Loving the Kingdom Mess
Hebrews chapter 13. I want you to know this passage; I hope I can communicate this passage of Scripture as much as it has meant to me. This is one of those passages that, when you see the totality of the way Hebrews works itself together, and you get to this passage, there is a paradigm shift that happens within your mind in the way that you live for Jesus. This is one of those passages for me, going back in it, meditating on it this week, just delighting in it so much, I became a blubbering mess, and thinking about how this thought in Scripture just impacted my life. And it really compares and contrasts for us in knowing what Jesus calls us to, the idea of living for His kingdom and the gospel against the thought of religious mentality and the freedom that, really, Jesus gives us in our lives.
The book of Hebrews, I know, guys, I’ve said this to you several times, these first ten chapters for me just … It has done so much in the way that I see Jesus, and the beauty of who He is, that God didn’t come up with this plan of redemption just out of nothing and based on a need, but rather from a … based on a need from the beginning of history. This is how He has orchestrated all things, and when you look at the Old Testament and the system of worship that the Jews had, all of it was a shadow of what Jesus would ultimately fulfill. So in showing Jesus, the centrality of everything in our lives, and the kingdom that He represents, now calling us into that kingdom to live in light of that.
Beautiful section of Scripture, and in fact, if you remember last week, the verse that we ended with, in the very end of chapter 12, it says this in verse 28: “Therefore, since we have received a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” This word for “service” is often translated in some translations of the Bible as “worship.” It’s a word for “worship.”
It’s living now in light of what you learned. You belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken. This Jesus who is King, this kingdom of which you are a part of, God has called you now in response to all of that, seeing how Jesus has orchestrated His hand of redemption for your heart, His life has been about pursuing you and offering you freedom in Him. He now calls you into something in that kingdom. The way you live your life in this world is not for the pleasures of this world according to you being God, or according to you being king, but rather you represent a greater king whose desire for you is bigger than the desires that you can carry for your own life. We tend to dream small.
We think of certain pleasures in life that if we just pursued them, would make us happy, only to find that in pursuing those pleasures, we still end up empty. They bring temporary delight but not the full satisfaction for which your joy was intended to discover only in God, really.
So it’s saying to us, in these verses, it’s getting us to think about this kingdom, this purpose, now living for a life bigger than just yourself. God’s got greater plans than you just seeking your own personal pleasure, which only brings temporary satisfaction. You were designed for more. So these verses start to create those thoughts in our lives. How does it look now to live in light of this kingdom, if our living doesn’t challenge us and our growth, to die to self and live to Christ, to change?
That what you truly believe should impact how you behave, because what you ultimately believe you obey. There’s this war that happens within all of us as to what we surrender to. The inclination with our human tendency and it’s permeated in American culture, is to live life for self. Wake up tomorrow and answer the question, what makes you happy? That is the surefire way to make sure in your life, you are never happy. You will find temporary joy, the Bible tells you. Sin is fun for a season, but you were created for way, way more than just self.
This passage starts in response to this kingdom of what that should look like in our lives as we begin to emulate an interaction of this kingdom of God in which we are invited to belong to. We start to model a life that looks like Jesus. So he says to us, in the very first verse, let love of the brethren continue. It carries this idea that you’re already loving. That when you see the love that God has demonstrated for you, and you love God in response, you embrace what Jesus has done for you on the cross, and you’re, God make me new. God save me. God you are my king. You’ve come to rescue me. I’ve never been loved to this degree.
That in my sin, you pursued me. In the darkness of my heart, God, you bring light and life. We understand that magnitude of love that Jesus, Jesus didn’t owe us anything. God could have poured his wrath out on us in sin because he’s holy and perfect. Yet he chose to love us. He chose to pursue us. The response of our heart should be one of worship and one of love and return. We learn to love the Lord. We love what God loves. What God loves is people because God gave his life for them.
It starts to play on this idea that when God does this work on our heart, we begin to love one another. God then calls us in that to keep loving each other. Don’t stop. To be a community where we experience the transformation of what Jesus wants to do in us and through us together. We need one another in order to demonstrate what it calls us to in this verse. This verse is all about community. What we do with one another today matters in the idea of eternity and what God wants to do in each other’s heart. We love. And love’s an interesting word in our culture.
