WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE COMPONENT OF MY LIFE?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
13 OCTOBER 1991
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Samuel 20:30-33
Preparation Verse: (Micah 6:8)
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
How do we really see ourselves?
And what do we do to observe ourselves as others see us?
Don't we usually look in a mirror?
Have you ever considered that everything we see in the mirror is actually
And there is something else about the way we look at ourselves in the mirror; for we must step back from our image, if we are going to be able to see more than our eyes.
Though, again, everything we see is the reverse image.
But those around us see us as we really are and, most often, when we cannot see ourselves.
The only way we are ever going to be able to see ourselves as God and the rest of the world truly see us, is to train ourselves to step back from ourselves and our pride, and see ourselves as we really are.
In other words, we have to begin to see ourselves honestly, with our good points as well as with our bad points.
It is only from this vantage point that we can begin to answer the question, "What is the most valuable component of my life?"
Jesus' love went out to a young man who was struggling with seeing himself as he really was.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Mark 10:17-22.
17. And as He [Jesus] was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
It appears that this man was capable of stepping back far enough from Jesus
to recognize Him for who He is, for he knelt down before Him, but perhaps not
with a wide enough vision; thus, Jesus tries to refocus his outlook.
18. And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
He knew that Jesus was from God, but he didn't see Him as God.
Jesus doesn't want this man to see only the Man whom he is focusing upon; He wants him to see the Father, of whom He is the exact representation.
And it is from this vantage point that Jesus turns this man's vision back upon himself.
19. "You know the commandments, 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.' "
20. And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up."
And Jesus, who sees the heart and soul of every one of us, realizes that this man is still not standing back far enough to see as God sees, so He again refocuses his vision.
21. And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
22. But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.
The most valuable component of this man's life was not eternal life with the
Lord Jesus, but his possessions.
He was grieved when he realized this, but he still wasn't willing to give up what he had in hand for something of more value but that required faith to hold.
He could see what he had, but he couldn't see what he could have.
He was unwilling to step out in faith to confirm what he said he believed.
But at the same time there were other followers of Jesus who used there money to help support the ministry without selling everything; what was the difference?
Their possessions were not the most valuable thing in their lives; their possessions were seen as a way of continually funding the mission of Jesus.
Jesus was first in their lives.
There are many people in the world, and yes, even in our churches, who call themselves Christians, but they are not willing to live the life that they say they believe.
What about us?
How would we react?
I pray that each of us is standing back far enough from ourselves to see where our priorities really are, and then, being honest with ourselves concerning what we see.
We also need to remember that seeing ourselves for who we really are, involves a lot more that seeing our possessions; it requires seeing the way we really live, as our preparation verse expresses.
As an example, do we desire to have a leather or fur coat?
We may not want to face the truth, but we know in our heart and soul that we can not have either leather or fur without having another living being suffer and die.
Is such a desire a way of walking humbly with our God?
Does wearing leather or fur express kindness and justice for the animals that have been deprived of the life God give them?
If we have stepped back far enough to see ourselves as we really are, we know that the answer to these questions is, NO!
And the same thing applies to what we put on our plates.
Let's look at another situation.
Jonathan, the son of King Saul, had to make a similar decision in his life.
Let's take a look at this in 1 Samuel 20:30-33.
30. Then Saul's anger burned against Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and the shame of your mother's nakedness?
31."For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die."
Both Saul and Jonathan knew that the Lord had taken the kingdom away from Saul and given it to David; but Saul was intent on trying to circumvent the will of God, and his choice was through murder.
But what about Jonathan?
He was next in line to be king when Saul died, if David was out of the way.
What did he do?
32. But Jonathan answered Saul his father and said to him, "Why should he be put to death? What has he done?"
33. Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him down; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death.
That decision of Jonathan's did not take a lot of brain power to deduce.
If any of our fathers had attempted to really kill one of us, who are of his own flesh and blood, it wouldn't be difficult to conclude that he had very little regard for human life.
In fact, the more any one of us learns to kill, and I mean kill any being, the easier it becomes to consider killing a fellow human being.
What Saul was considering was not like fighting a war and having to kill
someone; the intent of his heart was upon premeditated murder, and Jonathan knew
Jonathan had to make a decision, a hard decision from a worldly point of view.
He knew that God had given the kingdom to David.
He knew that his father was wrong.
He knew that if he sided with David, who wasn't guilty of any crime, over his father's desires, that he would never be king.
But Jonathan knew something else, too.
He knew that all the evil that had come upon his father was from the Lord, because his father had turned away from the Lord.
He knew that no one can successfully fight against God.
His heart was set upon the Lord.
