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The Quest For Greatness

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
July 4, 2021 1:00 am

The Quest For Greatness

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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July 4, 2021 1:00 am

All of us desire to be great. Some of us even desire to do great things for God, but is unholy ambition lurking beneath the surface? Are our motives pure? Jesus had some penetrating words for a mother who wanted her sons to sit beside him in the coming kingdom. In this message, we learn the difference between selfishness and greatness. 

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All of us want to be significant in the eyes of others. For some, that means having money for others holding a high position tops the list. Jesus had some penetrating words for a mother who wanted her sons to sit beside him in the coming kingdom stay with us from Chicago. This is The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin would serve today, we turn to Matthew chapter 24 a lesson on leadership and why greatness in God's eyes is actually measured in terms of our being servants to others. Dr. Lidster comes now to open our service. We hope that this worship service which has been carefully planned, will be a great blessing to you and especially I'm hoping that the Lord will speak to all of our hearts regarding surveying him so please keep that in mind, let us invite the blessed Holy Spirit of God to guide us in a moment were going to sing a hymn that all of us love the solid rock, and we thank God that we have that confidence today. In a world that clearly has lost its way. We have the solid rock of Jesus Christ in the midst of all of our busyness. Can we bow our heads for just a few moments of silence than I shall pray and then we shall stand to sing the solid rock. Father, we thank you today for your faithfulness.

Thank you for being here in your presence, and we ask that in these moments. You might give us hearts that are tuned to you direct us and lead us as we yield to you in Jesus name, amen. Together from Psalm 86 please meet me in the bold print. This is God's holy word. Give ear to my prayer listen to my plea for great in the day of my trouble and collar crimes.

You for you answer me there is none like you among the gods of knowing nor are there any lyrics like healing, all the nations you have made shall come and worship before you all annoyed and shall glorify your name.

Thank you and I agree and do wondrous things. You know I Teach Me Your Way, Lord I'm a walking you choose unite my heart to fear your name. I give things to you oh Lord my God with my whole heart and I will glorify your name for we are born, wanting to be great archway. I think for example we see it on the playground where kids run and say I want to be first, I want to be first, I want to be first, we see it in high school where you want to be the center of attention where you want to look good where everybody thinks well of you.

We see it in college. Don't way. I was in Bible college and I remember a friend of mine in the first year was elected president of the class and I resented it. I doubt why him and not me. Couple of years later when I was elected president of the student body that really felt good. We all want to be great and then you get into your vocation and you want to climb, climb the ladder of success you want to do it.

And even if you step on some people in the way greatness is something that you desire and if somebody is ahead of you.

And if somebody gets paid more than you do and you do more work than he or she you become very resentful because of their greatness, which you can't have. We all want to be great, but I have a question for you today. What about this business of ambition is ambition.

The sin is that something good can it be redeemed. What does it look like because what I'm interested in, and I hope that you are interested in it as well is some day when we stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ when we stand before the judgment seat and our works are torched, we'd all like to have some gold or silver and precious stones. Amid all the hay and stubble. Love to have something that in what does that look like what today I'm going to ask you to turn to a passage of Scripture that is indeed remarkable.

It is compelling. It is bristling with lessons for us today, and it's the 20th chapter of the book of Matthew Matthew chapter 20 and actually verse 20 is where we begin Matthew 20 verse 20.

Now Jesus in verse 17, foretold his death and then then in the middle of this we read and I'm picking up now on Matthew 20 verse 20 page 825 if you have a Bible that is there and they seat ahead of you, then the mother of the sons of Zebedee, came to him with her sons and kneeling before him. She asked him for something and he said to her, what do you want she said them say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one on your right hand and one on your left in your kingdom. Jesus answered and now he's speaking to the sons directly. You don't know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am able to drink. They said you were able and he said you will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my father just that far for a moment here you have disciples who were of course interested in the promotion of Jesus Christ and the mother of James and John, whom we know to be so alone, who Mary probably was as sister to Mary the mother of Jesus, so long comes with a request to her nephew Jesus and says to him. Now what about your two cousins James and John. Would it be okay for them to be on the right and your right hand and your left in your kingdom that we may think that this is a very brash request and it is but after all, if you look back at chapter 19 and you pick it up in verse 28 Jesus did say to the disciples that in the new world when the Son of Man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.