Oftentimes we love because of what we can get. But Jesus, in his love didn’t, didn’t give because he needed anything. He loved because of the core of his being is love. It’s about, love is about giving itself away, despite of what’s received in return. God in triunity, in perfect community, experiences the love between Father, Son and Spirit, and the expression of that gives itself away. You think about the creation that God has given us. When he created all of this, he created it to serve it. That’s what he did. He became flesh. He served it all.
Being the king of all things, he demonstrates what love is really about. It’s not sitting on your throne and pretending to just lord over things, but becoming flesh and getting beneath us and serving. That’s love. In fact, at the end of Jesus’ life, he says love as I have loved you. Here we see this king in all of his authority becoming subject to humanity, to the point that he serves them. He washes their feet in the upper room.
The lowest of servants in society, and that carries in the attitude of service, all the way to the cross and the greatest expression of love that’s been experienced. I don’t know that this is very important for us today, but it just, just for fun, if you ever want to dive deeper into scripture, the beauty of scripture is that you can really go back to original language, into the Greek. I even brought word pictures to teach you this.
In Greek this is actually, this Hebrew sentence that we, or this Greek sentence that we’re reading is six words, but in Greek it’s only three. Excuse me. In Greek it’s only three. It’s meno philadelphia meno. Right? It was painful for me to put a picture of Philadelphia up there, but I thought about putting Rocky there instead. So you Philadelphia fans can celebrate your Super Bowl last year, there you go. Meno philadelphia meno.
You can go around and just impress your friends today. I live according to meno philadelphia meno. But, it’s letting love continue. Here’s the really unique thing about this statement. Oftentimes we’ll say love is a verb. It needs action. That’s true. Love is a verb. But in this Greek passage here, this word love is more than a verb. It’s actually a noun. How in the world is love a noun?
When you read on Desiring God’s website, I added a little bit to this so it didn’t confuse anybody. I thought the first two words here make love, would just sidetrack everyone. Making the word love is what we’re talking about, right? Making the word love only a verb will likely make us Pharisees. Because just like you can talk loving without really loving, you can act loving without really loving. That’s what Paul meant when he said, “If I give away all I have and deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13.
We can look like we’re fulfilling and still not love. We said it a different way, 1 Corinthians 13, “If we served and sacrificed and we were even beat up for the Lord but it came from an act that looked loving but not a true heart of love, what use is it?” It’s what Paul is saying here. When we use the word love as a noun, it’s getting us to recognize that it’s more than just action. There’s a deeper identification to what love is, and when you think about when God is loving towards you, that action of love is at the very core of his being.
It doesn’t just say God loves, but in 1 John chapter 4, it tells us that God is love. His very nature in itself is loving. The act of love is more, is an expression of the identity of who he is. So with the church community, we’re called to reflect that. To love at the core of who we are. When people think about God’s community, some of the characteristics that should identify and associate with who we are. Though we may not agree with everyone in society, we love them deeply. We’re people of love.
In Acts chapter 2, when the early church received the Spirit of God, it tells us at the very end of chapter 2, all the things that they were doing with one another, breaking bread spending time together, involved in the teaching of the apostles and sharing with one another as each had need. It said at the very end of chapter 2, and the Lord kept adding to their number day by day, those who were being saved.
The extent of the love by which they demonstrated with each other became contagious to the society around them. They longed for what these people in this God-centered community were experiencing with each other. So when we think about love, we’re commanded to love. Sometimes people will say, well it doesn’t feel authentic to love, so we got to keep it real. But what’s being identified with us in this verse of love is that love is a fruit of the Spirit. It tells us that in Galatians chapter 5, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness. When God’s Spirit indwells us, it is the natural fruit of who you are because it’s at the core of your being when you belong to Jesus.
Don’t just do love. It’s our very identity as his community. Therefore we demonstrate it. Love continues to love, especially when it’s difficult to love because biblical love is about giving itself away for the benefit of someone else, regardless of what we receive in return. It’s sacrificial. It’s unconditional, for the well being of others. We don’t have to wait to feel love, but to understand that God calls us to love.
On the back end of that, we hope that we experience the emotional joy of what love truly is, but love is deeper than an emotion. Love is deeper than an action. But externally those things and internally those things can be experienced as we live out the core of our identity as God’s people. We oftentimes say this. Because the fruit of the Spirit is love, look guys, anyone can love when it’s easy to love. But it’s God’s people that love when it’s difficult to love.
