Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

29 Warped Worth – Part 1

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Matthew 23:1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. 5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. 6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. 7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’ 8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. 9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

I want to start today with a poem by Saxon White Kessinger called the Indispensible Man:

Sometime when you’re feeling important;

Sometime when your ego ‘s in bloom;

Sometime when you take it for granted,

You’re the best qualified in the room:

 

Sometime when you feel that your going,

Would leave an unfillable hole,

Just follow these simple instructions,

And see how they humble your soul.

 

Take a bucket and fill it with water,

Put your hand in it up to the wrist,

Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,

Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.

 

You can splash all you wish when you enter,

You may stir up the water galore,

But stop, and you’ll find that in no time,

It looks quite the same as before.

 

The moral of this quaint example,

Is to do just the best that you can,

Be proud of yourself but remember,

There’s no indispensable man.

We all want to think that we have value, that we are needed and that we are indispensable. But the truth is someday someone else will take your place. In my case there will be another pastor counseling people from my chair, and there will be another pastor preaching from the pulpit. Because even though it might be my chair it’s not my church it’s Christ’s. You see if we are not careful we will define ourselves by what we do, and we will use our work to try and gain our worth. But our work is not about gaining worth it’s about giving glory to God. You see someday our work will come to an end and someone else will fill our shoes. While the name of the organization on the sign may stay the same the name of the one in charge will change. The truth is we all have value, we are special and unique but it’s not based on our work it’s based on God’s Word. We are special because Genesis 1:27 says we’ve been made “in the image of God.” Because Psalm 8:5 says We’ve been “made just a little lower than the angels” And have been “crowned with glory and honor.” Not only do we have value based on God’s Words but also His works, you see God thought we were so valuable to Him that He sent His only begotten Son to this earth to die on the cross for our sins. Think about that, the creator of the universe was willing to be crucified on a cross for you. And, once we accepted that truth and respond and receive Jesus as our Savior, God regards us as being so valuable that He places His Spirit inside of us and calls and commissions us to serve in His kingdom, as Ephesians 2:10 says: “… we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” That means that we are special and valuable because God made us valuable. But we need to remember that our worth is not tied to our work it is tied to His Words and His work. It is His ownership of us that gives us value and significance. To help you grasp this truth I want to ask you this question, how much would you pay for a toothbrush? Would you give five dollars, two dollars or 50 cents? Now let me ask you what would you pay for a used toothbrush? Most of you would respond by not only refusing to pay anything but by rejecting the used toothbrush all together. But what if that toothbrush was once owned by Napoleon? How much would you pay then? Well, at auction, somebody paid $21,000 for it. Or how much would you pay for a set of fake pearls? Twenty or thirty dollars? But what if that set of pearls had been owned by Jackie Onassis Kennedy? You see her fake pearls went at auction for a little over $200,000. Or how much would you pay for a piece of sheet music to a song you could play on the piano? In 2003, an original autographed piece of sheet music by Beethoven went for over $1.5 million. You see the toothbrush was used, the pearls were fake and the sheet music was just a piece of paper. They weren’t valuable because of what they were, there was nothing intrinsic to them that gave them worth. They were valuable because of whose they were not because of what they were. God’s Word says the same thing about our worth, we have value because we belong to God and He has made us in His image. The problem is that there are many who don’t understand this truth and as a result they don’t look to God for their worth. They look elsewhere and when they do they end up warping the value God has placed on them instead of being wrapped up in Him. That’s the story of the Pharisees in Matthew 23, instead of finding their value in their relationship with God they tried to find it in their religion. They got wrapped up in performing instead of being wrapped up in a personal relationship. It’s here that we see Jesus confronted the Pharisees, men who were so righteous that, they fasted often, prayed regularly, went to church all the time and tithed religiously so why did Jesus condemn them? Because their righteousness was all about them and not about God. The Pharisees didn’t look at God for their self-worth, they looked at themselves. They used their worship like a mirror, not to reflect God’s glory, but to reflect their own. Worship became about gaining self-worth instead of giving God glory. Back in the 70’s Carly Simon wrote a song entitled “You’re so vain” about a self-absorbed lover who was so caught up in himself that when he went to parties she sang that he “had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself go by.” But he is not alone, how many of us have pretended to preen in front of a mirror so we could look at ourselves? It’s easy to get caught up in our own reflection. In fact it has been said that the reason hotel lobbies are often designed with large mirrors is because people complain less about waiting for slow elevators when they’re preoccupied looking at themselves. We all want to be noticed, we all want to feel important and valuable. But that desire can cause us to become warped Christians, and if we’re not careful, our faith can be deformed by the very traps that tripped up and ensnared the religious and self-righteous Pharisees. Instead of focusing on your reflection focus on your relationship with the Redeemer. Not only does God notice you but He longs to spend time with you and show you that you are special. What are you putting your energy into, performing so that others will see you and say wow or pursuing the Savior and soaking in His words of worth?

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