So what's wrong with a little bit of paternalism a little bit of a nepotism I think is the word we use and why wouldn't you grant the requested that I have the James and John be on your right hand and on your left. Jesus said you don't know what you're asking. My father thought I think that that's true. When we pray to God. Often times the Lord says you don't have any idea what you're asking. But let's get these disciples some credit because after all, I they didn't drink of the cup didn't pay now when Jesus was crucified, they fled the most assuredly they were scared along with all of the other disciples, but then at least John came back and it ended up in acts chapter 12 that James is killed by Herod with the sword. James is the first apostle to die. Stephen is the first Christian martyr, but James is the first apostle to be martyred. And so his head was cut off by Herod.

He did follow Jesus in the cup of suffering and as for John he was exiled at the mount of Patmos.

The island of Patmos, and he was there and he suffered there to a great deal in were not sure exactly how he died. Some think he died a martyr's death, though historically we cannot prove that. So the disciples. Here are are willing to be with Christ and and so forth. And they come and they ask at this request and you'll notice that Jesus said in verse 23 when they said we are able.

He said to them in verse 23 you will drink my cup, but to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to grant but now notice verse 24 and when the 10 heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers what they are angry about is here are two of the disciples, two of the 12 for doing an end run on them. They are going to the boss for special favors and they have no right to and if James and John are at the right hand of Jesus. Why not Peter and Andrew. They deserved it just as much and the tan are indignant because they would like to sit there and here they are trying to get a special favor from Jesus, and Jesus makes the remarkable statement to them and says to them you don't understand the issue.

It is not mine to give.

He says, but it is given by my father who is in heaven. We have to just take a breath here and back up and look at the story and ponder it for a moment, let me ask you a question. Did these disciples love Jesus.

Of course they love Jesus were they willing to suffer for Jesus. Yes, they were willing to suffer for Jesus. That's very obvious. Did they want to see Jesus Christ glorified. Yes, most assuredly, they wanted to see Jesus glorified and yet underneath all that there was self will and on the holy ambition that a part of the action and prominence. It is John Calvin who says that this is a bright mirror of human vanity.

He says holy zeal is often accompanied by unholy and edition on the holy ambition with holy zeal, it is Luther who said that the sinful nature seeks to be glorified before it is crucified.

This idea of motive of wanting prominence of wanting to be recognized and wanting to be first of wanting to receive all the things that we have coming to us and resenting those who do less than we are and they get the praise all of that lies with in our heart and so Jesus gathers the 12 together and says I've something to say to you, it is not just the James and John are wrong but 10 of you are wrong. This is not a James and John problem. This is a disciple problem and I say to you today. This is your problem and it is my problem to holy zeal.

Often times, a mask for some very unholy ambition. Calvin got it right in my how it dies so hard. Oh, we find it all of our lives. These disciples who hears these words of Jesus and yet before the Last Supper there. They are there, having an argument as to who is the greatest thing disciples get over it, but know it is embedded in the human nature, our sinful nature. It is in there all the time willing to crop up, and that's where we are today. Certainly in modern evangelicalism who is the greatest pastor who is the greatest singer who has the greatest church who has the greatest audience who is the greatest and the idea that other people can be used more than we are, that they can be blessed more than we are and we have resentment in our hearts towards them. All that is sin that God sees and lies in my heart and yours it dies hard but I need to share with you today that once it dies.

Can you imagine how liberating it is. Imagine being so free from NV that you can rejoice in other people's success. Somebody who does less work than you do but get more pay you rejoice in the fact that God has blessed them that way and you begin to serve others. Because the values of the kingdom are very different than the values of the world.

And now Jesus goes on to show them that Jesus says that greatness in the kingdom is very different and there have been some who have been appointed to sit at the right hand of Jesus and the left but only the father knows who they are what Jesus is saying is the father ordained from before the foundation of the world who will sit to the right of Jesus, and who will sit to his left and is not a matter of favoritism. It's a matter of the father's sovereign choice and before this message is over will speculate on the kind of person that might be at the right of Jesus and his left. What I'd like to do now is to give you three truths three truths it will help us to understand true greatness and at the end of this message.

I want us to deal with the sin nature.

The sin nature of resentment the on the holy ambition. Well first of all let me put it this way. Jesus now teaches that greatness is not a matter of ruling but observing. Listen to what Jesus says to the 12. In verse 25 he called them to him and said you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.

But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great.

I urge you today my dear friend even as I urge myself. Let us will and desire to be great but here's the formula whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Jesus says greatness is not ruling greatness is serving when he talks about service. He uses the word diaconate us where familiar with it because it's the word from which we get the word deacon or Deaconess and historically had meant a person who did menial tasks.

That's what deacon or Deaconess was but what Jesus does is he elevates this and he says this is greatness in the kingdom. If you want to be great find that this is the road to greatness. You want to be great in the kingdom you become a volunteer in our children's ministry and Philip need that we have for volunteers that'll get you some greatness in the kingdom. To be sure you serve others.