We’ve shared this in the last couple of weeks. We’ve talked about political things that happened within our culture, but the power of the gospel is so good that in our lives, even when we disagree with people … All the political things that are happening and you may choose one side of the fence or the other in all of that, but God calls us to still care about both people involved and understand that the gospel can pierce into the darkness in either side of any situation. It’s that powerful.
It’s on that platform of pursuing people and caring about people that we find the opportunity to speak into their lives the truth that sets them free in Christ because it’s the way Jesus spoke his truth into our lives, by coming and serving and giving himself to us. James says “The Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” We ask the question, how can we love in this way? We see God’s identity being compassionate, full of mercy. It says in Matthew 9 of Jesus, seeing the people, felt compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.
Then in Philippians 2 it calls us like this, as God’s people, “Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love. If there is a fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete God says by being of the same Spirit, maintaining the same love, united in Spirit, intent on one purpose” This is what we’re working together as a community. Then a response and a compassionate act, he says this, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.” It’s the heart of service.
In Titus chapter 3, Paul reminds us this way, that “We ourselves were sinful, needing rescued in Christ,” and an understanding of where we were apart from Jesus, it then helps us to have compassion for the need of others around us. God’s doing a work in all of us. His gospel’s designed to cure the darkness. What Jesus is saying in this scenario for us as his people, he’s calling us into community and calling us to make ourselves uncomfortable in community for the benefit of one another.
Let me say it like this. If you’re a part of ABC for an extended period of time, and you don’t have a friend or maybe you’ve only got one friend, can I encourage you to make this a challenge to your life? To invest in the communities that brotherly love can continue? I know sometimes we hear the words love and we look, sometimes we come into a church setting and we can throw out excuses, well no one’s loving me, things like that, but can I tell you what this passage is saying to us individually as people? Love. Forsake yourself for just a minute in what you’re not getting, for a moment and just consider what God wants to do in the lives and the hearts of people around you.
Use yourself as that platform to encourage that believer or that person to become all that God has called them to be. So when God talks about loving in this world or experiencing his love in this world, the greatest place that God can work is in you to impact someone else, because you out of all creation, you are the one that’s designed in his image. Being designed in his image can give the verbal expression or the glory that’s due his name because of what he’s done in your heart. You’re the greatest mouthpiece to encourage someone else in the pursuit of God.
Jesus accorded this for us as a, well I didn’t even put it up here. Jesus said in Matthew chapter, or excuse me, John chapter 13, verse 34 and 34, “Love one another as I have loved you. This is a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you and others will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” When Jesus calls this a new commandment, loving people is not a new commandment. So Jesus says, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you. That you also love one another and others will know that you are my disciples by love for one another.”
Loving is not a new commandment. But what makes this commandment new is one we’re able to now experience a more intimate relationship with God because of what he’s done for us, and two, we’ve seen the extent of his love. He’s given his life. When Jesus makes that statement, he just finished washing the feet of the disciples. That is the lowest position of a servant in Jesus’ day. Love one another as I have loved you. That’s a colorful statement, isn’t it? Do I do that? Do I forsake myself for the benefit of the body so that we can be the light that God has called us to be in this community.
Love to the steps of, so when you think kingdom mentality, it’s not me first and selfishness, but it’s about giving one another away. And look guys. When we care for the body this way and the body learns to emulate that because of the way you’re demonstrating those actions, then the body responds and we find all of our needs cared for, not because we’re thinking about self, but because we’re letting go of self for each other’s sake.
We need community. The soul longs for community. So you see that in light of the gospel, I’ve got to move on from there, but let me just say this. Guys, when we live out this way in our society, it’s contagious and a godly church living this verse out becomes a place that’s messy. Sometimes we think about biblical theology and following God. We think about it religiously, get rid of sin. We got to all just walk around like this and perfect and everything’s got to bed one right. Like, when you love the way Jesus loves, you understand that what Jesus has done in your is powerful and you’re not afraid of the darkness and you pierce through the darkness and you go into the mess and you invite people in because that’s where they find healing in Jesus. So a good godly church is a messy place.
