and our speech. Bigots have a tendency to produce bigots. Saints have a tendency to produce saints. Better that we be destroyed than someone else is destroyed through our bad example.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, may I never create a pitfall for others. Help me to keep pure motives and a pure heart.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

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