If you want to be great in the kingdom. You can sign up for by the hand club for kids. They need volunteers to minister to children. One hour per week that you can work into your schedule to make a life transforming impact in the life of the child. Now that's the root to great you begin to serve others. Jesus here gives us an example and if you really want to be great in the kingdom.

I'll throw this and you really want to be great in the kingdom. Once you sign up with our parking committee and dad wanted to be willing to skip church every once in a while, so that you can greet all the people that come in park their cars with a wonderful smile and welcome them to Moody Church. Now that's the path to great a man must be a member of the parking committee who back there and of course it's not only serving within the church it serving within our community. One of the passages of Scripture. I've often read with tears in my eyes and this is very convicting to me because my wife and children would tell me that I would much rather be served than to serve listen to Jesus. Now he says be ready. Truly I say to you, be ready when the Lord comes. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly I say to you, she I'm reading God's word here. I would never make this up, he that is, the master will gird himself dress himself for service and have them recline at the table and he will come and serve them in the kingdom Jesus is going to say to his beloved ones. You folks sit down and what I'm going to do is I'm Don that the address of the servant and all, and serve. You want to do something great in the kingdom. Do you volunteer for kitchen service when were having a dinner you work in those areas and Jesus said that that's the path to greatness. It is not ruling it is serving. I thought about this because you're thinking about it right now to you should be should be a little bit ahead of me all the time. Not all the time but sometimes your question of course is can a Christian ever run for political office because you know, in politics, you're at the top of this pyramid and everybody has to has to serve you. People love to be served. The answer is yes, but it is a very careful yes, every politician and every leader will say that he's running for the good of the people for the good of the country. I mean, that's just standard fare.

Fact is that often times that masks some very, very deceptive motives of power and authority and whatever I have. I hang on until my knuckles turn white.

I was in Canada recently and heard of a politician there who needed three precincts will call them that in order to be elected because everybody else was for him, but not these three so he went and he made them a promise, a promise I won't tell you what it is because that's irrelevant. But as a result of that promise. He wasted $125 million of the taxpayers money just to get elected. No doubt he says well I'm doing it for the good of the people. Yeah sure, but if a person wants to run as a Christian, what he needs to do is to say I'm running as a servant of righteousness. I'm running in order to to glorify God and to help this country bring glory to God. Those motives those motives have to be clear, I like what the commentator Lenski said I want you to visualize the world as a pyramid okay and at the top is the president or the king or the leader of a country and most of the time. In the case of the world. Of course he's on top. There everybody is beneath him doing him service. Lenski said great men are not sitting on top of lesser men, but bearing the lesser men on their backs. The pyramid is inverted. You want to be a Christian leader, a Christian politician find that you be at the lower end of the pyramid and you be committed to righteousness, and you don't give in to all the whims of your party and all the things you have to do to get elected for quote to go to the people, but you run for the glory of God on God's standards. As you know them and carrying the needs and the concerns and the burden of people on your back. That's greatness in the kingdom of God.

So first of all, Jesus said that what we must do is he said greatness is not a matter of ruling it is a matter of serving.

Secondly, true greatness is not a matter of convenience is not a matter of convenience. As a matter of being willing to sacrifice your willing to sacrifice. Jesus said to them that you want to be great in the kingdom. Hey, are you able to drink the cup that I'm going to drink. They said you were able, and history prove that they were essentially correct. They were able to drink that cup when we think to ourselves that to true greatness in the kingdom is coasting along volunteering when ever it just happens to be, can end and doesn't upset anything that we are planning to do as long as it doesn't cost me anything as long as there's no real time commitment. I'd rather even throw a few dollars in the offering basket. But one thing is sure I will not be involved. And so there are people in our churches today who say preach to me saying to me, and by the way the music had better be the kind that I like because I like the same kind of music is God so what you're saying is preach to me, teach me you'd better bless me because if not, I'll be outta here, but I'm not going to get involved in any way that costs me anything. My friend, do you honestly think that at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ.

God is going to say to you, well done, thou good and faithful servant. For thou hast listened to 3461 messages, enter thou into the joy of the kingdom. I don't think so many of us are admirers of Von Hoffer, who of course stood against Hitler and you know that whole story. And if you don't you really want to because he's a great model Von Hoffer judged the church's excoriated and I hope that's the right word and he said that they were interested in cheap grace. Cheap grace meant that you come to church. You enjoy this service and you leave unaffected uninvolved and being unwilling to pay any significant price for what you believe. That's cheap grace and then some of Von Hoffer's sermons and of course his book on discipleship are powerful expressions of that whole idea and then Von Hoffer asked this question.