We don’t want to grab hold of the mess and become a part of it, but we want to encourage in the light of Jesus because he’s what’ transforms. We love people where they’re at because we’ve been there. We, if we’re honest, sometimes we’re still there. A lot of times we’re still there, right? So then he goes on in verse 2 and he starts sharing more about this kingdom and he says this really great verse. I love this passage of scripture.
He says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,” and here comes the crazy part. “For by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” I’ll talk about that second part in a second, right, but it’s intended to make you really nervous like you didn’t love on someone you’re supposed to love and it was probably an angel and you blew your only opportunity man. That’s not what it’s saying. But, this is what he says. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers. Love that way of thinking.
The idea of hospitality in the New Testament is almost predominantly used for strangers. How you treat strangers. God cares about the way you treat people, passing through people just throughout your day. Hospitality to strangers. I know sometimes in church people argue. Was the church intended to reach unbelievers? So is service on Sunday supposed to be evangelistic or is service about discipling the believers? People get in arguments over that stuff. It’s not evangelistic. It’s about believers.
Anyway, it goes across the board, but I want to tell you, I think it’s both/and. Here’s why. Because if a church does what it’s supposed to do, it trains its people to reach the people in this world. So the way that we do that is we help us think evangelistically on Sunday morning, caring about every soul we encounter. So we do that, not only just by teaching but by the way we emulate serving out here as a church family.
When disciples do what disciples do, we reach the lost. When you look at Jesus in his early ministry, when he walked in the temple, Jesus walked in the temple and he whipped people with whips. You read angry Jesus. You ever see those in the gospel. It’s like I don’t like that. What is this? Most of the time you see holy people and Jesus they just walk around like this. I love you. You pat them on the head. I love you, and all of a sudden, he just, whip. It’s crazy Jesus. Where is that coming from?
Well when you study Jesus in the temple during that time, outside of the temple there are the temple courts. That’s literally the place for the Gentiles. But what the Jews had done was they made it a place for trading and selling goods, so that when people gathered on Jewish holidays, what they would do is they would take all these lambs and they would jack up the price 20 times more than if they bought it outside of the city, and they would charge people. They would just gouge them in prices.
It became such a market that Gentiles that wanted to be around this temple, the didn’t even felt welcome. They were pressed out, and Jesus got ticked. He said, “My house,” in that passage, “My house is to be called a house of prayer for the nations.” So God wants to create a space for people to come in and just learn what he’s about. He’s given his life for that. So everything that we do is important. When you think about hospitality, this has to do with the treating of strangers. This is so significant for the church that when you read qualifications for church leaders, in Titus chapter 1, 1 Timothy chapter 3, Paul writes for Timothy and Titus, qualifications for leaders.
He doesn’t list everything. Paul’s not like I’m going to make an exhaustive list of everything a godly leader needs to have. He doesn’t do that. He just makes a list that gives us a general idea of what a godly leader should look like. But on both lists, both lists, you find the word hospitality. God cares about the way we treat everyone.
How do you treat outsiders? Those that may not be a part of your community? Now in the early church, traveling wasn’t safe. There wasn’t like the Ritz Carlton down the street. When you traveled, oftentimes if you could even find an inn to stay in, most of the time, it was a place that you did not want your family there. You’re lucky if you got out without catching fleas. They just weren’t, they weren’t good places. Traveling, it was common to be robbed, so people would travel in larger groups.
So hospitality, this is talking about in the home. Bringing people off the streets into the home because they knew the other places they might have to stay if they had to travel weren’t safe. So Christian community would take care of people. Now I’m not saying you need to invite every stranger into your house. In fact, if you read Colossians chapter 4, it says, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom towards outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
What it’s saying is this. Look, if you’re thinking about hospitality, and it’s the middle of summer and someone’s hanging outside your house in a ski mask, no one would invite them in, right? So there’s wisdom to how you apply hospitality. But understand everybody you interact with in life is an opportunity to be a life in this kingdom, for the Lord. What Jesus wants to do.
I think that’s where the next verse comes in, the second half of this verse. For by this, some have entertained angels without knowing it. What does that mean? I will tell you and I would even encourage you. You want to go home today, read a commentary on this. Most commentaries are going to tell you it’s literally angels. Angels are just popping up randomly and you don’t even know, right? They’re just there.
