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THE EXHORTER

“And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” Acts 2:40

The Palmer Road church of Christ, Westland, Mi.

October 30, 2016

Jump Start # 1704

Acts 1:23 "So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias."

I was teaching the opening sections of Acts the other day and came to this passage. This involved the finding of a replacement for Judas. Not only did Judas become bad, he died a bad way. Peter reminded the brethren that this was according to prophecy as well as finding his replacement. Another apostle. He must be a witness of the resurrection of Jesus. Two names were put forward, Joseph and Matthias. The apostles prayed. Lots were cast and Matthias was chosen. He wasn't chosen by luck. He didn't pull the long straw by chance. The prayer that the disciples prayed asked the Lord to choose. God was involved. God got what He wanted.

It is interesting that there were others who had seen the resurrected Jesus. There were others who would make great candidates to be chosen. Why were they both not chosen? God wanted a total of twelve. Twelve is the number of tribes in Israel. Only one would be chosen. It was Matthias.

We don't read about these two after this. One was chosen to be an apostle and the other wasn't. This presents a powerful lesson for us. We often focus upon the winner. The guy who is chosen. What about the guy who wasn't. What about the guy who was cut from the team. The guy who didn't get the scholarship. What about the man who wasn't chosen to be an elder in the church. What about the preacher who was not hired. That is our life story for many of us. For some, within their family, they witnessed this. You may have had a big brother or sister and they were varsity, but you didn't make the team. They were honor roll, and you weren't. They got the great job and you didn't. It's hard to be a Justus, the one who wasn't chosen to be an apostle.

This is enough for some to feel second place the rest of their lives. Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. High school reunions and family reunions can be brutal in this way. It is often nothing more than showoff time. The nice car, the big house, the amazing success. It's hard to be around some when they brag and flaunt their successes.

How do you live being a Justus in life?

First, some of God's greatest servants didn't wear titles or have amazing recognition. Without knowing for sure, I'd expect, just because of the character people saw and was willing to put his name up, that Justus served the Lord in other ways. I wouldn't surprised to learn that he preached the Gospel. I wouldn't be surprised to know that he strengthened congregations and even served as a shepherd of God's people. This is what dedicated people do.

So, you are not chosen to be in the leadership role. You can quit and make a scene, which would shocked everyone, or you can continue to serve in other ways. You can still have people in your home. You can still visit and teach classes. You can still be an encourager. There is an expression that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. You can be one of those 20. You can find where you are useful and needed and get busy.

Second, you don't have to be noticed, praised or given a "shout out" to be noticed by Heaven. Jesus said whoever gives a cup of cold water, would not lose their reward. A cup of water doesn't cost much. It isn't hard to do. Most wouldn't even mention it, yet God saw it and recognized the good that was done. So, you send a card, and few if any know anything about it. You give a gift card to someone. You pay for someone's dinner at a restaurant. You pay for coffee for the guy in the car behind you. You put some money in a card and send it anonymously to a family. Because we never read of Justus again in our New Testaments, does not indicate that he sat on the sidelines of life. We don't read about the other apostles very much in Acts. Aside from Peter, James, John and Paul, most seemed to have dropped off the map. They didn't. They were out traveling the world preaching. Some of the best things being done in the kingdom are by those who very few know. Prestige, honor and making a name doesn't work in the kingdom. It's all about God. God is aware of the things you do, big and little. You don't need to toot your horn. You don't need to tell others. In fact, there are many things that goes on that few know about. That's the way the kingdom works.

Third, I really doubt that Justus trashed Matthias or felt bitter towards him. Matthias was God's chosen. If anything, I would expect Justus to fully support, defend and be there for Matthias. Can you do that if we were talking about elders? Two names are put up before the congregation. Your name is one of them. The other is chosen and you are not. Can you support the new elder? Will you defend him and help him? Or, have the seeds of jealously been planted in your heart? Will your family conduct themselves as they should or will they avoid the new elder and his family? Being chosen is an honor. But being able to carry yourself with dignity and service, when you were not the chosen one, speaks of even greater character.

Fourth, those who are in the shoes of a Matthias, you, too, have a lesson. You were chosen. You made the team. You were picked as the winner. You were made an elder of the church. Your spirit and attitude toward the Justus' can help or hurt things. Don't let things go to your head. Don't think of yourself as better than Justus. Don't ruin a good thing by being selfish, arrogant or forgetting God in all of this. Hurt feelings can be healed quickly when a Matthias and a Justus work together and love each other as God would want us to.

Matthias and Justus-one became an apostle and the other didn't. Some times we are the Matthias. Other times, we stand with Justus. There are lessons to be learned from both sides of this.

Roger Shouse