He says who is Jesus Christ for you. You said in our day.

It is good you now remember Jesus said you member in Matthew 25 that if you visit somebody in prison, you visited me if you close somebody of clothes me and will and people are going to say when a moment Jesus you weren't in prison. I didn't call you I didn't bring you meals and he will say.

Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you've done it to me so Jesus comes to us today. Who is Jesus for you is Jesus the perhaps the single mother who give anything if only some father would come along and take her boy along with his boy to a baseball game is that who Jesus is. Do you perhaps is Jesus, the biracial child who is struggling with identity is that the person was struggling with their sexuality is that the person that Jesus is to you is that the person across the street that is had a tragedy in their home, to whom you can bless by bringing meals or whatever. Who is Jesus for you today sir see the reason that so many of you have not committed to things such as our children's ministry or by the hand is because you want something that is can mean the end, something that is easy something that doesn't disrupt your type something that doesn't require that you go to a debatable neighborhood, but that you stay in a comfort zone and that you and I stay there, absolutely committed to ourselves and to our own comforts with Christianity thrown in unforgiving, largely uncaring, but enjoy eating. Jesus said you want to be great in the kingdom. You'd better be willing to sacrifice for the kingdom because everything else.

Much of what we do is all going to go up in smoke but the gold silver and precious stones are involvement that costs us something to remember. David David Roan of the Jebusites said to him, okaying if you want to build a temple here are all offered sacrifice here on this rock I will give it to you and Davidson. I'm going to pay you a fair price because I will not offer on to God.

That which costs me nothing while Jesus is saying you want to be great in the kingdom. Don't you be great.

Be willing to sacrifice for the kingdom and then third and this gets to the heart of it. This is where the conviction comes. If you're already convicted.

Fasten your seatbelt and that is that true greatness is not me centered. True greatness is not me centered. True greatness is cross centered that your Bibles are open. Thank you for bringing them to the church you'll notice it says this of Jesus.

We rated a moment ago whoever would be great among you must be your servant whoever would be first among you would be your slave. By the way, are you a slave to your employer is a sure M what are you complaining about Jesus said that if you want to be great you have to be a slave. But now noticed even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom literally the Greek says in the stead of Manny people would understand that in Jesus Christ day because a ransom was what was paid.

If you wanted to buy a slave out of out of his slavery. You paid a ransom.

You paid money to free him.

What Jesus is saying in this text is I am the one that gave myself as a ransom. I offered myself up to buy you out of the kingdom of darkness to bring you into the kingdom of light and I paid the price of a slave and more paying it all to the father.

Of course, because of the tremendous nest of our sin and therefore I bought you and I did that. Not because I had to but because I love you and I am a servant is not wonderful to know that we have been redeemed by Jesus.

The ransom has been paid. Friday evening I was flying to Chicago speaking somewhere else for a couple of days this past week. Beside me was a wonderful woman who I got to know, and I knew that she was religious because of a talk we had maybe she's even here today. I invited her to Moody Church.

If she can come but I smiled as I often do try to and said to her now.

Do you think that you have done enough so that when you die you get to heaven. I just asked you that question and she looked at me with a smile and she said well how can we know how much we have, do to get that. Don't you love it is that the question that everybody should grapple with how much do you have to do to get to heaven. How wonderful it was for me to remind her that Jesus Christ's ransom was complete and he paid it all for those who believe on him. Augustine's top lady headed right. Could my tears forever flow could my zeal no rest. Spike no all for sin could not atone. Thou must say, and that alone. And if you're listening to this and you think that you're going to get to heaven because you have done enough good works. You are very deceived. You must come to Christ, receive in the Savior except what he did and the payment that he made on behalf of sinners. He gave himself a ransom instead of the many who believe on him. But there's more to being ransom than just forgiveness. Beautiful though that is when you study the rest of the New Testament, you discover that entailed in that is also it's also freedom it's it's it's coming to the cross of Jesus Christ. It's laying down the unholy ambition because we come to the place of the cross and we I do self will. It was that George Mueller, who had many orphanages in England ministering to the poor who said the day came when I die to George Mueller what he meant was I die to all of my ambitions I die to all the things that I think I want to do and I submit myself ultimately to God and he can do through me.

Whatever he desires. It doesn't matter who gets the credit. It doesn't matter if people get more pay than I do. It doesn't matter all that matters is my service to God. It is called cross centered servant hood that comes right to the heart of our own selfish motivation and it is there that God puts the acts right to the root of the tree. Well, who do you think is going to be on the right hand of Jesus, and on his left. Maybe Peter and John are candidates.

