Friday, February 04, 2011
Today’s Topic: Out of Nothing Comes Everything
Today’s Text: Isaiah 33:10 “Now will I arise,” says the LORD. “Now will I be exalted; now will I be lifted up.”
It is the exact opposite of what the world teaches. Since we were born we have been bombarded with the message that we must excel. We must do everything in our power to become the best that we can be. We must win at all cost. We must get our own way in everything. We must strive with all our might to exceed the popularity, power, and position of everyone close to us. We believe that the true measure of our worth is in the value of our possessions.
Pastor Leith Anderson, in a sermon he preached in 1999 called The Height of Humility, told this story:
It was a strange bicycle race. According to the story I read, the object of this race in India was to go the shortest distance possible within a specified time. At the start of the race, everyone cued up at the line. When the gun sounded all the bicycles, as best they could, stayed put. Racers were disqualified if they tipped over or one of their feet touched the ground. And so they would inch forward just enough to keep the bike balanced. When the time was up and another gun sounded, the person who had gone the farthest was the loser and the person closest to the starting line was the winner.
Imagine getting into that race and not understanding how the race works. When the race starts, you pedal as hard and fast as you possibly can. You’re out of breath. You’re sweating. You’re delighted because the other racers are back there at the starting line. You’re going to break the record. You think, This is fantastic. Don’t let up. Push harder and faster and longer and stronger.
At last you hear the gun that ends the race, and you are delighted because you are unquestionably the winner. Except you are unquestionably the loser because you misunderstood how the race is run.
Jesus gives us the rules to the eternal race of life. The finish line is painted on the other side of our deaths, right in front of the throne of God himself. There you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. The winning strategy for this life and for all eternity is caring about others and not about ourselves. It is letting others go first and not pushing to the front. It is giving without the expectation of getting in return. It is to be humble, like Jesus.
Twice yesterday I had this illustrated to me in the lives of two men from our church. Both examples involved their work and their responsibilities as managers. Both have to do with upcoming Super Bowl game on Sunday. Both men are in management in their respective places of business. Both told similar stories of personal greed that will require them to show Godly humility.
In both stories, an employee was scheduled to work the closing shift on Sunday night, meaning that they would have to miss the big game. In the first instance, after unsuccessfully trying to find someone to take her place on her shift, the employee sent a text message to her boss simply stating that she quit. She made a decision that the game and being with her friends was more important than her job and financial decision. She will regret that. If not now, then most certainly later when this kind of selfish behavior brings her to rock bottom. Her decision is most likely going to result in her boss, also a huge Packer fan, to have to work and miss the game.
The second story is similar. The employee didn’t quit, but made life so miserable for everyone around her by her whining and complaining that she deserved to be fired. Instead, her boss and huge Packer fan, and a Christian, stepped up to the plate and volunteered to work for her. He said he wanted to be the bigger person. I told him he was being the Godly person.
Scripture is clear that God will arise and be exalted, and bring us with Him, when we renounce self and trust Him to be our Provider and Protector. It’s not what we learn from the world, but it is what results in ultimate glory – for Jesus and for us. Remember His words? The first will be last, and the last will be first. Anyone who loses his life for My sake will find it, but whoever strives to keep his life will lose it.