Summary: Christian disciples seek to live their lives for an audience of ONE. God’s opinion, God’s approval or disapproval is ultimately all that matters. The applause of heaven is the deciding factor in their life.
MOTIVATION: IT’S THE BOTTOM LINE!
1. A father wrote a letter to apologize to a certain young man for not allowing him to marry his daughter. The letter went as follows:
I have been unable to sleep since I broke off your engagement to my daughter. Will you please
forgive and forget?
I was much too sensitive about your Mohawk haircut, tattoos and pierced nose. I now realize
motorcycles aren’t really that dangerous, and I really should not have reacted that way to the
fact that you have never held a job.
I am also very sure that some other very nice people live under the bridge in the park, too. Sure
my daughter is only 18 and wants to marry you instead of going to Harvard on full scholarship. After all, you can’t learn everything about life from books.
I sometimes forget how backward I can be. I was wrong. I was a fool. I have now come to my senses and you have my full blessing to marry my daughter.
Your future father-in-law.
P.S. Congratulations on winning the Powerball lottery!
• How’s that for a powerful demonstration of sincere motives!?
2. The central theme running through our Scripture passage this morning is that of having a “God-focused” as opposed to a “self-focused” MOTIVATION.
• One of the major distinguishing characteristics of Christian disciples is that they are seeking at all times to live their lives for an audience of ONE. God’s opinion, God’s approval or disapproval is ultimately all that matters.
• The applause of heaven is the deciding factor in their life.
3. Of course, none of us lives our lives entirely devoid of a desire for the approval of others – our family, our peers, our church and social community, and so on.
• That need or drive for approval is built into each one of us from infancy.
• The few months old baby soon discovers that a smile or “goo-goo, ga-ga” sounds get our attention and approval and so is encouraged to give more and is the precursor to speech.
• The youngster yells out “Look Ma! Look Dad!” as he makes his first attempt at keeping his balance on his bicycle or as she takes her first dive into the swimming pool. In balance, this is healthy and can foster increasing independence and confidence in their abilities.
• When our teenagers perform in the school band or play on the sports team, though they don’t easily admit it, their eyes are regularly scanning the crowd to look for the approving Mom and Dad. When our kids receive healthy doses of affirmation, acceptance and approval from their parents, they don’t have to go looking for it in all the unwholesome, unsavory, and ultimately unfulfilling places our world has to offer.
• As adults many of us have refined our requests for approval from others by the rewards of friendliness or support or participation we dispense or withhold depending on the degree of attention we have been given.
4. Now all of us want to be liked and accepted and approved of. That is a basic human need. And expressing our thanks, our appreciation and approval of and for one another is one of the ways we help meet that need in each other and it should be one of the hallmarks of the Church of Jesus Christ.
• It is certainly one of the ways in which we demonstrate our love for one another
• It is clearly one of the ways we show that people are important and that they matter to us
• That we notice them and that we value their presence, their partnership and their ministry
5. However, the problem arises when my own self-esteem and self-worth needs are primarily and supremely dependent on others and not on God.
• When my sense of worth and value and importance is largely dependent on the expressions of thanks, the pats on the back, and the applause of others – believe me, that “approval bank account” gets overdrawn very rapidly. When I am relying for my approval needs on what others have to give me – rather than on God – then I am going to be in a perpetual state of hunger and thirst because the supply out there is very limited and so many others are looking for the same thing.
• And when so many of us are looking to one another to meet our needs when our own supply is low or empty, it’s no wonder that we run into arguments, frustration, resentments, jealousies, pity parties, grumbling and the like.
• Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4: “Whoever drinks from this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks from the water that I give will never thirst again.”