The most valuable component of Jonathan's life was his relationship with the Lord and, by his answer, he showed to all who truly cared to observe, that God was more important to him than family or position.
Let's look at another example.
The sons of Jonadab knew what it meant to have the Lord as the most valuable component of their lives, for from their father they learned the importance of not cluttering themselves with the possessions and positions that have a chance of changing our priorities.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Jeremiah 35:1f, and let's look in on their
reaction to the Lord's test of their priorities and how the Lord uses their
response as an example to others.
1. The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying,
2. "Go to the house of the Rechabites, and speak to them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink."
3. Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, and his brothers, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites,
4. and I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the doorkeeper.
5. Then I set before the men of the house of the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, "Drink wine!"
Everyone knew that Jeremiah was a prophet of God, and that all that he said was the truth from God.
And this Godly man brings a whole family into the temple and offers them wine. Would you drink the wine if you were offered it in such a manner?
Perhaps I should phrase this question in a way thatís a little closer to home.
You know that I don't drink any alcoholic beverages, for I believe that
alcohol deadens our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
Now suppose that today I brought out a pitcher of wine and glasses for all of you, and invited you to drink. Would you?
Let's see how these Rechabite men responded:
6. But they said, "We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, 'You shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever.
7. 'And you shall not build a house, and you shall not sow seed, and you shall not plant a vineyard or own one; but in tents you shall dwell all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.'
8. "And we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, not to drink wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters,
9. nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; and we do not have vineyard or field or seed.
10. "We have only dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and have done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.
11. "But it came about, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, that we said, 'Come and let us go to Jerusalem before the army of the Chaldeans and before the army of the Arameans.' So we have dwelt in Jerusalem."
Jonadab knew that the drinking of wine would dull the sensitivity to the Lord
and His will, and could very easily lead to their sinning against the Lord their
God; thus he commanded them not to drink.
He knew that his family members were hard workers, and that they would be successful in all that they set their hearts and minds to accomplish.
Thus Jonadab commanded them not to have possessions that are of much value and which would lock them to a specific location, as would a house and fields.
He knew that if they lived a humble existence they would not as easily be drawn away from the Lord, as was the rest of their society.
Jonadab wanted the Lord to be the most valuable component of their lives.
Thus, when tested to do otherwise by the Lord and Jeremiah, they refused, recognizing the test for what it was; for they knew in their hearts and minds that God would not ask such a thing of them.
They held fast to what they knew the Lord desired of their lives.
Thus they were also spared from the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, for they had nothing to worry about leaving behind, and they came to dwell in Jerusalem, in homes not their own.
Serving the Lord their God was foremost in their hearts and minds.
Now let's see how the Lord responds to their answer and, at the same time, consider how He would respond to your answers to my questions.
12. Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying,
13. "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, "Will you not receive instruction by listening to My words?" declares the Lord.
Don't you think the Lord would be justified in saying the same thing to the people of our towns and villages?
And not only do I believe that He is justified; I believe He is already saying it, and has been saying it for some time.
But is the Lord also saying the same thing about us, as He did about the sons of Jonadab?
Listen as we continue.
14. "The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are observed. So they do not drink wine to this day, for they have obeyed their father's command. But I have spoken to you again and again; yet you have not listened to Me.
15. "Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again, saying, 'Turn now every man from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to worship them, then you shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers; but you have not inclined your ear to listen to Me.
Now, it's safe to say that the vast majority of the people in this community don't bow down to physical idols to worship them; but there are idols in our community, and in every other community, and most of the people do give them a higher priority than God.
These are the gods of possessions, the gods of organizations, the gods of alcohol and drugs, and the gods of various kinds of lusts.
And these gods occupy a higher priority in most peoples' lives than does the Lord our God.
We know that this is true because we speak publicly about these things, and not about the Lord.
Even we who are here should feel the conviction of these statements in our souls; for at times, we also give into some things and place them before the Lord our God.
The Lord needs to be able to point to us as examples of proper Godly living, as He does with the sons of Jonadab.
16. 'Indeed, the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have observed the command of their father which he commanded them, but this people has not listened to Me.' " '
17. "Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I am bringing on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them; because I spoke to them but they did not listen, and I have called them but they did not answer.' "
What really frightens me is that I am hearing these words spoken more and more against our nation.
Every day we seem to be considering more and more things of more importance than God.
And we serve these things before we consider serving the Lord; when in fact, it should be the other way around.
We, who say we truly believe, and call ourselves Christians, must more than ever before commit ourselves to the Lord.
We must set an even greater example of Godly living than the sons of Jonadab set.
We must help others to be set free of their slavery to sin; and in the process we will strengthen each other.
We must make the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit first in our lives.
Your Comments are welcome
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