V


Disciples and Servants

You cannot allow two masters to rule your life. Either you will disregard one and love the other; or else cling to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and remain enslaved to the gods of this world.

Which one of you, planning to build a tower, would not first carefully estimate the cost, making sure there was enough money to complete the construction? Otherwise, having laid the foundation, you may be forced to abandon the work. Those looking on would laugh and say: "You began to build, but now you are ruined."

A king who plans to wage war must first consult his military advisors to determine whether his army of ten thousand is capable of defeating the enemy's force of thirty thousand. If his advisors can find no hope of victory, he must send forth his ambassadors to meet the enemy and negotiate peace before the battle begins.

Consider that which you possess in this life: family, money, and earthly possessions. Unless you are willing to make a total commitment, even of what you cherish, you cannot truly follow me.

The person who is diligent in small things will also be trusted with much; and the person who is dishonest with little will also be dishonest with a great deal. If you cannot be trusted with earthly riches, how shall you be trusted with spiritual treasures? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to others, how shall you be trusted with riches of your own?

I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wise as serpents, but as harmless as doves.

You have seen how the earthly rulers exercise their authority, inconsiderate of the poor. This is not how it is to those in the kingdom of God . Whoever would be great among you must first become your servant. And whoever of you would be the greatest, must first be servant of all. Even so, I have come, not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.

If you know these things, happy are you when you do them. Continue in the light of my word. Only then are you truly my disciples.

Do not imitate the falsely pious, inventing laws and ordinances. They venerate their rules and fail to fully observe even one of them. They heap burdens on the necks of their followers without attempting to live by the same rules. They go to great lengths to be seen, dressing in extravagant clothing and behaving with great ceremony. They love to sit at the head tables or on the front row, and to be called esteemed or learned teacher. Refuse to be called esteemed or master; for you have only one master, and you are all his brothers and sisters.

Refrain from calling men your spiritual father; for you have only one Father who dwells in heaven. Neither allow anyone to call you learned teacher; for there is only one true teacher, Christ. The person who would be greatest among you must first become your servant; and all who humble themselves shall be exalted.

When the Messiah returns in his glory and all the holy angels are with him, he will sit upon the throne of his heavenly glory. Before him will be gathered all nations and he will separate them, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. The sheep he will set on his right hand, and the goats on his left.

Then the King of Heaven will say to those on his right: "Come, blessed by my Father; enter into the inheritance of the kingdom, prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you offered me food. I was thirsty, and you brought me cold water to drink. I was without home, and you invited me in. I was without clothes, and you clothed me. I was ill, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me."

Then the righteous will answer in amazement: "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we shelter or clothe you? Did we ever care for you when you were ill, or visit you in prison?"

The King will reply: "Truly, inasmuch as you have done such things for the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done the same for me."

To the ones on his left, the King will say: "Depart from me! For I was hungry, and you gave me no food. I was thirsty, and you offered me nothing to drink. I was without home, and you turned me away. I was naked, and you gave me no clothes. I was sick, yet you didn't care for me. I was in prison, but you didn't visit me."

These will protest: "Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or homeless, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and fail to comfort you?"

The King will answer: "Truly I say to you, inasmuch as you have failed to do these things for the least of my brothers and sisters, you have failed to do them for me."

Those on the left will be sent away into eternal darkness, but the righteous will be ushered into the kingdom of life.

You call me master and teacher . If I, then, am willing to be your most humble servant, should not you be willing to serve one another as well? I have lived my life as an example before you. Imitate me, and do the same to others as I have done for you.



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