Anglican Church of Australia Innisfail/Tully
Diocese of North Queensland


Pentecost 4  2018

Our first lesson this morning is from the first book of Samuel. Samuel has been the great prophet of the Lord. The servant of the Lord who anointed Israel’s first king, Saul. The Lord has become disillusioned with Saul, who has not complied with his instructions fully, and requests that Samuel anoint another king.

There is bad blood between Samuel and Saul in fact, as we have read, Samuel does not see Saul again. Samuel is sent by the Lord to anoint the new king, but Samuel is afraid of Saul. As a cover God sends Samuel to sacrifice to the Lord with the tribe of Benjamin. The Lord will indicate to Samuel the one who he is to anoint.

Samuel goes to the family of Jesse and has each of his sons pass by to discern the Lord’s chosen one. They are all handsome and tall. Samuel soon finds this is more difficult than he expects with the Lord rejecting each one. The features that Samuel seeks are not the standards of the Lord:
 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

I remember very clearly from Sunday School the story of young David out caring for the sheep and being summoned by his father to meet Samuel. The teachers were very keen to impress on us that it was not looks or athleticism that count but that which was on our heart which God preferred.  It didn’t matter whether men and women thought that we were handsome or pretty, these things didn’t count. We must not judge by outward experience. Appearances don’t reveal what people are really like or what their true value is. God judges by faith and character.

God sees clearly what is inside us, he looks for the way we respond to and treat others, remember nothing is hidden from God. Whilst those we meet, and associate with see the external us God knows our motives and our attitude. If we wish to impress God we must turn our hearts and minds to him.

Samuel in anointing David to be Israel’s future king discerns the will and judgement of God. God directly instructs Samuel. From this we learn that it is not our judgement on which we should rely but God’s. We are taught not to judge that is the role of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The reading from Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians this week commences with the final verses of the passage which is used in many funerals – Living by faith. Paul makes it clear to the people of Corinth and to us that we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ to account for all we have done in this life both good and bad. Clarke’s commentary explains it this way:
 For we must all appear before the judgment seat - We labor to walk so as to please him, because we know that we shall have to give a solemn account of ourselves before the judgment seat of Christ; where he, whose religion we profess, will judge us according to its precepts, and according to the light and grace which it affords.

Paul teaches us that as Christ died for all of us. We must no longer live for ourselves but for Christ. Every aspect of our lives should be dedicated to Christ. Paul then draws us back to the lesson of Samuel and David. In that:
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.

We know that God does not judge from outwardly appearances and Paul is calling on us not to regard each other by worldly values; by outward appearance and by the standards of this world. We must regard, not judge, each other by the standards of our Lord Jesus Christ. The standards of this world are not appropriate, Christ has set the bar much higher. This the standard to which we must aspire if we are to share in the kingdom of God.

In the Gospel reading from Mark’s Gospel Jesus sets out to explain to us in parables what the kingdom of God is like. Jesus teaches us the nature of our spiritual growth. Our rate of spiritual growth develops throughout our lives, just like the man who scattered the seed. Our spiritual values both good and bad will develop whether we are asleep or awake. This is a gradual process until it is assessed on the final day when we must face Christ.

Jesus uses the parable of the mustard seed to explain that the kingdom of God will commence from small beginnings, from his disciples, and will grow to be the largest of Churches. A worldwide movement of believers, which will form Christ’s kingdom. Our faith which can grow from the size of a mustard seed to be an integral part of the kingdom. Our role includes planting and harvesting  to ensure the growth of the kingdom. Although each of us have a small part to play each of us will contribute to the final harvest.

In this we probably all underestimate the contribution that we can make to the kingdom of God. We must not judge our own efforts by worldly standards but by the needs of God. We must model ourselves on the ministry and life of Christ and put aside the things of this world. Remember our hearts and minds are always open to God.

Paul describes our creation from the mustard seed as a new creation and that is what we are, children of God created in his image with the potential to be contributing members of the family of God. Just as David was a young shepherd boy who was sought out by God and developed to become patriarch of the kingdom of Israel, you and I can grow from that small speck into members of the family of God supporting each other and being responsible for the growth of the kingdom.

Paul Beasley