"How to Be Great for God"

06/07/2014 12:44

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Date: 6 July, 2014

Text: Matthew 20

Title: Great Service

 

Introduction:

20 ¶  Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

21  And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

22  But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

23  And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

24  And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

 

Within this story there are numerous qualities that our world would consider steps to greatness. I believe that they are included to contrast with what GOD SAYS IS TRULY A GREAT MAN.

 

I believe the statement of our Lord, "but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father" is not written for our discouragment. In other words, we shouldn't say this morning, "God is going to give it to whomsoever He will and therefore I shouldn't aspire to greatness."  JESUS DOES NOT REBUKE THEIR DESIRE BUT HE INSTRUCTS THEIR DESIRE.  I believe any one of us could be one for whom it is prepared of my Father.

 

note: I don't think that the right and left side of Jesus are reserved for 2 individuals.

 

And I do believe that the instruction following our Lord's declaration that it is going to be given to them for whom it is prepared of the Father is to tell us OF THOSE FOR WHOM HE PREPARES IT.

 

We are going to look at two ideas this morning. The first is, "What ALONE does not make us great in God's eyes?" The second is, "What is GREATNESS in God's eyes?"

 

I. What ALONE does not make us great in God's eyes.

NOTE: Any of the following qualities would be looked upon by our world as a step towards greatness. And yet, of themselves they do not make a man great.

            A.  Worship.

20 ¶  Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him,

exp.  I believe this was a Godly woman. She has a true desire to see her children go on for the Lord. She is bringing her children to Jesus. THEY came in sincerity. Their mom wasn't flattering Jesus to get what she wanted. She truly loves the Lord.

ill.  Even our secular post Christian world views religion as a step towards greatness. It is becoming less ADMIRABLE but certainly within a God fearing society, people would say that worship is admirable.

app.  These were sincere "worshippers." They would be in church every Lord's day. They would participate in religious observance. They would speak with sincerity about God. People would perhaps look at their worshp and say, "What a great believer." AND they might be, but WORSHIP ALONE does not make us great in God's eyes.

            B. Desire.

and desiring a certain thing of him.

exp.  This mother deeply wanted to see her sons succeed spiritually. If you asked her what she wanted above all else, it was for her sons to achieve greatness with God.

ill.  Again our world would say that "desire" is a step towards greatness. After all you aim at nothing and you'll hit it.

question:  If I asked this morning, "Do you want to be great for God?  Do you desire to have a special place in God's kingdom?" I would hope everyone who is saved would respond YES THAT IS THE DESIRE OF MY HEART.

app.  And yet, you could sit every week in church and think, "I want to be great for God. I want my kids to be great for God." And that DESIRE ALONE changes nothing with regard to our greatness in God's eyes.

            C. Prayer.

21  And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him,

exp.  She is asking from our Lord. We will call that prayer. She is praying for our Lord to meet this desire.

note: Prayer is great. Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.

quote: "Prayer is to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy."

exp.  You could get up every day and pray, "Oh God make me a great man."

app.  But that PRAYER ALONE will not make you great in God's eyes. She prayed but it wasn't the answer to her desire for greatness.

            D. Heritage.

Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

exp. She is a godly mom and she has godly sons. They have received a great religious heritage that has brought them to the very feet of JESUS. But, it wasn't enough.

app.  You could be a part of a great religious heritage and have access to the best teach and the best preaching. But, THAT HERITAGE ALONE does not make you great in God's sight.

            E. Aspirations.

22  But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask.

exp.  They were aspiring to something that they didn't really understand. They had a desire that wasn't going to be fulfilled in recieving that for which they asked.

ill.  You could read Luke's biography of the Apostle Paul in Acts and say, "Dear God use me in that way. Make me great like Paul."

question:  Do you want to be shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, taken up for dead, put into prison, fed to the lions, put on trial, mocked by the Jews and Gentiles.....

app.  You may have aspirations to greatness but your ideas of where that greatness TAKES YOU may be far different BECAUSE YOU KNOW NOT WHAT YOU ASK. Your aspirations alone may make you QUIT when you are on the path to greatness because it's not what you SIGNED up for.

            F. Sacrifice.

note: But what if you do understand and YOU ARE WILLING to make the sacrifice.

Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

23  And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with:

exp.  The Son's of Zebedee were willing to make great sacrfice for the Lord. We looked at discipleship last week and this qualifies them for discipleship. They don't love their life and are willing to lay down their life for Jesus sake. That is great....or is that ALONE GREAT in God's eyes.

1Co 13:3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

app. You may not be like Ananias and Saphira. You may have sincerely sacrificed unto the Lord. But Great personal sacrifice ALONE is not great in God's eyes.

            G. Privilege.

but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

question:  Have you ever thought with "good" envy about the apostles. After all they got to walk and talk with Jesus. John leaned upon our Lord and was called the disciple whom Jesus loved. Here his men ask him for something that their priviliged relationship with him COULD NOT OBTAIN.

app. Does Jesus love you this morning? Yes, He gave up everything for you. But, his love for you does not allow him to make you great in Heaven. God may have done many merciful and gracious things in your life. But, your place in His kingdom will not be through knowing the Son of God and asking His intervention.

