Prince or pauper

There’s a classic novel by Mark Twain called the Prince and the Pauper. It tells the story of a young prince who swapped places with a poor boy on the street who had an uncanny resemblance to the prince. The swap was supposed to be temporal, but the prince ended up experiencing more than he bargained. However, the story ends with the boys switching back places and the prince’s coronation. While it isn’t an exact parallel, there is something in that story that depicts the Christian experience of many of us. God paid an awful price to make us heirs with Jesus Christ [Romans 8:16-17] – a status that is rightfully ours when we profess faith in Jesus [Ephesians 1:13-14]. Yet, many of us still live like paupers, even though the King of kings has adopted us as His children [Romans 8:14-15].

The reason many of us are paupers is simply that we’ve settled for less. We either don’t truly believe that the Christian experience as taught by Jesus is possible, or we don’t trust that God is capable and willing to keep His promises. This manifests in how we act, not what we say. I once heard a preacher say that faith is simply behaving like God is telling the truth, and to acts otherwise is questioning God’s integrity. The challenge is that acting like God is telling the truth usually involves taking a risk. But if we’re honest with ourselves, many of us will admit that we’re often unwilling to take that risk. Nevertheless, God’s goal is always to transform us from who we are to who He created us to be – from pauper to prince. But, for this to happen, we must choose to make the journey from the streets to the palace.

The journey to the palace is a journey of understanding, attained through the transformation of our minds [Romans 12:1-2]. Acting with understanding, that is, knowing and applying God’s principles with wisdom, compels God’s integrity because He exalts His word and name above all things [Psalm 138:2]. Nevertheless, Jesus knows that we’re incapable of transforming our minds without help. So, He sent the Holy Spirit to help and guide us into all God has for us [Ephesians 1:16-19]. However, this only happens when we surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow God’s word to rebuke, teach, correct and train us in righteousness [2 Timothy 3:16-17]. Those who commit to this process inevitably reign in life as children of God and produce exceptional results.

Having lived as paupers for many years, we’re confronted with a choice when we hear the gospel. The gospel informs us that we’re no longer paupers. Then, it shows us how to get to the palace to receive our inheritance and claim our rightful positions as co-heirs with the King of kings. Understandably, it all sounds too good to be true. So, how will we respond? When someone makes me a promise, instinctively, I ask myself: is this person capable of keeping that promise? Also: can I trust them? I only believe the promise if I can answer yes to both questions. So, is God trustworthy? Has He provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that He’s capable and willing to keep His promises? If your answer is yes, are you acting like it?

God’s original plan, which hasn’t changed, was for mankind to rule over His creation [Genesis 1:26-28]. We were created to reign on earth as royalty. But we lost our dominion when the devil deceived us into doubting God’s integrity and acting like God was lying. Jesus came to win back our dominion and restore us to our royal status. That’s the gospel story, God made us for more, and Jesus came in part to demonstrate what more looks like. But am I ready to do what it takes to transform my mind? To evolve from pauper to prince? Undoubtedly, it’ll be a difficult journey. It’ll require me to unlearn what I know, as I refuse to conform to the ways of the world. And then, become transformed as God’s word renews my mind so that I can discern His will and act on it with understanding in every situation.

I must confess that remaining a pauper seems easier. Often, we’re surrounded by other paupers, which makes us comfortable. It becomes easier to be satisfied with the little we know of God and His principles. We then justify our lack of exceptional results and normalise mediocrity in the Christian walk because that’s our corporate experience. Honestly, I struggle to shake the nagging thought that my current experience isn’t the best God can do, and I’m the one holding Him back. God’s word holds out promises which I’m not experiencing, so He’s either lying or I haven’t engaged His precepts with understanding. I’m convinced it’s the latter for me. Therefore, whether I experience the rest of my life as a prince or a pauper is down to me [Luke 15:17-20].

If you’re not sure whether you’re a prince or princess, or a pauper, ask yourself: “are the signs Jesus said would accompany those who believe in Him evident in my life [see Mark 16:17-18]?” “Am I bearing much fruit [John 15:8]?” Additionally, when you read what Jesus did in His ministry, are you doing the same or greater [see John 14:12]? If the answer to these questions is no, what are you doing about it? Are you satisfied with your life, or are you determined to become all that Jesus intends for you [John 10:10]? There ought to be a tangible advantage in our lives if we’re heirs with Jesus Christ. Our results should be indisputable to the world.

Consequently, I’ve decided to stop justifying my lack of results and start acting like Jesus meant what He said. It’s an uphill struggle, but it will be worth it when I get to the palace [Luke 15:22-24].

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