I don't know but let's suppose for fun and this has to be funding proposal. Let's suppose it's you, of all things. Use your imagination a little bit here and how would you feel that Jesus said I a you know you sit at the right hand.

How would you feel you would be so and nays. Ed race you would be so filled with praise, knowing that this is the on all leaf and you'd be giving thanks to God. Did you know that someday when we are there at the at the kingdom and there's somebody on the right hand of Jesus and somebody on the left. Did you know that that's the way you're gonna feel about them. Jonathan Edwards was right when he said that when we get to heaven. We are going to be so delivered from self that when we see other people glorify and honored above us. We will rejoice as if their exultation were our own.

Can you imagine that.

Imagine being done with all image building. Imagine being done with all sense of unholy competition.

Imagine being done with envy to people who have more than you do, or who are blessed. Moreover, who got paid more, though they did less. Imagine being so so filled with the glory of God that you rejoice in the success of others or than you could even your own, you know, James and John were fully sanctified way back when they were here on earth, and that if the disciples were fully sanctified and let's suppose James and John did go to Jesus and make the request. If those tan had been fully sanctified, you know, date of said James and John. We just heard that you went to Jesus to get the top spot in the kingdom and we are excited for you. We hope that he says yes idem happened at it and it doesn't happen where you work tomorrow either does it. Those are the values of the kingdom. So you want to do something great.

We want everyone in this church and I realize that some of you because of infirmities of various kinds and limitations. It may not apply to one of put unholy guilt on you, but to for the rest of us. We want everybody to be involved in something, something that cost you something.

Something that serves other people without getting anything back as Jesus even said he said when you're going to throw a feast bring the people that you confirm the lame, the blind people who can never repay you and then he says I will repay you at the resurrection of the just. Now that's true greatness. That's what Jesus is saying the values of the kingdom are all about. That's why when this services over hundreds of you should go into the lobby and you should find out more information and commit yourself to something that has eternal value because only that is going to survive the fire. Well, you say Pastor Lutzer okay how do I know when I am a servant. Thank you again for asking that question. I'm always a step ahead of you. Now our time. How do you know when you're a servant, Lauren, Sandy, who was the founder of the navigators set on one occasion that if you want to know if you're a servant, he said, you can tell by the way in which you respond are treated like one.

I kinda like that, and I think you should like that to.

How do you respond when you're treated like a servant will that's beneath me why did she asked me to do that.

Why doesn't somebody else to now you're not a servant respond that way and I'm not a servant of I respond that way.

What Jesus is saying is follow in my footsteps because even the Son of Man, he didn't come to be served. He came to serve and give his life had great personal cost in behalf of Manny and he and he is the example that we follow today so that all of our slots here at The Moody Church of volunteerism are filled with more people than we need because we have the heart to follow Jesus turned the values of the world upside down have you died to self, have you come to the cross and said okay I give up my ambition and I choose your holy ambition and when you do that God may lead you to earn a lot of money specially so that you can give it away. God may enable you to become president of your company. God may give you a great ministry, but let God to be first and the only question you ask in the midst of it all is, how is he glorified, and how does the cross look through my life and ministry. So what you think it's bowel and prayer father.

We are so so self-centered, so sensitive to the way in which we look in the way others perceive us and whether were getting a fair shake or whether we aren't in, whether were getting the credit that we think we deserve and whether somebody's upstaging us were all just bound up in those kinds of sin bring deliverance to your people today bring them Lord, to the foot of the cross.

Even father as you worked in my heart this week in preparation for this message. We all needed to hear it all. Father bring us to be servants of Jesus, may we follow him. Now before I close this prayer I want you to pray because God's talk to you and he's talked to you about your life is talk to you about your motivation he wants to give you holy ambition instead of unholy ambition and you need to deal with God right now. You go ahead and do that in in silence right now is you call on God. Father I pray that this may be a beginning where we come to the cross.

Every morning and once again yield all of the rationalizations holy ambition is what we desire. We pray father that holy zeal may not mask unholy ambition and make this a church father God that is on fire to serve this community to serve our neighbors to serve one another to serve those whom you bring with us than you bring to us, make us a serving church in Jesus name we ask a man a man a man on today's Moody Church.

Our Dr. Erwin lutes are spoke on the quest for greatness taken from Matthew chapter 20 we hope today's lessons on leadership will resonate in your life and be displayed in the way you treat other people. We'd like to put today's message on leadership in your hands on CD is our way of saying thanks for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church. Our just call us at 1-800-215-5001. Ask about the quest for greatness. When you call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at The Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to that's next week doing this for another Moody Church. Our with Dr. Erwin lutes are in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church

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