Now think about that in scripture right? In the Old Testament when people encountered angels, how many people didn’t realize they were encountering angels? Seems like most of the time when people encountered angels, maybe for a second, they didn’t realize this was an angel, but after a second, when you read the stories, almost everyone immediately recognized angels. So is this literally saying you don’t recognize angels?
People look at this verse and it’s like yes, it’s angels. Then they’ll go back to Genesis chapter 18, and they’ll use a passage with Abraham encountering angels. Say yes, then we see angels all the time. Everyone, you’re going to have an opportunity in your life to experience angels. Maybe. Maybe. I don’t know. I mean it could mean that, but I’ll tell you what I think it means.
I think this word angel, when it translates, literally it means messenger. Sometimes like in Galatians chapter 4, verse 14, Paul’s called an angel or a messenger. So angels don’t always mean angels like you think angels with a little halo and some flapping wings. That’s not, that’s not always what it means in scripture. It literally just means messenger. Sometimes God sends messengers. Sometimes we’re messengers. Like sometimes they’re angelic messengers and sometimes it’s humanly messengers.
I think in Hebrews what it’s saying is as you entertain people, as you care for them, it’s not that you’re going to experience this angel, which it could be. It could be. You maybe experience an angel unaware, which I think is rare in scripture. I think most people when they encounter angels realize, that’s a unique looking thing there. What is this? It’s … I don’t know. But what you could be entertaining is messengers of Christ. You could be inviting people in that are traveling through the Roman world right now, proclaiming the gospel and not even realize it and you’re helping the gospel.
Or you could be inviting someone in who God’s been working on their heart to share the truth of who he is. He’s just using you now as that opportunity to speak into their lives. How do you treat those that don’t run with your tribe, the outsiders, right? Do you even give a space? In Christian communities sometimes, we get so ingrained in a bubble that you just kind of forget about a world out there. God’s called you. God’s called us to seek them. Do you know, 75% of people that are asked, invited to come to church by a friend, attend? Do you know most people that stay in a community, stay because they were already friends with someone that was a part of a church.
I love using internet. I love inviting people. I love whatever format we can get people in our doors, but do you know the most effective way? It’s you. If we’re serious about what God wants to do in people in this world around us, you’re the most effective way. So hospitality becomes an important part for us in demonstrating a love for the Lord. I love the story of Nehemiah. I’ll share this an move on.
The story of Nehemiah, Nehemiah, chapter 1, he lives with the king. He’s got everything he needs in life, and he’s outside of Jerusalem. He asks how Jerusalem is doing because the Jews have been conquered by the Babylonians and the Medo-Persians are now in control. Nehemiah asks how everybody back in Jerusalem’s doing, and he finds out they’ve just been devastated. What does Nehemiah do? It tells us in Nehemiah chapter 1, verse 3, 4, 5, he weeps. He cries. He fasts. He prays. His heart longs for those strangers that he hadn’t met.
So much so that he joins them. He leaves his luxurious life to go be a part of theirs. So God calls us in hospitality to walk into darkness and to be a light for Christ. Then, if I just move on from here. It goes further, it says, “Remember the prisoners as though in prison with them and those who are ill-treated since you yourself are also in the body of Christ.” Here’s a real test to see how loving we are.
How well do you love people that you have nothing to gain from? That’s what this verse is? You think, people are being thrown in prison because of their pursuit of Jesus at this point, because of the persecution in the early church, and associating with those people in jail could get you in trouble. They don’t have anything to gain by going there. Same is true for us though.
How do you treat people you have nothing to gain from? James calls it, in James chapter 1 and verse 27, “Pure and undefiled religion is this. The way that you care for widows and orphans.” Why? You have nothing to gain from that. They don’t have anything to give you. What’s an orphan going to do? But when God’s love so impacts your life, you want to let that out in this world and let other people experience the love of God through you.
I’m doing this because of what Jesus has done in me. God loves you. He calls you his own. He invites you to his kingdom. He makes all things new in him. That’s all we know. You think about the grocery store clerk. The person that gave you the wrong order, the guy in front of you that just cut you off. What are you going to do? How do you treat people that you have nothing to gain from? We use this last, a couple years ago at men’s retreat, when we were talking to parents or men about their children.