            H. Ambition.

24  And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

question:  Why were they indignant? Because they felt like they were being cut out of that WHICH THEY ALSO WANTED. They were ambition men as well and wanted that place of privilege. THEY WANTED AHEAD OF ONE ANOTHER. Do you want to be more than someone else to Jesus. Are you ambitious to win a close place with our Lord? YOU ARE IN GOOD COMPANY - THE DISCIPLES HAD A DEEP DESIRE FOR THAT PLACE NEXT TO JESUS.

app. And yet AMBITION ALONE will not get you there.

            I. Power.

25  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

26  But it shall not be so among you:

exp.  Certainly our world views AUTHORITY as power. And so we think if we just had a place of authority within a church we would be great in God's eyes. There are people that want that power - they want on committees, they want to make decisions and have people under them. They are ambitious for authority.

app.  But, POWER ALONE, does not make us great in God's eyes.

 

II. What is GREATNESS in God's eyes?

            A. Tune yourself out and tune Jesus in.

25  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

exp. The Holy Spirit shows us that the disciples were confused about greatness. Jesus had to get their attention off of their petty disagreement which was taking them away from what they desired.

ill.  Like two cats arguing over who gets the mouse while the mouse get's away. They were letting their desire go by their desire to get it.

app.  Jesus has to get our attention some times to show us that what we want is obtainable but we have to change directions to obtain it. So did they. They needed to stop hearing their ideas of greatness and listen to the Lord.

            B.  Serve your peers. "...great/chief among you, let him be your...."

exp.  It's not easy to serve peers.

ill.  Try this experiment at school.  Give a pround young man a rubbish bin after lunch and ask him to go collect the other children's rubbish.

app.  Who won't you serve?  There are people in church who won't do that "ministry" because they don't want to serve others they want to serve Jesus.

ill. Jesus parable of King rewarding his servants.  Some of his servants cared for others and gave them food, water, clothing, visited them in prison and in the hospital. They didn't have much time to serve the king because they were too busy serving his people.

Mt 25:40  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Mt 25:45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

app.  Will you be suprised in Heaven to find out that all along those who were serving the lowest were serving the king?

                        1. Volunteer for lowly work.

26  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

question:  When's the last time you did what no one else wanted to do and did it as unto the Lord?

Eph 6:6  Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

app.  Is there any work too humbling for you to do for Jesus? Anyone to smelly for you to put your arm around and encourage to Christ? Any work too hidden from men's eyes to take up for the thanks of God alone?

                        2. Submit to a lowly place.

27  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

exp.  Servants don't get recognized for their work. Their place is one of lowliness.

7  But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?

8  And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?

9  Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.

10  So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

app.  If you are a servant, YOU DON' T EXPECT PRAISE FOR YOUR WORK. IF NO ONE ACKNOWEDGES WHAT YOU HAVE DONE - IT IS NO LESS THAN YOU EXPECTED AND DOES NOT AFFECT YOUR WORK ETHIC.

            C.  Go where you are unknown.

28  Even as the Son of man came

question:  How well was Jesus known in Heaven?  How well on earth? Yes the angels heralded his birth to some shepherds on a hillside. But did the inn keeper know Jesus? Did the neighbors of Jesus understand? Did His brothers understand? Did his parents fully understand?

ill.  William Burns was the preacher who took Robert Murray McCheyne's church in his absence. God was using him for revival in Scotland and then God took him to China. He because great friends with Hudson Taylor and impacted Taylor's life greatly.

app.  Is your ministry less effective because people don't understand WHO YOU ARE?

ill.  Monroe Parker was offered a large church and big salary and at the same time a small unkown church where sin was rampant and money was scarce. They prayed about both and took the small church.

app.  That is like Jesus. Will you go and leave your "well known reputation" behind? Or do people NEED to know WHO YOU ARE?

            D. Take servants quarters instead of the guest room.

not to be ministered unto, but to minister,

question:  Do you come to church to sit or to serve? Did you chose the church because of the opportunities to minister or did you chose it based on what it can give to you?

ill. I don't think Jesus would move to an area with a big church that overflowed with talent/abilities/programs and a small struggling church plan that was seeking to gain ground for Jesus and would go to the big prosperous church. (He definitely would not without being convinced of what God wanted him to do.)

app.  Why are you here? If we have a church that is spectators instead of participants WE HAVE FAILED in doing what Jesus wants us to do.

            E. Pay the bill and let others go free.

and to give his life a ransom for many.

exp: Do we really understand this morning what our salvation cost the Lord?  He could afford it - BUT HE HAD TO GIVE HIS ALL. He paid the bill and let us go free.

ill.  Imagine an invading army capturing all of a good king's servants. The king can not bear to see his servants treated meanly. His son in love for his father volunteers to ransom his servants with his life.

exp. Our Lord's sacrifice emptied Satan's jail. So often we fail to appreciate what Jesus did to give us our liberty.

app.  Are you willing to pay the bill and let other's go free? They may never thank you for your sacrifice. They may even despise your kindness. But, if you would be great in God's eyes, you must pay for their freedom.

 

conclusion:  You may have some qualities in your life that our world would say make you great. But, these things alone do not make you great in God's eyes.

1.) worship)2.) spiritual desire 3.) prayer 4) Heritage 5) Aspirations 6) Sacrifice 7) privilege 8) ambition 9) Authority

 

What makes a man great in God's eyes.

 - tune yourself out and tune Jesus in.

 - serve your peers.

 - Go where you are unknown.

 - Take servants quarters instead of the guest room.

 - Pay the bill and let others go free.