Watch Your Heart by Bola Olu-Jordan
In Mk. 6:23, Jesus rebuked Peter saying: “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Here, Jesus called Peter ‘Satan.’ But in another scenario, He prayed for him. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luk 22:31-32).
However, at the moment of similar trial with Judas, also a disciple of Jesus, rather than Jesus to pray for him and rescue him from Satan’s ploy, as He did Peter, He simply encouraged him to do the evil Satan had perfected him to do against his master. “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” (Joh 13:27).
Perhaps, if Jesus had prayed for Judas, too, he might have repented. Why the seeming ‘preferential’ treatment? Is there a partiality somewhere?
The simple reason is just that God looks at the heart, not the deeds (1Sam 16:7). Jesus saw through the hearts of the two of them, not just their deeds or actions.
The truth is that Judas’ heart was perverted. Only God knew how he bungled himself among the disciples. Although, many called him a disciple, but one of his friends, also a disciple, John, said he was actually ‘a thief from the beginning’ (John 12:6). We also call some people ‘pastors’ today, but in heaven, they are known as ‘sinners.’
On the contrary however, Peter’s heart was perfect towards his master. While Judas was busy looking for a way to betray Jesus so that he could collect the huge sum of money, (money was actually the problem, not that he hated Jesus), Peter was determined to die with Him. He even swore with his life do die with Jesus, even though he failed (Mat 26:35; Mar 14:31). Jesus recognized the sincerity.
Judas led Jesus’ arrest, but Peter led His defense. He went as far as cutting off with the sword the ear of one of those who came to arrest his Lord – that is commitment (Mat 26:51).
This is also the similarity between David and Saul. David committed more grievous sins than Saul, but the difference was in the heart. While David fell into sin just like we do fall, he quickly retraced his footsteps and repented, asking for forgiveness (2Sam 12:13; 24:10,14). But Saul, even in his sins, always proffered an excuse. That is why God said David’s heart was perfect before Him, though he was a murderer, adulterer, etc.
Judas went to the high priest, instead of staying with Jesus. He wanted some money that Jesus could not provide for him. The problem started when Jesus said he was not going to restore the kingdom. They all expected Jesus to conquer Rome and Ceasar and then make them commissioners. But Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world and He would neither fight, nor conquer Rome. He stressed further that as a matter of fact, He would be arrested and killed. Judas lost patience. He knew he could no longer achieve his aim. He must chose another path. He decided to go to those who could give him value for his dream.
Jesus would only meet our needs, not our wants. He asked us to pray: “Give us this day, our daily bread,” not our monthly or yearly bread. When we desire more than what we need in the immediate, we are susceptible to many temptations. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” (1Tim 6:9).
The thought of being rich must be replaced with the mind of being content with what God gives us. He’s only maintaining us here. His real plan is to take us to take us out of this world to the kingdom of his father, where there will be sufficiency and surplus of all things. He advised us as long as we are here: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1Tim 6:8). Because “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1Tim 6:6).
God knows our needs of today; our tomorrow is in His hands. He asked us not to worry about tomorrow. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Mat 6:34)
Many today are also consulting the ‘high priests’. The religious leaders who promise to meet their needs rather than to lead them to the man who would not only meet their immediate needs but also their eternal needs - Jesus. They promise prosperity, healing, miracles and breakthroughs and lure victims to this strange gospel. They build personal empires through the gullibility of these victims and fulfill their clandestine ambition.
People won’t stay with Jesus or wait on Him to do these things for them. They always go to the ‘high priests’ who has the short-cut. They are problem solvers who meet the needs of those who are looking for something more than God’s provision in their own time. Such high priests get God’s permissive will for the people at the cost of their membership and prophet’s offering.
If all we are looking for is Jesus, we cannot be entangled with the allure of prosperity. When we go astray, it is an evidence that we are not following Jesus. He does not go astray. Satan is the god of this world and all these things belong to him. God has His own things that He gives at a cost. We must seek Him, not His. (Mat 6:33).
While Judas was busy looking for money, Peter clinged to his master, as Ruth clinged to Naomi. He wanted Jesus, not things. Do we want Jesus or His benefits?
The love of money and material things leads astray. Paul warned: “The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (Tim 6:10). We are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, not love His things – that is covetousness.
Judas realized his sin later, but he was only sorry for it, he did not sorrow for it, so he could not repent. Only Godly sorrow leads to repentance, not being sorry. (2Cor. 7:10).
Just like Satan desired to have both Judas and Peter, he desires to have you, too, that he may sift you like wheat. He is looking for the best time. He knows your weakness. He is right by your heart. Watch out!
It is not only important to know Jesus, it is more important to follow him. Judas knew Him, but did not follow Him. Being born again is not in the talk, it is in the walk. We must expose our hearts to the Lord to discover our secret longings. We will be embarrassed if God showed us our inner self. Only His blood can purge it and make it white as snow.
David asked the Lord to search him and discover if there was any secret sin in his heart. That must be our prayer too. Whosoever hides his sin shall not prosper (Prov. 28:13).
Let us rise up and verbally resist every thought-seed that Satan sows into our hearts through our minds, eyes, ears and mouth which are gateways to our hearts, so that Satan will not sift us as he did Judas. Let not our hearts lust after things, but on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.