If you think about, especially your daughter, how do you know your daughter’s going to marry a good, godly guy? The most important decisions you make in life, who is your God, and who will you marry? All right. Just because you find a guy that says I’m a Christian, I love Jesus, doesn’t mean that they really live that out in their lives. So how do you know. Well you watch how they treat people they have nothing to gain from. How they treat the awkward kind in the circle. How do they treat the ostracized individual or the common person they come in contact with?
He moves on from there, and then he starts to share something interesting here. In verse 4 to 6, and then I’m going to jump to these last three verses and then we’ll be done with this morning, but he jumps to these next few verses, and he’s going to start contrasting something very unique. Verses 4, 5, and 6, start talking about a different way of looking how we live our lives. It seems like the author went a little bit crazy but let me reel this in for you. Let me just read the first part of verse 4 and half of verse 5.
It says, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all and the marriage bed is to be undefiled, for fornicators and adulterers, God will judge. Make sure that your character is free from the love of money. Being content with what you have.” Then in verse 6, let me just add this. He says, “For he himself said, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, so that we confidently say the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What will men do to me?”
So verse 4 and 5, he starts talking about fornication, adultery and greed. Then he makes an even creepier leap and he says, in the middle of that, “God is watching everything that you do.” Right? So be loving. Don’t fornicate. Don’t be greedy and God watches you. In a religious mind, this is how you’ll hear it. Okay, first three verses. I really need to love, I don’t need to be doing fornicate, adultery, greed because God is watching me, right?
But the hope is, in between verses 1 and 3, and verse 4 to 6, you see a gospel oriented, kingdom-focused life. See in order to live the way verses 1 to 3 communicate, you have got to have an identity in Jesus. You have got to love Jesus because without a true love for the Lord, we’re going to see ourselves as God and idolize ourselves and not give ourselves away to the extent it calls us in a sacrificial love of the first three verses.
In verses 4 to 5 it’s contrary to Jesus, so let me just explain this to us for a just a moment, what this passage is actually talking about. It’s more of a testing now in our lives, of recognizing the battle that takes place. So it starts off marriage is it to be held in honor among all and the marriage bed is to be undefiled.
So what he’s saying is, there is this beauty of what marriage is and he lists what is contrary to this honoring marriage, which is fornication and adultery, but he’s saying to us here that there will be this war against marriage, but marriage is to be held in the highest honor, what God has created it for. The marriage bed is undefiled.
This is what it’s saying now to us, is okay. God wants you to honor marriage, and look. God made marriage fun. Because the marriage bed is undefiled. So in the terms of marriage, God created sex and sexuality. Enjoy yourselves, right? Enjoy that. No one said amen. Okay. That’s good.
But I thought, okay we’re not an amen bunch but if ever there was one, it was going to be there. So enjoy that, right? Sometimes we think about, we see this word fornication and adultery. I can tell you in some aspects of the early church, people went crazy with this. Man, that’s where you start seeing hermits and monks. Hermits literally mean desert dwellers. These people would try to … I wish I had time to tell you how we got the Bible in Latin for 1100 years, but it had to do with a guy who couldn’t curb his sexual drive, because he was living as a hermit, right?
But God created, God created sexuality to be enjoyed, and he wants you to enjoy that intimacy in a particular way. He talks about that in marriage, but then he goes a little further and says, he says that fornicators and adulterers, God will judge and to be free from greed of the love of money. Now, I want us to know, sometimes we hear these words and sometimes we have a checkered past. We look at these words and we feel like we’re being beat over the head, but in Christ, guys, God forgives.
God makes all things new. So these words aren’t here to just guilt you and walk out in shame, but to understand that you belong to something entirely different. This is not about, okay now go love because you’re not being loving enough and stop doing this fornicating stuff, you know. Anytime you say it in southern accent terms, it’s way better. Fornicators, right. Don’t be none of those guys. That’s not what this is saying. This is an entire reorientation of your entire life. The pursuit of your heart.
It’s not about, I was doing this and now I’m not going to do this anymore. So I guess God will like me. It’s about, this is a lifestyle that identifies with someone that lives life about themselves and now you’re not about that because you belong to a kingdom and a king, and he has called you into that kingdom and he makes you his own and now you belong and rule and reign with him. Now live in that identity.
