Saying the word ‘no’ can be a problem for lots of us. The phone request, the email, the text message and the person who grabs your arm as you leave the meeting because they want you to join their team, attend their event, help with a project they’re planning or see if you’re free in the next week for a coffee and chat. Immediately we feel bad because we realise refusing this person is going to make them disappointed and so rather than reply negatively we bow to the demand, attend the event, turn up at the meeting or arrange a coffee that we’d really rather not drink! We fool ourselves into thinking that saying yes all the time is the “Christian thing to do” and that we’re being very selfish when we say no to the requests.
This is wrong. There, I’ve said it. Saying yes to all these requests is not a selfless thing to do it’s a selfish thing to do. We say yes because we don’t want to disappoint people. I agree to do stuff so that other people will like me. Our motivation for agreeing to requests is often rooted in a desire to have other people think highly of us. In the Sermon on The Mount [that we’ve been looking at in Carnmoney recently] Jesus instructs His followers not to be preoccupied with what people think of them. He makes it clear that the life motivated by pride is rewarded by people but the life motivated by humility is rewarded by heaven. Martin Lloyd Jones puts it like this
There is no reward from God for those who seek it from men.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:1 Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
For God’s glory and your own joy – feel free to say ‘no’
You can listen to the full message on Matthew 6 by clicking here
You might remember the McCain’s Oven Chip advert from years ago, the one when the little girl wrestles with the question: “which do I prefer? Daddy or Chips..” She eventually concludes ‘chips’ because at the dinner table her dad steals one of them!
This morning at Carnmoney we were thinking about preaching as part of a series we’ve been following to help us understand what worship is all about. We’ve looked at things like congregational singing, prayer, the sacraments (communion & baptism) and today it was my turn to answer the question:
Why do we have preaching?
Basically all of us face the ‘Daddy or Chips’ type of question every day. We struggle to decide what we love most. Our choices reveal to others what our priorities are and we need help to get things in the right order. I believe that this is where preaching comes in. Preaching exists to fill us up with love for Jesus. If we love Him most then we will make the right choices, our desire will be to obey Him because the temporary rewards of sin will lose their appeal. Preaching is proclaiming / heralding the good news of who God is and what He’s done for us.
Paul says to the Romans that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” God has planned that the way faith in Jesus comes to us is through hearing the word of Christ. So preaching is vital for the health of individual Christians and the local church.
John Calvin said that..
when preachers speak – the voice of Jesus resounds.
Augustine said that..
when the Bible speaks – God speaks.
So then preaching is a huge privilege and a humbling responsibility. It’s main aim is to expose people to the love God has for them and to fill them up with love for Jesus. This is not always an easy thing to do but we have plenty of encouragement from God.
Below is a clip from Bryan Chapell who has had a big influence on my thinking in this area..
(even though he has a side sweep going on!)
Every now and again I hear something on the radio that makes me want to stop in my tracks and yell ‘YES’ at the top of my voice. This usually happens on a Saturday afternoon when I realise that Sunderland are destroying United or that Rafa hasn’t rotated …
Recently however I heard Mumford and Sons sing these words
It was not your fault but mine
and it was your heart on the line
I really “messed” it up this time
(radio edit/live lounge/bad word edited/ you know what the unedited version says)
I wanted to yell ‘yes’ at the top of my voice because I connected with the raw honesty of these words as an accurate communication of the gospel message. We all have ‘messed it up’, it’s totally our fault but Jesus places His heart on the line by dying in our place on the cross. There’s real integrity in these words by Mumford that’s too often lacking in our worship songs, songs which rarely mention the fact that we are seriously ‘messed up’ by sin. I grew up singing that I should be ‘in right – out right – up right – down right – happy all the time’ because Jesus had come into my life but very rarely did I sing with honesty that I had screwed up.
Mumford & Sons have forcefully reminded me of the heart of the gospel and I pray that more worship leaders and song writers will follow their example.
2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.