Today: Thursday, October 17, 2019

Jesus the borrower    (10/28/2007)

Intel Inside?

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be...” wrote Shakespeare in Hamlet, pointing out that it's a quick way to lose both what you lent ­ and your friend, as well!

It's surprising, then, to find that it's one of the marks of Jesus' life that he kept on borrowing things! It started at the beginning. His mother was away from home, she had no nursery, no cot or cradle for him, so he began his life in a borrowed shed and a borrowed manger.

Obviously Jesus had no control over that, though it shows that he came into a family with few privileges or possessions. But the pattern continued: he borrowed a boat to teach from, a donkey to ride on, a room to share a meal in. And, in the end, he owned no plot of land in which to be buried, but borrowed someone else's tomb.

It was in his teaching, too. In amongst his ‘how to live' sayings, he said: “When someone asks you for something, give it to them; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to them.” (Matthew [NT], chapter 5, verse 42.)

Perhaps he was saying there's another side to borrowing. Maybe it can teach us not to be grasping, but to share. It might teach us not to struggle for everything we think we need for ourselves. It might encourage us to live more as a community; less possessively, more aware of the needs of those around us. And there can be a real feel-good factor in being able to help someone out!

Some years ago, someone who'd just passed his driving test asked me if I would lend him my (brand-new) car for his honeymoon. You can imagine the tussle! What a tough choice—to go with Shakespeare, or with Jesus?

Actually, letting go of the car required real trust and some sacrifice. It wasn't easy. Perhaps the people who lent to Jesus had the same kind of struggle. But there may also be a hint here of how Jesus wants to relate to us now. It's not that he wants to take over our lives, or to own us. It's more that he asks to borrow our lives, our time, our possessions.

Letting go of part of your life, putting it into the hands of Jesus, can certainly feel risky. Putting the whole of your life into his hands could be the biggest decision of all—and the greatest risk you'll ever take.

But those who lent to Jesus never had any cause for regret. The borrowed things, and the lending people, were used and transformed beyond imagining.

For me the car is symbolic. It was precious, vulnerable—and mine! But I managed to lend it, and I'm glad I did. Letting go of my own life, my ambitions, dreams and wants, and putting them into the hands of Jesus, has been a good thing, too, and has changed me. And despite Shakespeare I have lost nothing, but found life and gained a friend.

Pray: God, thank you for your generosity to to all of mankind, and to me. Help me to reflect that selflessness, and to share what I have with those who need it. Show me who they are, give me a generous heart, and remind me that everything I have was a gift from you in the first place. Amen.

Think: Jesus borrowed from all sorts of people, including strangers. Reflect on Jesus' words in Luke (NT) chapter 6, verses 34-36. What he asks is difficult - that's why he says it. How do you think having Jesus in your life could make this easier?

Challenge: Remember a time when you loaned something to someone, which was never returned: perhaps money, a toy, clothing, something precious? Strangely, we tend to remember even the smallest such incidents, even if we claim they don't matter. Allow yourself to let it go; don't retain any bitterness, and forgive the other person. If you find it difficult, pray that God will help you. Sometimes forgiveness is a journey.

Read the book The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

Read the book Jesus – Safe, Tender, Extreme by Adrian Plass

Read the book Jesus: An Intimate Portrait of the Man, His Land, and His People by Leith Anderson

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