Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

Was It Worth It?

Posted by Chardon in Matthew 5

WAS IT WORTH IT? 
MATTHEW 5:3 – 12

There is a bumper sticker that sums up life on earth like this:
“Many who seek Repentance from God at the 11th hour of their life...
Die at 10:30!

We often hear the question... “Was It Worth It?”
We can ask Adam & Eve as we read Genesis 2:8-9
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Then verses 15-17: 15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
And finally Genesis3:2-6: 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
We can ask Noah in Genesis 6:5-7
5 Then the LORD[a] saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

And then Genesis 7:19-22 we read 17 Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. 20 The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit[a] of life, all that was on the dry land, died.

Or, what about Job?

Or what does Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:3-12?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
"It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ."

Those words make a beautiful song, but some of the Jewish Christians to whom the letter of Hebrews was written were not sure that it was really worth it all to continue following Jesus.
As Jews they had endured cruel persecutions at the hands of both the Syrians & the Romans. But after they had become Christians, the persecutions were worse than before. Not only were they being persecuted by the Romans, but now as Christians, they were also being persecuted by the Jews themselves.

So all through the letter of Hebrews, the author seeks to encourage them - to help them understand that being a Christian is really worth it all. He reminds them that those who have been faithful to God have always faced persecution, but that the end result will be a glorious victory even beyond their imagination.

In Hebrews 11:32-34 he says, "What more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised;
"who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

He continues on in vs's 36-38, "Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword.

"They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - the world was not worthy of them."
Then in the next few verses he tells them to do 3 simple things. #1, Remember your heritage;
#2, Throw off everything that hinders;
& #3, Fix your eyes on Jesus. Listen as we go on to chapter 12 of Hebrews, vs's 1, 2, & 3.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
"Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

What a heritage is ours - not only all the heroes of our faith - but most of all, Jesus Christ, our Savior & our Lord!

I. REMEMBER YOUR HERITAGE
Paul tells them that it is important for them to remain faithful because of the example, the witness of all who have gone before. And he portrays it like they are in a race, & the stands are filled with those who have already run the race & won the victory.
For some of us today that is a very good motivation, because, like it or not, we realize that we are being watched.

ILL. A friend of mine tells about the time when he & his family & a bunch of relatives rented several cabins for a vacation.
And, of course, they took lots & lots of pictures.
On the last day together they decided they wanted a picture with all 16 of them in it. But then, who would take the picture? Well, one of them had a camera with a delay system where someone could push the button & still have time to run back & get in the picture before the camera shutter clicked.

So that is what they used. And here they were, all 16 of them on the porch - their arms around each other, with smiles frozen on their faces - waiting for the camera to click. A few moments passed & then someone muttered, "I didn't hear it click. Did you hear it click?"

There they stood, not daring to move, but becoming acutely aware that people walking by, who couldn't see the camera, were staring at them, evidently wondering what in the world they were doing. All they saw was 16 people with their arms around each other, standing absolutely still & grinning.

Well, why do we care what people think about us, & the way we look? What is it about us that wants people to be concerned about who we are & what we do?

Now I realize there are some who proclaim, "I don't care what anybody thinks or says about me!" But deep down, most of us do care, & we want to be respected & appreciated.
But very frankly, when the author speaks about a great "cloud of witnesses",

I'm not so sure that he is saying that they are busy watching us, & that O.T. patriarchs like Noah & Abraham & Isaac & Jacob, are all standing on the edge of heaven looking down at us, watching what we are doing right now.

My personal opinion is that he is saying that there is a great host of people who have already experienced even worse trials & temptations than we will ever face, & they overcame them. They remained faithful in spite of it all. And he is saying that if we are faithful we can win the victory, too!

However, we must recognize that people around us - our family, our friends, neighbors & co-workers are watching us, how we live, what we say & what we do - maybe even more than we realize. And what are they seeing?

ILL. Do you remember the murder trial of Sherri Wolfe? Her ex husband had complained repeatedly to his lawyer about the way she was treating him when he tried to exercise his visitation rights with their children.

