This is the third in the series of what it means to be a mature witness. In the first message we talked about it being necessary for a mature witness to have an understanding of the basics of the Scriptures. In the second message we talked about the mature witness being willing to suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ. In today’s message, I conclude with this thought: Jesus Christ must have first priority in the life of the mature witness.
As we go back to the opening chapters of the Scriptures dealing with creation, we read that Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. He was created in the image of God, different from any other part of the creation, for he had a mind with which he could think, a will with which he could make a decision, and a soul that was immortal. Then God put Adam and Eve in the garden and told them to take care of it. Evidence is such that they took care of their bodies. However, they gave little thought to their souls, for when Satan came along and tempted them to eat of the tree of knowledge, they transgressed the laws of God, and sin entered the world. A battle has been going on since that time over the authority of man’s soul.
As a society, we try to take good care of our bodies. Critics will say we are too fat, smoke too much, overdo our drinking, or burn the candle at both ends. Those things are not good for the body. But do we take as much interest in taking care of our souls? I talk to some people who give little thought to their soul and what happens to it after death. One fellow joked, “If I can’t take everything I have with me, I’m not going to go!” Another man jokes that when he dies, he wants his wife to buy the nicest Cadillac so she can then bury him sitting at the steering wheel. He thought it was a great joke.
Be that as it may, people do not like to face the fact that their soul will live on in eternity. Therefore, we need time to be alone with God to hear his Word, and read it every day, and pray to him. This is where we get food for our soul. We need to sit as a family and let God feed us with his Word, have our devotion, and pray together.
Are you raising your children in that kind of atmosphere? After the children have gone, do you and your spouse spend time sharing the Word of God and praying together? If it is your desire to have a rich life with Jesus as your top priority, this needs to be a part of your daily living. Just as the body needs to be fed, so also the soul needs to be fed.
In today’s text, our Lord Jesus says, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
What does it mean that we are going to be rewarded according to the place Jesus has had in our lives? Taking the Bible as a whole, there is no question that Jesus Christ says we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and our works have nothing to do with our salvation whatsoever. But our Lord is saying in this text that, when we stand at the entrance to heaven, God will reward each person according to what he has done. The Apostle Paul will receive a greater reward than the robber at the cross who received the promise from Christ that he would be with Jesus in paradise. The robber had lived a terrible life with no thought given to his soul; he probably did not even know that he had a soul. The Apostle Paul gave his life as Christ’s disciple. There is quite a difference between the two lives.
My belief is that those who have lived with Jesus Christ as number one priority in their lives will have extra rewards in heaven. That is what our text is about today Ð Having Jesus Christ as the number one priority in our life makes us a mature witness for the Lord Jesus Christ himself. However, the closer Jesus comes to being number one in our life now, the richer he will make it as we walk on this earth. We have a Savior who stands with us, walks with us when we are in difficulty, and guides and directs us in our darkest hours when we don’t have many weeks left on this earth. He helps us see how we are to live with our fellow men and rebukes us when we do not do what he wants (and has clearly told) us to do in his Word. He is our constant guide and our constant aide. He speaks to us in the quiet times as we are spiritually fed by the Word of God. Then we can truly sing, “Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please him in all that I do,” for he has made this life rich, given me Christian friends and a Christian family. What he asks from us is to give him top priority.
I once knew a man who was good and kind. I liked him, but he was just a bit different because he lived almost completely for the accumulation of wealth. If you had asked him what place Jesus Christ had in his life, he probably would have said that he was raised in a Christian home and learned what it was to believe in Jesus. He was a faithful church goer and gave the church fifty dollars a year. One time, when his church was erecting a new building, he was asked to give a few thousand dollars (he was worth several million). He gave them a hundred dollars saying that was all he could afford to give, because he could not mess up his monthly budget. “That is what you’ll get Ð take it or leave it,” was what he told them.
Not long before this man died, he moved to a nursing home where he stayed in a room with four men, because it was the cheapest room he could get. A common friend of ours went to see him one day and found him sitting there, wearing a ragged, flannel shirt, held together with a safety pin. It was a shame. Our friend wanted to rip that old shirt off him and give him a new one. However, the man would not have been comfortable with it, for the price of a new shirt would have taken away from his plan of savings; and the bigger the estate, the better it was. Sad. Sad. Sad.
We understand what Jesus meant in his word when he said, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Money is not evil. It can be good. Much money has been given freely by those whose hearts have made Jesus their number one priority. And many others have heard the gospel as a result of these kinds of gifts and our smaller gifts. It doesn’t matter what the amount of the gift is as long as the percentage is in tune with it, and Jesus is given top priority.
Where does Jesus fit in with my finances? What place does he have in my life?
I believe this is the message our Lord wants us to conclude with in this outline of a faithful witness. A faithful witness has knowledge of the scriptures; a faithful witness has a willingness to suffer; and a faithful witness gives top priority to Jesus Christ. In his name,