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Summary: This message is about a father's responsibility to his children first and foremost.

What Really Counts

Father’s Day 2016

Scriptures: Matthew 6:3-4; 16:21-26


The title of my message this morning is “What Really Counts.”

I want to say to all of the fathers present and who might be reading this message, “Happy Father’s Day!” Being a good father is one of the most important assignments that we can have here on this earth because through it God entrusts us with a life other than our own. If I have gotten nothing else correct, I hope to stand before God and hear Him say that I was a good father to my children as my father was to me. But even more important, I want my daughters know how much I have been blessed to be their father as that outweighs everything else I’ve done. And to all of my informal adoptive kids, I am blessed to be one of your fathers also. Although being a father carries a great responsibility, it is not one of the things listed as an achievement of “great” men.

In preparing this message, I went on to Google’s search engine and type in the search request “Great Men of History.” What came up were the 100 most significant figures in history, a list of the top 25 great “self-made” men, great men who changed the world and so on. I clicked on the link for the list of the Top 100 Significant Figures in History to see who made the list. The person holding the number one position was someone we all know well, our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. After Him the list held some names of people that I had read about and knew of and even more names of people that I had never heard of. This list was comprised of individuals who left statistical evidence of their presence behind. All of these individuals were considered great figures of history. I was a little confused though when I saw that Elvis Presley made the list but Dr. Martin Luther King did not. I also looked at the top 25 self-made man list. While I totally disagree with the idea that any man is “self-made” I understand what they were saying. Their definition of a self-made man is anyone who “attains far greater success that his original circumstances would have indicated was possible.” On this list were people who had accomplished what we would consider great things from a financial viewpoint. Some individuals who made this list talked about why they were successful and how they made it – taking full credit for their success. But then, how could they be self-made men if they did not take credit for their success? My point is this, the world has a standard for greatness that does not necessarily match up to what God thinks about greatness.

As I read through what made these men great I did not see one reference to their role as a father (if they had children.) I am not disparaging any of these men because chances are if you asked them, some of them would have stated that being a father was their greatest accomplishment. However, by the world’s standard greatness comes through your accomplishments in the world and the legacy you leave behind when you leave here, not the impact you have on your children. For this reason I want you to think about what’s really important – what really counts in the eyes of our heavenly Father, the best example of a true father.

I. Gain Versus Loss

I want to share a few verses with you from the book of Matthew which hopefully will give you some insight into how God thinks. As Jesus began to prepare His disciples for His impending death, at one point Peter told Him that what He was telling them would never happen – Peter actually rebuked Jesus. Matthew 16:23-26 captures Jesus’ response. It reads, “But He turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's.’ Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” In verse twenty-six, Jesus asks the key question of this text – “what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul or what would a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Jesus wanted His disciples to know what was important. It is not the things that we do on this earth that brings us fame and wealth; it’s the things we do that impact the lives of others for the kingdom of God. What Jesus spoke about was the reasoning behind what we do. If I live my life to gain as much as I can here on earth and I have no relationship with Him, in the end I lose. Why? Naked I entered into this world and naked I will leave. When I was born I brought nothing into this world and when I leave here, regardless of how much money I may have in the bank, I can take none of it with me. It’s only what we do for Christ that will last. If we understand this premise, then it changes how we measure greatest and what actually counts. Now think about what Jesus said about forfeiting our souls and use this same analogy and relate it to forfeiting our children.

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