'But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.' And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.' And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'" '
To the audience who heard this parable, the meaning was that the Jews had rejected Jesus’ teaching so He was calling upon the Gentiles to come and receive the promises of God. Today, another layer of meaning has developed - so many people have things they would simply rather do other than serve God.
“I Wish I Could…” is a phrase we use a lot. But we don’t really mean it. The true statement is, “I would like to get there, but without any effort on my part.” To get where you “wish you were,” usually all it takes is the investment of time and effort.
Luke 18:18 - The Rich Young Ruler
This young man is essentially saying, “I wish I could follow you, Jesus.” But he didn’t really want to because Jesus cut straight to the heart of the matter - just sell your possessions, the thing you truly cherish, and then you could follow Me.
The rich young ruler serves as an example to us because we are not so different. There are a number of “I wish I could…” statements that we find ourselves saying today.
“I wish I could… know more about the Bible.” You have a Bible, so all you have to do is pick it up and read it. If you feel as though you can’t understand it on your own, there is a weekly Bible study meeting at the church and lots of other resources, too.
“I wish I could… find more time to pray.” What you’re really saying is, “I know prayer is important, but it’s just not a priority for me.” You have the time if you choose to use it that way.
“I wish I could...be more involved in church ministry/outreach.” What you’re really saying is “I would rather do other things with my time.”
“I wish I could… tithe.” What you’re really saying is, “It’s my money and I’ll spend it how I want to.” The truth is that tithing is a gift (to God, yes) - a gift to us. It teaches us to love God more than our money. Love for Him is so much more rewarding than what we can get from our money.
“I wish I could… have more of the Holy Spirit.” We need the Holy Spirit steering the wheel of our life. In order to be filled with more of the Spirit:
You cannot be filled until you are still. You have to slow down and not be on-the-go all the time! It’s virtually impossible to fill a cup when it’s constantly moving.
Wait. Jesus told the disciples “Wait until you are filled with power from on high.”
Open up; don’t be closed-minded. Take off your self-imposed limitations. It’s impossible to fill a cup that has a lid on it.
Get pointed in the right direction. You have to be moving in the direction of God’s will to find His Spirit. It’s impossible to fill a cup that is turned upside-down.
None of these issues we have will be fixed by “playing church” for an hour a week. It’s going to take the investment of time and effort.