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About this series
How Jesus Chose to Change the World
What does it mean to be a real disciple of Jesus? Through this new series based in the Gospel of Mark, Chip breaks down this complex idea, by using the simple lessons Jesus taught His followers. We'll learn how characteristics like commitment, humility, and trust - set genuine Christ followers apart. Chip helps us better understand how we can avoid sin, grow in our walk with Christ, and just as important, help others mature in their faith as well. Don't miss how real disciples of Jesus, can radically change our world.More from this series
The third observation about kids is they rarely understand how much sacrifice it takes to do for them what you do for them. Do they? I mean, the average, when’s the last time, those of you that have kids, a kid walked in and said, “Mom, Dad,” or, “Mom,” or, “Dad,” or whatever, “I’d like a little talk with you. I’ve been doing some thinking. You know you guys get up early, my clothes are clean, there’s food on the table, I read an article that it’s going to cost you a hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand dollars to get me from zero to eighteen alone. There’s been sacrifice. It has interrupted your relationship. I just want you to know that you two are incredible and you’re swell. Thanks.”
See, kids don’t say that, do they? After you give, they say, “Hey, how come we didn’t get this too?” Right? Now, now, as we are laughing, now listen very carefully why Jesus illustrated with a child. He is saying, here’s the test, the acid test of our servanthood, here it is, the acid test of our servanthood is our motives.
You see, if you’re willing to serve a little child, if you’re willing to serve people who can’t pay you back, who can’t take you out to lunch, who can’t affirm you, who can’t give you a visible position, who can’t do something to let everyone know what a great servant you are, then you must be doing it for only one reason. For the Father as an act of worship. See, go back and look in nurseries and four and five-year-olds and elementary rooms and Awana. And you find the people that work there, you know something? Those kids, can you imagine when one of those Awana kids, “Hey, I just want to tell you you’re making a significant, eternal impact on my life. I really appreciate it.” You know what they say? “Hey, how come we didn’t have more snack? Where’s the lemonade?” And they learn.
And the people who work with children, you know what? You know what their motivation is? Do they get a lot of recognition? A lot of visibility? I guess they are doing it for the Father. Now, just kind of if you have a spiritual seatbelt, fasten it real mildly because I am going to take the scalpel of God’s Word and I am going to just put it right in between some of your ribs and into your heart. I wonder why there’s always a great need for people to minister from the crib through sixth grade, junior high, and often even high school. Mostly the early grades. You know why? There are no strokes to be found. There’s little visibility. Mostly ingratitude. You know what it requires?
It requires a heart for God. It requires sacrifice. It requires taking off the me-first mindset and the hassle and saying to the least of these, “I do it not for them only, but for you and the Father welcomes me.”
The Lord now shifts gears and after giving this acid test of what makes a great person, and basically the question is, “Why do we do what we do?” That’s what He’s getting down to: the motive, the heart.
And as we get there, He reminds us we are not in competition with one another. Isn’t that great? Comparison is always the root of carnality. When I’m trying to figure out whether you read more or give more or serve more or do more, you know something? That’s just carnal. Because I don’t know God’s agenda for you. And God really doesn’t want me to know His agenda for you. But He wants me to have a Father-first, others-before-me mindset and come to Him and do what He wants me to do.
You know, the only reason that keeps us from sacrificial giving of time and talent and treasure, you know what it is? A me-first mindset. My schedule, my stuff, my bills. And often many of our bills are things that in an impulse when we are feeling down we went out and bought that we didn’t need and can’t afford and have payments up to our eyeballs to soothe the pain for a while. And the Lord is cutting through this and saying, There’s a road to greatness! It’s a radical road! Not a lot of people travel it. But you get on this road and take off that me-first mindset and put a Father-first, others-before-you mindset, you will be great.
The second thing now He’s going to say is that this isn’t just for the elite, for the insiders. This isn’t just for people who have been to seminary or Bible college or on the inside or leadership or close to Christ in some way, however you define that. This is for everybody. Notice how John, verse 38. Now, I’m not sure whether this is a confession or whether a diversion.
Conviction has occurred. He’s got the spiritual dagger in his heart, it’s being gently twisted I think. And he is either confessing, “Teacher, oh gosh, if we are supposed to teach little children like this, I’ve got to tell you, you can’t believe what we did the other day. We met some people and they weren’t in our group and they were actually casting out demons in Your name and doing ministry in Your name successfully, unlike us. And so, we told them to stop, because they’re not part of our group.” Whoo. “They don’t run around with us. They don’t go to our church. They are not even our denomination, or our non-denomination. And so, we told them to stop.”
