What’s In It For Me? Red Letters #49

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Matthew 19:27-30 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Let’s take a moment and pay attention to Peter’s words:

Matthew 19:27 ….. Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

To put Peter’s words into modern lingo, he asked, “What’s in it for ME?”. Jesus, we have given up everything to follow You. Now, what are YOU going to do for US?

It is so easy for this mentality to creep into our lives. As a pastor of a small Church I have often had people call or visit, considering whether they wanted to be members here or not. They walk around the facilities, looking at our child care areas. “What’s in it for me?” They come in this building, and look over the song books and pews. “What’s in it for me?” Many times Churches become like businesses, catering to this type of mentality. I hear people say, “We need to build, so we can attract the younger crowd”. There’s a lot of truth in this, but nonetheless, is this pleasing to God? I think we need to build, to grow, to expand our outreach. But we need to tread very lightly lest we begin to cater to the “what’s in it for me” crowd.

We are called “CHRISTians” because CHRIST is supposed to be the center of all we do. I am not to be the center. You are not to be the center. Jesus is to be the center. I have heard people say, “If we do foot washing at this Church, the other Churches will mock us, and the young people won’t want to come”. I have heard people say, “I don’t want to be baptized because I’LL look foolish. Baptism is for children.” And yet, was not our Lord Jesus baptized before He began His earthly ministry? When Jesus presented Himself to John the Baptist, John said, and I paraphrase Matthew 3:13-17:

Jesus came to be baptized by John. John refused at first, saying, Jesus YOU need to baptize ME, not I, You. Jesus said, You must baptize Me NOW, for this fulfills all righteousness. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit of God descended on Him like a dove. The Heavenly Father spoke. THIS is My Beloved Son, In WHOM I am WELL pleased.”

Had Jesus put Himself FIRST, the Spirit would have never descended, and the Father would never have spoken. Jesus never asked “What’s in it for Me?” Jesus just came and did as the Father asked. Jesus taught His people, His Christians, to do as God asked. To put ourselves LAST, not first.

Yet pride lurks in the hearts of every person. We must constantly be on the lookout for the “What’s in it for me?” mentality. In our chapter today we read:

Matthew 19:2 … great multitudes followed Jesus; and He healed them there

God does love us. God sent His Son for us. But Beloved, God can only save us when we make HIM the center of our lives. Life is not about ME, but about JESUS. It is about what GOD has said in His Word. People have always tried to add things and thoughts to the Gospel that God never put there.

When Christianity becomes ME focused, it is not CHRISTianity, but MYSELFianity. A Biblical, saving faith trusts not in me or my wants, but in God and His wants. It is the Kingdom of GOD that I am a part of, not the Kingdom of ME.

Pastor John Stott once said, “Christ is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference.” It is so very true that God loves us, and gave His Son for us. As the Apostle said:

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

God wants us to live victorious, confident, and comfortable lives in Him. But the key is the words “in Him”. God gave us salvation through Christ so that we would be freed from the narcissism of sin. We are no longer possessions of the devil. We are no longer chained to hell by our passions. We belong to God. He loves us, and we love Him.

Narcissism is incompatible with the Christian faith. What did Jesus say the two greatest commandments are? Listen to this conversation:

Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

What is the greatest commandment? Love God with your ALL. God is to have ALL of you. All of your emotions. All of your desires. All. What is the second greatest commandment? Love your neighbor as you love yourself. These two principles are very far from narcissism.

To Get To Heaven, I Need To Be Like A Child

Matthew 19:13-15 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, {Allow the} little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

Who will be in Heaven one day? Will it be the know it alls, or the elite, or the sharp ones? No. It will be those who come to Jesus. It will be those willing to be where Jesus is.

Parents began to bring little children to Jesus, and the disciples tried to prevent this. I don’t believe the children were disrupting services. I don’t believe there was one child in that bunch who “ran the family”. I believe these children were loved, and disciplined by their parents. If you don’t discipline your child, you teach your child narcissism. If your child is the CENTER of your family, you are failing as a parent. The child needs to be taught that the world does NOT revolve around them. Otherwise they grow up to be Antifa anarchists, or BLM radicals destroying private property!

These children were brought to Jesus, and Jesus blessed them. But note what Jesus said:

vs 14 of such is the kingdom of heaven

Heaven will be populated by those who could be LED TO JESUS. Heaven will be filled by those who made CHRIST the center of their lives. Right after this, a man comes to Jesus:

Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Now this looks like a straight forward question. But the King James text does not give the inflection that the original language does. The parallel text of Luke 18:18 tells us that this man is a ruler. He is a person of power. He thinks much of himself. He says, “what GOOD THING shall I DO that I may have eternal life?”. This man believes himself to be self righteous, self sufficient. Jesus tells the man:

Matthew 19:17 … Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God

You can get several great truths out of this when you read it. First of all, the man addressed Jesus not as “Christ”, but “Good MASTER”, ἀγαθός agathos διδάσκαλος didaskalos, literally “Good Teacher”. To this man Jesus was JUST a Teacher. Jesus tells him rather succinctly,

If I’m just a TEACHER to you, then I’m not GOOD.
Only God is GOOD.”

Jesus is THE Christ, the Messiah, God become flesh. What did John say?

