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TEXT: Matthew 7:21
SUBJECT: Follow the Lamb #12: Do Something for God
Tonight brings us to Chapter 11 in our study of Follow the Lamb, a short book, written about 1840, to help young believers grow in their discipleship-to make them better followers of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The book assumes two things: first that we are saved. No one can follow Christ who is not in Christ. You come into Christ by repenting of your sins and placing your faith in Him alone. Have you done this? Not everyone who goes to church has-not even people who go to church on Wednesday night! Trying to follow Christ without first being in Christ is like trying to walk and talk, eat and drink, laugh and cry without being alive! It can't be done! Physically, you're alive. But are you alive spiritually? Have you been saved? Have you received eternal life? I know you're a nice person, but are you a converted person? If you're not, you can't follow the Lamb-even if you wanted to. Without Me, you can do nothing.
The other assumption is this: we want to follow the Lamb. Do we? Or, more to the point, do you want to follow the Lord? I know you want to go to heaven, but do you want to follow Christ? Even if it takes you outside your comfort zone? By nature and habit, we're all more comfortable in some things than in others. One brother is strong in courage, but weak in patience. A sister is good in praying for the lost, but bad in witnessing to them. Following the Lord, however, means following Him Wherever He goes-and not just into the neighborhoods you like.
Are you willing to make the friends He wants you to make-even if they're boring? Are you willing to support the church-even if it lowers your lifestyle? Are you willing to love your kids-as they are-even if they're not what you want them to be? These are examples of what it means to follow Christ or to be His disciple.
If you don't want to follow the Lamb, what do you do? Some would tell you to examine yourself, whether you're saved or not. Others would say to look into your life and find out why you don't want to follow Him! Their advice is as wrong as it can be-and also as harmful and stupid!
Here's some better counsel: If you don't want to follow Christ, follow Him anyway until you want to! Discipleship is more about obeying than feeling.
To obey is better than sacrifice
And to heed, than the fat of rams.
Speaking of obeying the Lord, Chapter 11 is titled, Do Something for God.
As I see it, doing something for God is the opposite of three other things: not doing something for God, planning to do something for God, and praying about doing something for God.
We all know the first one is wrong: disobedience is not obedience. But what about the others? Is planning a big work as good as doing a little one? Is praying for a sick friend as good as visiting him (when you can)?
To ask the question is to answer it. Doing something for God is better than not doing it, or planning it or talking about it or preaching a sermon on it or praying for it.
Some of the chapters in this book are a little obscure-to me, at least, they are. But not this one. The author says,
Do something for God. You may not be able to do much, but do something; you may not be able to give much, but give something. Don't fold your hands, or lay aside your staff or sheathe your sword. Don't give way to slothfulness. Don't say 'I can get to heaven without working'. Your gifts may be small, your time not much, your opportunities few. But work.
Every word is worth thinking about. He says, do-not think or plan or discuss or hope or feel-but act.
He says do something. He doesn't tell you what to do, for that differs from person to person and time to time. But find something to do-big, small, complicated, simple, easy, hard, that doesn't matter. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it.
Do something for God. Not for yourself; not for the credit others will give you for doing it. Do it for the One who did far more for you.
Don't fold your hands, but do something physical for God. Is the Lord served by the body as well as the soul? Sure He is. If you can't find anything 'spiritual' to do, wash the dishes for your wife! That's far better than praying that she'll have the strength to do it for you.
Don't lay aside your staff. A staff is not for runners, but for walkers. What you do doesn't have to be fast or impressive or intense. Every step brings you closer to heaven.
Don't sheathe your sword. A sword is for fighting-and you've got plenty of enemies to fight with. Fight with them! Say no to selfishness; deny your lusts; don't give in to envy or contempt for other people. When the devil hangs up his sword, you hang up yours-but not before!
Limited gifts, time, and opportunities don't matter. It's what you do with them!
In the area of doing something for God, Reformed Christians often lag behind other believers, especially the Pentecostals. I know some are busy for the sake of being busy. But even that-it seems-is better than doing nothing. Busy for the sake of business seems better than, what? Lazy for the sake of laziness?
What's the reason for this? We read the same Bible as others do-and we claim to understand it better than most. How come we're so slack at doing something for God?
The main reason, it seems to me, is that we're afraid of making a mistake. Anyone who does a lot will mess up a lot-and that's what we can't stand: messing up! But the biggest mess of all does not come from doing too much, but from doing not enough. The winningest coach in the history of college basketball is John Wooden. He always told his players, The team that makes the most mistakes usually wins. Why? Because they're trying harder than the other team. The player who is afraid of missing the last-second shot will seldom make it.
This leads to a pair of applications:
Fear doing nothing more than doing something wrong.
Let others make a mistake without you coming down on them with both feet.
Do something for God.
In the second place, Bonar explains why you ought to do something for God. There are three reasons to be active in the Lord's service.
The first reason is simple gratitude. You ought to do something for Christ because He has done so much for you.
You were neither born nor re-born for yourselves alone.
This means your whole life comes from the Lord: your physical life is His gift and so is your eternal life. If He gave you your lives, you're not to live for yourself-unless He tells you do. And He sure doesn't do that. We are not our own. Our bodies don't belong to us; our time doesn't belong to us; not even our money is ours. They all come from the Lord and are to be used for Him.
Selfishness is the most common sin in the world, and that's why it's so hard to see-because we're used to it-unless it's at an extreme. But selfishness is exposed in the light of Christ, who Laid down [His] life for the sheep.
The second reason is the shortness of your life. People die-young, old, and middle-aged. No one knows when he will die, but he knows he will. Even if you knew that you'd live strong and health for 200 years, you're life would be a short one compared to what you have to do. Bonar says,
Work while it is day.
This is a quote from the Bible. The Lord was a Man who heard the clock ticking. He had a lot to do and little time to do it, And so, He worked, hard and focused. Some of us have already outlived the Lord, but what have we done with our time? Have we frittered it away doing nothing or, maybe nothing worth doing?
I try to work hard on all my sermons. But I can tell you I work harder on Saturday night than I do on Monday morning. Because I've got less time. We all have less time than we think we do, so let's use it. Starting now.
The third reason is the reward we will have in heaven. Some Christians are nervous with that word, reward. It seems to imply earning God's favor or being above others in heaven. It means no such thing! Yet, it is in the Bible! What we do now matters forever.
The day of honor is coming, and the Master's 'Well done' will make up for all hardship and labor here.
At the moment, serving the Lord doesn't seem profitable. In our better hours, it is, but our better hours are rare. Like Asaph in the Psalm, it often seems as though we're washing our hands in vain. We're serving people who don't notice what we're doing, and if they did, they wouldn't like it.
But on the Day of Judgment, we'll see whether serving the King was time well spent or wasted! For now, we see it by faith-You know your work is not in vain. But then, we'll see it face-to-face-Well done, you good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord!
Do you want to follow the Lamb? If you do, don't stop with saying good things about Him, or reading about Him, or thinking about Him, or hoping to do a lot for Him, but Do something for God. Do it now and keep on doing it.
God bless us, everyone! For Christ's sake. Amen.
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