Jesus now is going to teach that this jealousy of others, this exclusive attitude and competition with other people is to also be forbidden, because it is rooted in a me-first mindset too.
Verse 38, “‘Teacher,’ said John, ‘we saw a man driving out demons in Your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’” Answer, “‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘No one does a miracle in My name and can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, for whoever is not against us is for us.’” In fact, emphatic, “I tell you the truth,” I tell you the truth, not only people who are doing ministry and big time things like casting out demons, but I tell you the truth, “anyone who gives you a cup of water in My name,” a small, teeny, bitty bit of Father-first, others-first sacrifice, “anybody who does a tiny little thing in My name and gives it because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose their reward.”
We are not in competition with other people and we are not in competition with other works. Sometimes I am absolutely astounded and semi-amazed because I didn’t grow up in a Bible tradition that churches and I hear church people talking about other churches and parachurch ministries when they do well like something is wrong.
Now, help me think this through because maybe I’ve got a tainted view growing up somewhere, maybe had a head injury or something. But it seems to me that if they are preaching the same Christ, and they may vary on this and they may be very serious in expressing it or they may be a little rowdier than we are over here. But if they are preaching Christ, believe Scripture, and are introducing people to Him and helping them mature, shouldn’t we be happy when things are going well for them? And shouldn’t it grieve our heart when they are struggling? And shouldn’t the things that come out of our lips be encouraging and positive instead of critical and detrimental?
Now, help me if I don’t have that right, but I’ve kind of got this picture of this big boat and different kind of people in the boat, in the struggle, and we are bailing water and these other people are bailing too and we are saying, “Hey, wait a second, you’re using the wrong sized pail.”
And it just somehow seems to me that we are on the same team. And I think the Lord is saying to John, Hey, John, there’s no exclusivism. Hey, John, they may not do it our way, they may not be in our little band, but you know what? You guys are not the only guys that can be great and this is not the only group that can be great. I’ve got lots of people doing lots of things everywhere and you know what they have in common with you? If they are great, they have exchanged their me-first mindset, selfishness, and they have put on a Father-first mindset and an others-before-me mindset. And they are serving in My name, they are serving in My power. My blessing is upon them and they will be great. So, John, shut up.
What I’d like to notice here too that Jesus, He says, “You don’t have to be big time. It’s the small gift. It’s parking in such a way that someone older in rain could have a closer spot. It’s picking up after yourself.
It’s pulling stuff out of the laundry that you didn’t put in the laundry and going ahead and folding it for the person who does it. It’s finding dishes that you didn’t dirty and cleaning them in the name of Christ for them. And it’s doing your own so someone else doesn’t have to do that. It’s little things. It’s a smile. It’s a kind word. It’s a note. It’s a phone call. It’s not to get credit, not to gain attention, but it’s to put the needs of other people in tiny little ways everywhere for others. It makes you great. Great in God’s eyes and He will exalt you. That’s what He’s talking about.
And I’ll tell you what, it has drastic implications and impact.
At one point, those of you that know the story of Theresa and I, Theresa was very godly and I was very slow in our relationship.
And after a year, she knew we were going to get married and I kept checking it out for another year and a half after that. And I struggled and struggled and struggled and I was at a conference here in California. And as I was at this conference, a long story, but basically it was a conference where they brought in the meal and it was salads on, like, five or six long tables and about a hundred and fifty people. So, if you were in the last third, basically, you came through and got lettuce with nothing.
And so, after the first day, everybody got smart at this good, Christian conference with a me-first mindset. And you made sure you got up there close and early and got all the good stuff.
And being subtly open to the Holy Spirit I was having my quiet time, it happened to be on servanthood, read that, was convicted by God and said, “Tomorrow, I’m going to be last in the line. Just a small little, no big deal.”
And the other thing I had been praying is a man named Dick Hillis who was the president of OC or Overseas Crusades. He and I had met two or three times. And for some reason, I got in my mind, If I could talk to him about Theresa and I, he would really have some answers. I don’t know where I got that, but I think it was from God.