Finally, the lawyer suggested that he hide a recording device under his shirt & just before going into his ex wife's home that he start the recorder so that they would have proof that he was being berated & abused when he went to pick up his children.
Little did he know that was the day they planned to murder him.
Before entering the house he switched on the recorder, & went in & sat down on the couch. When he did, Mrs. Wolfe's new husband & another relative attacked him from behind & repeatedly beat him over the head with an iron bar.
On the recording you can hear the sounds of the blows striking his head, & his groans as he died.

The District Attorney, when he addressed the jury, said, "Ladies & gentlemen of the jury. Sherri Wolfe is convicted by her own silence on this recording. The whole time her ex-husband was being beaten she said nothing."
Now he was dead. But even though he was dead, through the recording he was a witness at his ex-wife's murder trial.
And all throughout our lives we are being a witness, too!

II. THROW OFF EVERYTHING THAT HINDERS
If we were to read all of the 11th chapter of Hebrews telling about some of the great heroes of the faith, most of us would be inspired - challenged to get in there & run the race with them. But that doesn't guarantee that we will actually do it.
Most of us in our hearts, really want to run our race well, don't we? Those who have gone before us have passed the torch & given us a heritage & a faith to carry on.
Hymn #222
1. Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!
o Refrain:
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
2. Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them, could die for thee!
3. Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.
4. Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
But sometimes there are things in our life that hinder us from doing it. And in this passage the Apostle Paul pinpoints 2 of them.
A. He says, 1st of all, that we need to "throw off everything that hinders." Or as another Bible translation puts it to "lay aside every weight." Now notice that word "weight."
Paul used a interesting word here that was translated "weight."
Normally, we think of a "weight" as something that we wear or carry around. But the word that he used is the word for a tumor, a growth something that is actually growing as a part of us.
He is talking about that "weight" as a growing part of you that you wish to get rid of. You pray about it, & you wrestle with it but somehow it is still there. And that gets you into all sorts of trouble.

How many of us have prayed, "God, if I just weren't the way that I am if I just didn't get irritated & angry so quickly if I could just get along with people easier my life would be so much better."
Well, the biggest problem with most of us is pride - our pride that gets us into trouble. And a sure way to invite trouble is to do the following:
1. Think & talk only about yourself.
2. Use "I" as often as possible.
3. Expect to be appreciated.
4. Be suspicious, jealous & envious.
5. Be sensitive to the way people slight you.
6. Never forgive a criticism.
7. Trust nobody but yourself.
8. Demand agreement with your views on everything.
9. Sulk if people don't show gratitude for your favors.

I guarantee that you will be weighed down by things that hinder if you do those things.
B. But there is a 2nd thing that he tells us to get rid of
"the sin that so easily entangles..."

ILL. There is a troubling passage of scripture about Judas. John 12:6 says that while Judas was one of the 12 he served as their treasurer & was stealing from them. Evidently it was something that he did more than once.

Finally, the time came when Judas found himself with a perfect opportunity to betray Jesus for money. And at that point the Bible says that Satan "entered Judas."

Now what does that mean? I suggest that it means Satan decided, "This is too important to mess up now. I'm going to take charge of Judas myself."
I wonder how many people today find themselves entangled & are thinking, "Well, that's just the way I am. I can't change. And after all, a lot of other people are just like me."
Don't go down that path! Throw off everything that hinders, & fix your eyes on Jesus!
III. FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS
ILL. Do you remember being young & having your mother say to you, "Look at me when I'm talking to you." But you didn't want to because you knew you were in the wrong.
I wonder if sometimes Jesus is speaking to us & saying, "Would you look at me for a change? You would get in a lot less trouble, & be able to run the race successfully, if you would just fix your eyes on me."

ILL. There is a story told of a student who was stopped by a highway patrolman for speeding. The officer told him, "I'll give you a choice. You can either take this ticket & appear in court, or you can look at a picture album that I have in my patrol car."
The student happily replied, "I'll look at the picture album." So they went back to the patrol car, & the officer got out an album full of pictures of automobile accidents, & showed those pictures to him one by one.
The student later said, "I wish I had taken the ticket." Do you know why? Because when we look at the results of our mistakes, we generally don't like what we see. And that young man was shaken by what he saw.
That is why we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, & remember the price He paid for our sin & the love of God that sent Jesus to be our Savior & our Lord.

And one day - "It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ."
Invitation

Based on a sermon
given by Melvin Newland

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