USEFUL IN THE KINGDOM
Luke 9:57 62
Not everyone is useful in the kingdom of God. For a life to be useful in the work of the kingdom, it must be
marked by a genuine loyalty and commitment to Jesus Christ. The priorities of the life must reflect such loyalty in
a meaningful way.
The three would be disciples were flawed in their loyalties. They did not have their priorities in proper order. This
prompted the Lord to speak to each of them directly. What He had to say to each one of them sets before us the
kind of loyalty that kingdom service requires. As He addressed the third of the men, he referred to being "fit for
the kingdom". The word "fit" means "well qualified or properly suited". The basic idea in the word here is "useful".
Jesus Christ knew the kind of man it would take to move His program of redemption forward in the earth. He
would not allow these three men to follow Him if they were not willing to have the required kind of loyalty. To take
them on any other terms would do His cause a disservice. In the moment of crisis they could crumble under the
pressure and turn back. It would be doing the men a disservice. It would expose them to demands they were not
ready to face. Our Lord is up front with His demand. They must start with the right kind of loyalty if they are to be
"fit for the kingdom".
Our Lord's response to each of these men gives emphasis to a different aspect of the loyalty required for
usefulness in the kingdom.
I. THE USEFUL IN THE KINGDOM GIVE UNCONDITIONAL LOYALTY
According to another Gospel, the first man was a scribe. He came to Jesus as a volunteer. He affirmed, "Lord, I
will follow you withersoever thou goest." Your first impression is that he said the right thing. But our Lord was able
to look beneath the words into the heart of the man. His reaction is based upon what He saw in the heart of the
A. The Attraction:
The problem seems to be that this man was attracted to Jesus for the wrong reasons. Being a scribe, he must
have marveled at the way Jesus taught. He must have marveled at the sense of authority and understanding that
Jesus conveyed as He taught. The miracles and displays of power were also attractive. Wherever Jesus went,
there was an air of excitement. This is enough to make a scribe want to join the company, and to accompany Him
on journeys. The scribe would want to be a part of such a movement.
Men are still attracted to Jesus for the wrong reasons. It would make an interesting study to just know what
motivated each person in this room to associate themselves with Jesus and His church. If it was anything less
than an unconditional loyalty to Jesus, it is flawed. While your name on the roll gives a number to the church, it
does not give a useable life to the Lord.
B. The Revelation:
To help the scribe evaluate his loyalty to Him, Jesus reveals to him the very nature of the way. "Foxes have
holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." This is quite an insight
into the life of Jesus. Jesus points to the way it is in nature. The foxes that roam the fields have their own hole
into which they can crawl for safety and rest. The birds of the air have their own nest to which they can go for rest
and safety. But the Son of Man does not have a place that He can call home. He is dependent upon others night
by night to provide Him a place to sleep. He can find shelter only when He shares it with others. His commitment
to the will of God has not brought to Him convenience and security. Rather, He has given a greater priority to
doing the will of God than He has to convenience and security.
Do we dare evaluate our loyalty in light of this insight? Did we make our commitment to Christ with certain
unspoken expectations? Did we expect a certain amount of convenience and security to come to us because of
this commitment? This is conditional loyalty. The loyalty that you must have in order to be useful in the kingdom is
We do not know whether the scribe became useful in the kingdom or not. We are not told of his response to the
words of Jesus. We do know that it was up to him. Our Lord will not reduce His demand for unconditional loyalty.
II. THE USEFUL IN THE KINGDOM GIVE UNDIVIDED LOYALTY
Jesus challenged the second man to be a follower. Jesus said to him, "Follow me". The man's response indicated
a willingness to follow, but with a divided loyalty.
A. The Pull Toward Division of Loyalty
The man said to Jesus, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." All of us have a natural inclination toward
our father and mother. It is not certain whether the man's father has just died, and he was asking for permission
to give his father a proper burial, or whether the father was still alive, and he wanted permission to stay at home
until he was free from the responsibility for his father. I am inclined to think that the father was still alive. The son
had been taught that it was his responsibility to take care of his father as long as he lived. We know that even
Jesus insisted upon that responsibility in another context. However, the key word is the word "first". The man was
dividing his loyalty. He was actually inclined to put his loyalty to Jesus in a secondary position. He was giving
priority to the natural rather than the spiritual.
All of us who have attempted to follow Jesus have felt this natural pull. We have been tempted to give a divided
loyalty to Jesus because of this.
B. The Priority Demanded:
Jesus responded to the man very firmly. "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of
God". In the first instance, Jesus is referring to the spiritually dead, but in the second, He is referring to the
physically dead. What He said to the man was simply, "There are members of the family who have not responded
to Me in any way. They will take care of your responsibility to your father. There is no one who can assume your
responsibility in the kingdom. I want from your undivided loyalty.''
We will come to a great passage in a few weeks in which our Lord spelled out this demand. He made it clear that
if we are to follow Him, we must "hate'' father and mother, brother and sister, and family members. We must give
to Him undivided loyalty. He will not share the first place in your life with anyone or anything. He will not ever
share it with the beloved members of your family. This is the only kind of life that is useful in the kingdom.
III. THE USEFUL IN THE KINGDOM GIVE UNDISTRACTED LOYALTY
Evidently, the third man was a volunteer. He was attracted to the ministry of Jesus and presented himself to be a
follower of Jesus. He said, "Lord, I will follow you; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my
A. The Distraction:
Evidently it was not a sense of responsibility that made the man want to delay, but rather a desire to have a little
pleasure with friends and family before he left. Again it was a very natural thing. It indicates that the man saw in
Jesus an important person, but not one who deserved undistracted loyalty from his life. He would be His follower
but still give a certain amount of attention to the pleasures of the world.
This can still be a problem. We are ready to follow Jesus, but we are not ready to give our full attention to it. We
will work in a relationship with Jesus into the pattern of life that we have already established.
B. The Dedication:
Jesus responded to the man with a proverb. "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit
for the kingdom of God." There may be two ideas here. If you have ever plowed, especially using animals, you
know that a man can not plow a straight furrow and look back. He must give his attention to what he is doing and
his eye upon his destination. He must be totally dedicated to plowing.
Dr. Ray Summers suggests yet another idea. He indicates that it refers to the distraction that can come during
the plowing season. The farmer who allows himself to be distracted from his task will lose a crop. If someone is
able to allure him away on a fishing trip, or into a golf game, when he should be plowing, he will not last long as a
farmer. He must be dedicated to farming. He must be giving an undistracted loyalty to his calling.
The same is true in the kingdom. The only lives that are useful to the kingdom are those who give undistracted,
loyalty to the Lord . They give Him priority over pleasure, affections, ambitions, and personal desires. He is first in
This gives us a clue as to why the work of the Lord is suffering in our day. It is suffering because of a lack of
useable lives. The Lord has a lot of followers, but they have divided loyalties, they have made conditional
commitments, and they are too easily distracted. The Lord deserves better. He deserves and demands from us
the first priority and loyalty of life. Will you give it to Him? It will make you "fit for the kingdom".