And so, I wait and people were going through this line, and what I didn’t realize, because I had been pretty selfish the first two days is that not only when you’re at the end of the line do you get the lousy food, but there’s no place to sit either.
So, now we are down to three or four people and I’m at the very end and this guy travels all over the world and guess who walks in the door. Dick Hillis. Huh! And he comes, “Hey, Chip! How are you doing?” “Doing great. Good to see you, Mr. Hillis.”
And so, we get our salad with little else and he looks around and says, “Hey, it looks pretty crowded in here. Why don’t we go in the conference room?” And I spend the next forty-five minutes with Dick Hillis, share my story. And he doesn’t ask penetrating questions. He looks at me and says, “Marry her, my son!” And then with his eye, hey, no joke, with his eyes open, he starts praying, “God, I pray that You put Your hand on this guy,” and you know? Hey. And he’s not even charismatic, you know?
But I was actually so conservative at that point in my life, after God did that and I gave Him forty-five other tests that He fulfilled, I said, Lord, I’ll tell You what. Now, I’m going to wait twenty-four hours in case You want to tell me anything differently. And then I’m going to call Theresa long distance and ask her to marry me. So, I, to the hour I waited and went into a room and called her and…
But here’s the point. It’s a good story. I love to tell it. Why did I meet Dick Hillis? I made a tiny little application to take off my Christian me-first mindset and in a tiny way said, Lord, I want to have a Father-first, others-before-me mindset. And God exalted my life. God gave me an answer to prayer.
You do that in your home, you do that in your office, you begin to do that with your dollars, you do that with your time, and you will experience joy and power like you have never tasted in your life.
Now, right after that, Jesus has told us that if you want to be great, you can. Here’s the road. It’s being a servant. He said it’s not just for some; it’s for everyone. And then now I’m going to breeze through the next eight verses because, one, they are theologically packed with problems and I don’t want to spend too much time on them.
But what’s clear in it is there is a warning sign on this road. You know those big, they’re not triangular, they are diamond-shaped and they mean “warning” and they are bright yellow and they have flashing lights? Jesus is saying, You want to be great? Great. You want to be a servant? Great. It’s available to everyone? Great. But now He says, Look out, because there are two things you’ve got to be careful of. In your pursuit of greatness, you be very careful to be sensitive and genuine so you don’t cause other people to stumble. And secondly, you better make sure that your own life is pure and clean before Me, because if there’s sin in your life, it’s impossible to have a Father-first mindset.
See, sin deceives you. And if there’s anything that you do, anything that you see, any problem that you have, you’ve got to deal with that before you can be a servant.
Let me walk through it as we close. “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in Me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.”
Who were the people that were causing people to stumble? It was the Pharisees, largely. And what was their problem? Legalism and hypocrisy. When we, in our walk with God, begin to add layers of what people have to do to be spiritual, and we begin to talk one way and live another way, so people have confidence in us, and then we let them down and they see gross things in our lives, they get disillusioned and they stumble.
I can’t tell you when all the TV evangelists went down the tube, my office was filled with people who said, “Hey, man, I just wonder if this is really real.” Those of you that have been through a pastor falling that is close to you, disillusioning isn’t it? And the young. See, the mature say, “Hey, he’s just a man and he struggles, he’s got problems, it was sin, he was tempted,” and on and on.
But, see, the neophyte, the new believer, you know what he says? The new believer says, “I thought there was hope! I thought that guy, there was truth! I thought there was something to sink my teeth into. He’s just like the rest.” And Jesus says when you emerge as a great person and are a godly person, and you live in hypocrisy, boy, you be careful, because it would be a whole lot better if you took this donkey-sized millstone, put it around your neck, and they threw you in the ocean, because I care a lot about those new believers.
Secondly, He says the second warning is you need to make sure that your heart has the right condition to be a servant. And it means ridding it of sin. Strong words.
He’s saying, in essence, be as radical as you need to be to deal with the known sin in your life, because until you deal with the known sin in your life, the idea of being a servant is a joke.
You can’t have a double life and be living with someone here and be watching trash over here and be cheating people over here and be dishonest over here and have anything other than a me-first mindset. All you’ll be is a faker.
Summary, conclusion, have salt in yourselves. What’s He saying? Be distinctive. Be a servant. Be pure. Personally. And then, be at peace with one another. What was the problem when this started? They are arguing. What’s His remedy? Follow the radical road of servanthood. You get peace with one another.