1 John 4:1-3 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist

The spirit of antichrist is on this young man. John went on to say:

1 John 4:14-16 the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh (John 1:14)
Jesus Christ is our greatest Treasure (Matthew 13:44)
Jesus Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6)
Jesus Christ has all authority in Heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18-20)
God made all things through Christ (John 1:3)
Jesus Christ holds all things together (Colossians 1:17)

Jesus is the Manifest Member of the Godhead, come to save us from our sins. He is not just “Good Teacher”. If He is just man,m then He is not good.
No one is good, but God!

This man asks “What GOOD thing can I do, that I may have eternal life?” Beloved, if there are none good, but God, then the answer is there is nothing GOOD you can do. You need God. You need Christ. But you are hopelessly and helplessly lost. But Jesus was speaking to a man that I have often encountered in ministry. You know the type. The person who will not listen to you. The person who has made up their mind, and knows that they are right, no matter what is said. The stubborn, prideful person. That’s who this man was. I heard this at the Pastor’s Retreat earlier this month:

You might be a Pastor if you had a dream that while you were speaking, no one was listening. And then you realized it wasn’t a dream.

I’ve been there. Jesus has been there. We’ve all been there. So Jesus continues on. This man is puffed up with pride, and not going to listen. Jesus continues:

Matthew 19:17-19 …. if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Jesus quotes the Law of God, the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth commandments. The man is quick to respond.

Matthew 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Oh, how he puffed up with pride. He was like the Pharisee in the parable Jesus told us:

Luke 18:10-14 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

This young man was on his way to hell. Hell will not be filled with rapists, child molesters, murders, and liars. The bulk of hell will not be populated with Stalins, Hitlers, or Klansmen. Yes, many will be there of that sort, but I believe the bulk of hell will be “good people”, people who felt they didn’t need Jesus Christ to get to Heaven. Hell will be filled with people who refused to bend the knee to the Lord.

This man was proud of himself. “What do I lack, Jesus? I am so GOOD!” Then Jesus hits him with a bombshell:

Matthew 19:21-22 If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

The young man defined himself as the center of the universe. His stuff was all gathered around him, like the vessels of the Temple were gathered around the altar of God. Jesus said:

Sell all that stuff that defines you.
Stop letting YOU be the center of the universe.
Give what you have to those in need.
Come, and follow Me!

The young man went away sad, for he had GREAT POSSESSIONS. He was the center of His universe. Jesus said:

Matthew 19:23-26 Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

You do not have to have a bunch of money in the bank to be “rich”. You are “rich” when you gather to yourself stuff, without regard to others. You are “rich” when you have all you need, and yet want more. I have talked to men with a million dollars in the bank, and asked, “Is there anything I can get you?” They reply, “Another million would be nice”. Greed. Narcissism. Self centeredness.

Back to Peter’s question, “What’s in it for me?” Jesus said:

Matthew 19:28-30 … Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

What you give up for Jesus, you will see in return in glory. But if you focus on being first in this life, you will lose everything. Only God is good. You need the blessing of God in order to get into Heaven.

Right after Jesus says, the first shall be last; and the last shall be first, He explains what this means in a parable. Look in the next chapter. You see, chapter divisions are not in the original text of Scripture. They were added by translators to aid in finding the Word of Life. So look at chapter 20. We read:

Matthew 20:1 … FOR the kingdom of heaven is like …

Do you see the word FOR. It links what Jesus said in chapter 19 to what He now says. Do you want to go to Heaven? Then here is what Heaven is like. Here is what you’ll see in Heaven, and it will be radically different from anything you have ever seen. It will not be like this earth, where everyone puts themselves first. Oh no. That’s not Heaven. If that’s how you are, you won’t like Heaven.

If you are ME CENTERED, you will NEVER like HEAVEN!

Matthew 20:1-2 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

The Lord our God is the Householder, the owner of Heaven’s Vineyards. He went out at 6 am to hire laborers – LABORERS. Do you see that word? LABORERS. There are a lot of people who come and “give their lives” to Jesus, and want to live on the welfare roster of the Church.

If you are saved, you are saved by grace to
WORK for God.

What does the Scripture say?

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

You are called of God to be a worker together with Christ (2 Corinthians 6:1). We are to be mature, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This man went out at 6 am and hired laborers. He promised them a penny a day.

Matthew 20:3-7 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

The Lord our God, the Householder in this parable, hires workers at the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 11th hours. When God calls us to salvation, He has called us to salvation at different stages of our lives. Some are called when very young, others at older ages. God even calls to salvation those who are at the 11th hour, very late in life. The Householder paid whatever He felt was right. Now the end of the day comes. We read:

Matthew 20:8-12 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

The Householder gave each worker, whether they came into His vineyard later or earlier, the same penny a day. The ones who had been there all day began to complain. But we were with You longer. We worked through the heat of the day. Yet YOU made them EQUAL to us!

Preach! Their complaint is that the Householder isn’t FAIR. Beloved, GOD is not FAIR. Thank GOD our GOD is not fair. It isn’t fair that Jesus had to die for your sins and mine. It isn’t fair that He had to bear my hell so I could inherit His Heaven. No, God isn’t fair. Thank God that He isn’t!

The Householder – our God – responds:

Matthew 20:13-16 … Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

God has the right to do with His Heaven as He will. Those called into Heaven at the 11th hour receive the same glory and joy of Heaven as those who received Christ in the morning. So, do you know Jesus? Have you received His call, and hold to Him as both Lord and Savior? If not, today would be a glorious day to meet Him.

Those whom come to Christ will one day be equally paid for what they give up. What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his own soul (Mark 8:36)? The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

Make sure you put Jesus first, or Beloved, you won’t last.

Amen and Amen. May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts with His Word.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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