Summary: Discover the reason why missionaries and other Christian workers go out of their way to follow Jesus Christ.
Introduction: Have you ever had a disagreement with someone over a sandwich? I have! My disagreement was with Judy (my wife). I met Judy when I was in seminary. When we first started dating this disagreement occurred. On this particular afternoon Judy had to work and I was off. She worked as secretary for one of the professors. After class she went to work and I headed to my dorm room. Judy asked me to bring her a sandwich at her office. This would have required my walking about ½ mile (out of my way). For some reason I did not want to do this favor. I either forgot or let something else take priority. Needless to say, I was in hot water over my selfish ways. That story illustrates a major weakness in the human spirit. We do not want to go out of our way. Going out of our way to express love should be a natural response. However, the selfish side of us wants to rebel. The selfish side wants to rule. This is true in our spiritual life as well. It is human nature to be selfish and withold our best from Jesus Christ.
Illustration: A little boy named Tommy illustrates the human spirit. The teacher asked her preschool class, “Now how many of you would like to go to heaven?” All of the kids but Tommy raised their hands. “Tommy,” asked the teacher, “Why don’t you want to go to heaven?” He answered, “I’m sorry, but I can’t. My mother told me to come right home after Sunday School.”
(Contributed to Sermon Central by Greg Yount) Tommy did not want to go out of his way.
With this in mind I want to ask you a question. In your relationship with God have you come to a place where you are willing to go out of your way for Jesus?
In Acts chapters 6 & 8 we find a man who who was willing to go out of his way for Jesus. His name is Philip. I would like to begin by reading one verse of scripture that describes Philip’s attitude and then follow the story of his life in chapters 6 & 8 to learn what motivated Philip to act in such a way. The one verse is Acts 8:5. “Philip went down to the city of Samaria.” Philip lived in Jerusalem. He left Jerusalem and went out of his way to share Jesus Christ in Samaria. That is God’s will for us. He wants us to come to a place of commitment whereby we would go anywhere and do anything for Jesus Christ. Let’s admit up front, this goes against the grain of the human spirit. It goes against our selfish human nature. What is the special thing that moves a person beyond selfishness to obedience? As we walk through chapters 6 and 8 we will find some clues to this amazing transformation.
1. What prepares a person to go out of their way to follow Jesus Christ? The first clue is found in Acts 6:3. “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” (NKJV) Philip was one of those men. Philip, along with the other men, had three desired qualities.
• He had a good reputation among men.
• He was filled with the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Holy Spirit is possible only to the person who has accepted Jesus Christ and surrendered his spirit to Him.
• He had wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to translate you faith into life. I describe it as Biblical common sense.
In order to have a good reputation, be filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom your heart must be right with God. It is essential to understand this principle. If your heart is not right before God, nothing else will matter. The heart is the launching point for service to God.
Illustration: The other day I wanted to down load a file from the internet. Before doing so I had to download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat reader. Until I did this the download was impossible. Even so, a person cannot and will not fulfill the work of Christ unless he/she has the credentials that are necessary. It begins in the heart.
We see an example of this in Acts 8:19-25. We meet a man named Simon. This was not Simon, the disciple. This Simon was a worldly sort of fellow. He thought the Holy Spirit could be bought and sold (vs. 18). Two apostles, Peter and John, struck at the nerve of the man’s problem. “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.” They went to the heart. That is the crucial issue in service and submission to God. It is not religion. It is not moral issues. It is not religious rituals. The heart must be right. Paul said, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10:10)