This Week's Gospel Sermons
October - December 2011 Fall Series At Jackson Drive.
"MIRACLES OF JESUS"
Wednesday Nights @ 7PM
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October 16, 2011
Five Levels Of Commitment
I have five commitmentsand they ought to be in the proper order of priority. The first I imagine you can easily guess …
God — Loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength must always be my foremost commitment (Mark 12:28-30). Having no other god before Him is still pre-eminent … before all else. Seeking His kingdom and righteousness is to be my top priority; my chief concern (Matthew 6:33).
Self — Though it may surprise you, I think I must save myself before I can do much for anyone else. Paul teaches this principle in 1Cor. 9:24-27. This may sound selfish, but it is not. Effective preaching to others is compromised when the preacher does not preach to himself (Romans 2:1-3; 21-24). Seeking to help a brother remove a speck from his eye, while having a beam in your own is hypocritical and condemned! I am to love my neighbor as MYSELF (Mark 12:31). I am to love my wife as MYSELF (Ephesians 5:28). I have to have a strong singular commitment to self, second only to God, before I can sacrifice my interests for the promotion of others.
Family — Who was the most successful preacher ever? Answer: Noah … for he saved his family. Some may think church members should come before family. I beg to differ. True, family cannot come before God (Jesus taught so — Matthew 10:37) but Paul said when a man marries his focus has to change (1Cor. 7:32-35). A wife and children must become a concern equal to SELF in serving the Lord. Many preachers sacrifice their children’s spiritual welfare on the altar of serving the churches; but, that is a mistake. They may mean well, but church work is not somehow the Lord’s work and home responsibilities secular matters. Jesus condemned the “Corban” tradition; demoting family responsibility through dedicating it to the temple. A child was not permitted release from honor of parents through some other devotion to God.
Brethren — Galatians 6:10 places commitment to brethren ahead of the world, therefore if a choice is forced upon me, a fellow Christian will always get the nod. But, it not only shows priority, but teaches I am obligated to do good to my brethren in encouraging them, admonishing them, greeting them, serving them, loving them, etc. And no amount of earthly concerns must be allowed to equal or replace it. It is easy to allow worldly matters (even good ones) somehow excuse service to God, self, family or brethren. This must not be allowed to happen. Jesus taught that ground in which the seed of the kingdom is sown and in which thorns are allowed to grow up too, will lead to trouble. Thorns are riches, cares, etc. Jesus also taught that some invited into the kingdom who begin to make excuse such as newly married, land or oxen to prove or check out, a father to bury, etc. are not fit for the kingdom.
World — Galatians 6:10 does state I have a commitment to the world. Paul regarded himself as a debtor to all men — Romans 1:14. My commitment to the world can be summed up in one word — LOVE. I am also shown by Paul the extent this commitment takes me. I become all things to all men that I by all means might hopefully save some (1Cor. 9:19-22).
Remember your commitments and their priority order.
It Is A Small Thing That I Am Judged By You
We read the following from 1Corinthians 4:3-4, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.”
Gleaned from both of his New Testament epistles to the Corinthians, we see that Paul often had to defend his apostleship, explain his motives in not having come to them sooner, argue his right to forego marriage and/or to be paid for his services, challenge the accusation that he behaved differently in person than his writings reflected, and all this to his brethren! So, what else is new? The very same kind of thing continues till this day.
But notice that Paul said that it really didn’t bother him much what brethren thought of him, even if some actually judged him one way or another. And for that matter, he didn’t even spend much time concerned with how he judged himself. He knew that there was nothing he had against himself (i.e. he lived in all good conscience) but in the end, it was only God’s approval he had to have, for that was all that mattered. To that I heartily say, “Amen!”
Paul cared how others viewed him. In 2Corinthians 13:6-9, he expresses his desire that they not view him negatively, but then goes on to say how that having their approval at all costs was simply not possible. Mainly he wanted them to behave honorably and if in so doing he continued to be seen as weak, then so be it. Paul, as always, fully sacrificing himself for others. Longing for other’s salvation, even at the expense of his own diminished self-image.
I, too, am concerned about my reputation among brethren and it bothers me greatly when I know someone disapproves of me or some decision I have made, but I have to seek to imitate Paul, even as he was imitating Christ. Paul considered it a small thing to him that others criticized him, passed judgment on his integrity or upbraided him for decisions he made differently than they would have made. But that was also the same with our Lord. He was called names like “winebibber” and “friend of sinners” because of who he associated with, was criticized sometimes for his decisions (i.e. healing on the sabbath...why not just wait until the next day and no one would have a problem?) and accused of having lost his mind for getting so wrapped up in the things of God that He did not eat. But as the saying goes, “it all was like water off a duck’s back.” I am sure that Jesus was concerned as to what others thought of him (“Who do men say that I am?” He asked on one occasion) but ultimately it mattered very little, it seems.
So whether it be the Greatest Example, Jesus or His noble follower, Paul, I have two great role models along these lines. They both say that in the final analysis, what I most need to be concerned about is not what the world thinks of me, nor my brethren, and not even myself, but what the Lord thinks. As Paul says in a certain place, “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.” And in another place, “Study to show yourself approved unto God.” And so I shall.