Grace In An Unlikely Place (3)

“John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us” (Mark 9:38) 

            How many times have you wanted to be part of the “in” group?  You know, the group that just does it better than anyone else, seemingly having it all together.  Maybe you’re in that group.  It can be related to anything; business, school, athletics, etc.  It even occurs within the church.  Jesus’ disciples were a pretty exclusive group.  Disciple means “learner” and to have learned personally from Jesus Christ, the incarnate God is in fact unique.  Scripture also refers to the twelve disciples as apostles, which means “messengers” or “sent ones”.  These men certainly carried great authority in the life of the church.  In fact, in some cases they are presented as men who had some extra spiritual quality about them.  But to understand the Biblical account is to understand that these men were human in every way, susceptible to all the human pitfalls that you and I are.  

             “John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us” On this occasion, the Apostle John’s pride and arrogance was on full display, His words both intolerant and unloving.  This was not the first time pride had won the moment in his life (Matthew 20:20-24; Luke 9:51-56).  It seems pride was an early companion of John’s and all the disciples really, as in many ways, they sought their own glory.  On this particular occasion, upon hearing John’s words recorded in Mark 9:38, Jesus, sensing his pride pointed out that anyone who ministers in His name should be gratefully acknowledged (Mark 9:39). 

             There would be many fitting titles for this devotion but I chose Grace In An Unlikely Place because it’s real easy to read right over this passage and miss the message.  It is God’s graciousness by which He shows us examples of the things we’re capable of.  Without diminishing the privilege of being His disciple, Jesus encouraged John’s support of others who also ministered in His name.  As you and I minister, we cannot think it impossible to develop an elitist attitude toward others who do the same.  John showed us that.  Just because someone ministers apart from us doesn’t lessen its eternal value.  Remember, the glory is not ours.  It belongs to God.  The apostle John obviously aged well.  He was always committed to truth, but over time, his once elitist and narrow-mindedness gave way to God’s gracious work in his life.  Truth and love were now more properly balanced.  Are they with you?  We know John as the apostle of love, but ultimately it was the love of Christ that made all the difference, not just for him, but for each of us as well.  Now that’s what I call grace!    


Lord, as humans, we are so tempted by pride.  Christian ministry is not exempt from that temptation.  Lord, thank you for giving us your Word.  Your words never come to us by accident as there is always an intended purpose.  It is grace when you warn us about the effects of pride, even in Christian ministry.  Often your lessons are so subtle we sometimes miss them.  Keep me sensitive to your Word and the Spirit’s work in my own life that I would be mindful of the damaging effects of spiritual pride.  Help me to properly balance truth and love each day.

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