It’s not about what you’re not doing. That’s religious mentality. It’s about who you are in Jesus. So he starts to use these words of fornication and adultery and greed because these are identities of where our flesh battles. Money, sex, power, fame. So he wants us to see where our lives are oriented. Where is the pursuit of your heart. So if you think about what is greed exactly? Well greed, it’s about self. It’s self-focused. Your idol is wealth and possession for your pleasure. And a greedy person loves things and uses people. Rather than use things and loving people.
They horde things to themselves because it’s all about their pleasure to the detriment of others. Here’s the deceiving thing with greed. Sometimes we’ll do things to please ourselves, to make ourselves feel better, right? Like I’m not greedy because when I go out to Wal-Mart and I check out, I donate my remaining cents to Children’s Primary Hospital, which makes me a giving person. That’s not what it’s saying with greed. Rather what it’s saying is this.
How do you steward the things that you have in life, because hear truthfully. Nothing you have truly belongs to you. Nothing you own belongs to you. It’s God’s. God created everything in this world. He just allowed a certain amount of those things to pass through your hands. You don’t own it. You steward it. One day you’ll meet him face to face, accountable for it. What did you do with the things that you own? I got to move on from there, but sexuality and fornication and adultery’s the same thing. We can justify that, right?
But fornication and adultery, what is it about? About it’s about taking the things that God created in this world and it’s about your pleasure to the expense of someone else. Fornication and adultery, it’s about using someone else as a tool, diminishing their image, as being created in the image of God for just your personal pleasure. When that happens in our lives it diminishes you in the value you are, because you only see yourselves in terms of sexuality and pleasure, making yourself to be God and God created you for more than that. It diminishes someone else. In terms of adultery, it affects your relationship with your souse and it diminishes that relationship and it hurts your relationship with the Lord.
Why? Because the focus of life was you, and your kingdom. Then he ends with this, and I need to close here. God’s got a bigger purpose for your life than to live simply for just what pleases you. That doesn’t ultimately satisfy. God cares about what you do with yourself, with your power, with your possessions, because really guys, it reveals our heart. What does our heart long for? What does our heart love? His kingdom or mine?
Then in verse 5 and 6, he says, I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you, so that we confidently say, the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What will men do to me? This can be a creepy verse if you think in religious terms. I need to love more and I’m not loving enough. There’s fornication, adultery and greed. Something my heart wrestles with, maybe not just these things but something I wrestle with and now God’s near me. Oh my word. It’s like Zeus going to strike me down, right? But at the end of this, this is actually a promise. This is a promise intended to encourage.
Sometimes we use words like greed fornication and adultery. We may not connect with those, but let me tell you. Especially in our society that’s more religiously, more morality driven, but let me tell you what this passage is saying. God is calling you to let go of something. You may even define it as a good thing. Like I’m close enough to God. Let’s just leave well enough alone. God isn’t calling you to good things. God is calling you to God things. Sometimes we let go of the familiarity that we think is good to grab a hold of something that, on the back end of that, may look way more fearful to us. It may look like it’s going to cost us, but it’s worth it.
Why? He will never leave you nor forsake you. God I don’t want to let go. God, can I just hold on to this idol? God can I make this about me and my kingdom. God isn’t what I’ve got right now just good enough? If I just step into you, there’s risk there. He says so. I’m with you. I am with you. This could be such a fearful, faithful thing. Look at what he says, “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What will men do with me?” Guys when I think about this in my own life, like if I’m just being honest, I do not like the spotlight.
I was never a person that likes to get in front of people and say things. This is weird that I’m even in ministry. I think about the steps of my own life. Like, moving across the country, wife and family living dirt poor for several years, and we’re just slightly above that now, you know. Just, and even joking about one day just having an office. Then we bought this building. This building, I don’t know how many days I stayed up late. Like, let’s do a week of no sleep because this feels so stressful, but what are you stepping in?
God is with me. I remember very early on in my Christian life, I just read through the Bible. I got to the book of Joshua and I see Joshua leading the people of Israel. Joshua’s afraid, and God says this statement, “Have I not commended you, be strong and of good courage, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” What do you live for? This kingdom of faith? This kingdom of light or the kingdom of self? The idea that God is being with you is the hope for us in our faith, to take that step in him because of what he has done.