If you look closely, those answers are more suited for the question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” All of us do it; we associate what we are with what we do. If we are in a group setting and asked to say something about ourselves, we invariably will start with our name, then immediately tell everyone what we do.
Who we are – or in the case of 10-year-olds, who we are going to be – is a far cry from an occupation. Two people can do the same the action, but what they are can be as far apart as east is to west.
Jesus was in the Temple when people were donating their offerings (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4) when a poor widow came and gave two mites while many of the rich put in bunches of money. Two mites would be less than pocket change to the wealthy in the Temple that day, but Jesus explained the two mites is all the money the widow had. In fact, He said it was “all her living,” meaning it was all the money she had to buy her food and pay her bills. The well-to-do gave “of their abundance.” Their contributions were money that was extra, unneeded by them.
Offerings in the Temple were placed in a box as everyone departed. The widow would have seen the rich with their offerings; she would have heard the clanging of the coins as they fell into the box. She could have thought to herself, “Look at all that money. My two mites will not make a bit of difference; after all, I will need my two mites to live on; I do not need to give anything.”
Both the wealthy and the widow did the same thing, however, the widow had a heart that thought of others before thinking of herself. Some of the wealthy gave because of show, some because of duty, but even with the exuberant amounts, none gave because they were generous. The widow and the rich had the same “do,” but they were completely different in the “be” department. In every profession, there are people who are considerate of others, generous, kind, selfless, and there are others who are greedy, hateful and selfish. What we do does not make us who we are. It is the intentions behind our actions that describe who we are.
Peter, smack dab in the middle of describing the end of the world, while telling us about the elements melting with fervent heat, asks the question, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:9-12). How important to God it must be who we are, our character, our heart, our “be,” if He will ask us about it in the middle of describing the end of the earth?
Since God asked, “what manner of persons ought ye to be?” I thought I would see what God says we should be. I typed “be ye” into a Bible app, and about who we are; our character; this is what I found.
• “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
• “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
• “Neither be ye called masters” (Matthew 23:10). We should not think of ourselves higher than others.
• “Be ye also ready” (Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40).
• “Be ye not troubled” (Mark 13:7).
• “Be ye therefore merciful” (Luke 6:36).
• “Be ye sure” (Luke 10:11). We are to know and be aware of God’s presence and working in our lives.
• “Neither be ye of doubtful mind” (Luke 12:29).
Listed above are the eight found in the gospels. All of them are quotes from Jesus Christ. There are about twenty more given to us by the Apostles throughout the remainder of the New Testament. I was not going to look at the Old Testament, but I could not resist – there are roughly forty times in the Old Testament where God tells us to “be ye.”
You can acquire a better knowledge of whom you by studying the Bible; the Scripture says of itself, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). As the Word of God reveals your heart to you, thank God for what is right and ask Him to fix what is wrong. If, for example, your soul is not as benevolent as the widow’s, ask God to give you a more giving heart. He will change you from what you are into, as Peter said, the person you ought to be.
I will end by asking the question again, not to ten-year-olds, but to you. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Preacher Tim Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sermons and archived Preacher’s Points may be found at preacherspoint.wordpress.com.