Craig Groeschel - You're Not as Right as You Think
Are you ready to have some fun? All right, you can't be humble. You gotta be truthful. How many of you today would say that you're probably smarter than the average person? Raise your hands. Come on, have some fun, raise your hands. Come on, come on, don't be humble. Those of you online, just type it in the chat, type it in the comments, I'm smarter than average, you can put a little smiley face by that if you want to, because I know most of you think that. You may not say it 'cause you you're in church, but most of you think it. Most of you think you're a better driver than most people. Most of you probably think you're less sinful than most people. When it comes to issues, most of you think you are more right than most people, because I've seen you in the comment section saying just how right you are about everything.
I can't speak for all of you, but I can speak for me. And I know, that I'm way above average. And I'm not bragging because it's not easy. I mean, it's hard being right all the time, because we live in a world where there are so many important issues and so many dumb people. You know what I'm talking about, right? I mean, let's just be honest. And so if you wanna know what to believe about anything, I'm here to tell you what you should believe because I am incredibly right. I'm being a little sarcastic, work with me. If you wanna know about theology, I can tell you what to believe about end times, about spiritual gifts and about women in ministry. And those of you who disagree with me, I'll show you why you're wrong.
I can show you about the right approach to the vaccine, capitalism, bearing arms, abortion, sexual and gender issues, capital, punishment. And I can even show you if it's appropriate or not to wear white pants after Labor Day. And according to this very poorly edited video, the answer would probably be no, it's not appropriate to wear white pants after Labor Day. And I would just wanna tell you, don't just sit back and bask in the glory of my brilliance because it's exhausting being right all the time. Sarcasm ended. What I wanna today, if it's okay with you is I'm gonna push you a little bit. If I don't push you or make you mad a few times a year, I'm probably not doing my job. So if it's okay that I pushed you and you just say, go ahead and push me. Just say it. You can type that in the chat, "Go ahead and push me", just type it in the chat. And just remember you asked for it.
If you don't mind today at all of our churches in the honor of the reading of God's Word, would you just stand to your feet. And I wanna give you the context of a verse, we're gonna start with today from Luke's gospel the 18th chapter, starting in the ninth verse in a context just you'll understand is Jesus was surrounded by some people. And just to kind of say it bluntly, they were a little bit like a lot of people in culture today. They were always right. They were right about everything. Their goal above anything else was to be right. We know the way, we behave the right way, we're right. They thought they were smarter. They thought they were better. They thought they were holier than everybody else. And in verse nine, Jesus told this parable, scripture says, to some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable, He said, "Two men went up to the temple to pray. One, a Pharisee and the other, a tax collector". One a Pharisee, the other, a tax collector.
Now, if you don't know about a Pharisee, a Pharisee was very outwardly righteous. They would dress the part. They would pray loud prayers in public. They followed 613 rules or laws. We as Christians would follow 10, they had a lot more than us. They were outwardly righteous. The tax collector though was outwardly despised because of his outward sinfulness. And so we have one guy this visibly righteous and one who's visibly unrighteous. Scripture says in verse 11, The Pharisee, the righteous one, stood by himself and prayed, "God, I thank you that I'm not like the other people, the robbers and the evildoers and the adulterers or even like this tax collector". And then he gives his spiritual resume for success. He says, "I fast twice a week and I give a 10th of all I get".
Verse 13, But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn't even look up to heaven, but he beat his breast and he cried out to God, "Have mercy on me, a sinner". Jesus said, "I tell you this man, the humble one, the tax collector, the unrighteous one, rather than the other went home justified before God, for all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted". What's so interesting to me about this text is that the Pharisee saw himself as right and the tax collector was wrong. He was right and the other guy was wrong. But to Jesus, it wasn't just about right and wrong, it was also about pride and humility because proud people don't love well. The title for today's talk is You're Not as Right as You Think. Let's pray.
Father, we ask today that by the power of your Word, wherever we are more right than we are loving, would you humble us God? Humble us so you could exalt us to use us to make a difference in this world. God soften our hearts to receive your love and to show your love in all we do. We pray this in Jesus name and everybody said, amen.
As you're being seated, why don't you look at the person next to you and say, ask them, are you the tax collector, or are you the Pharisee? Just ask them with a little smile on your face and go ahead and be seated. You guys are chatting up a storm. You're ready for life group. You're can have a life group right here in church, right? We're people in life group. We love to process and share God's Word. We live in a complicated time, right? I mean, it's tense out there. We're talking several weeks now in a series called No Offense and there is so much tension and so many people that are right, completely convinced on opposite sides of their rightness. And unfortunately, as Christians, if we're not careful, it's really easy for us to slip into our own rightness or our own spiritual pride, much like the Pharisee.
In fact, I would say respectfully that with all good intentions, sometimes those who are followers of Christ, we tend to think that part of our job as a Christian is to be right. That's what we're supposed to be. We're supposed to be right. We preach the truth and because we preach the truth, we are right, which is partially true. But because we are right, sometimes we get offended by those who are wrong and we can find ourselves being offended by anything they do that we think is not right. We're offended by what they post or how they vote or what they believe or how they behave. And if we live offended long enough an offense starts to settle into our heart, the offense simmers and it starts to grow. And it grows from offense to contempt. And instead of hating what someone does, if we're not careful, we start to hate who they are. Which is never a good place for a disciple of Jesus to be. But we're Christians, so we're right. We're guardians of the truth, right? We are, we are, truth matters.
But if we're not careful, since we're guardians of the truth, we may be offended by those who do wrong. And then suddenly, and suddenly we start to think that it's actually our job to assess people, not judge them, but assess them. Almost entirely different you see, because I have the authority as a Christian to assess where people are. And so if someone asked me what I think of someone, I will assess them. He's an okay guy, but he's way too into himself, or she's great at what she does, but she lets her kids run wild. It's our job to assess because we're right. We're right about theology. We're right about churches. We can become with no real theological background or training, we can be armed with enough truth to assess churches anywhere and everywhere. We know which ones are good and we know which ones are bad. And because we're right, we tell everyone that church is too shallow or that one's too boring or my church is right.
We don't teach that feel good, soft message, but we preach the unadulterated Word of God, the exegetical verse by verse teaching, just like Jesus didn't do. I'm sorry, it just came out. But we push off of others instead of being perhaps who God called us to be. We are right. Our way of doing it is right. And anyone else who doesn't do it our way has to be wrong. The Pharisee was right and he knew it. So he tells everyone else how right he is and looks down on those who are wrong. And sometimes without meaning to, we can actually do the same thing because I don't know about you, but I've got the right approach to COVID. I've got the real sources. I've done the research. I'm right. I know how people should spend their money and you do this too. "Boy, if I have money like that, I wouldn't spend it on that. That's not, I know how to spend money. I'll tell him what Bible version to read. I'll tell him how to dress and I'll tell her why she should not use that spray tan, 'cause she looks orange". Right?
We tend to think that we're the best assessors, the best judges. We are the most right. But the truth is every single one of us are sinners. We're all sinful. Our hearts, the Bible says, you wanna quote the Bible? Our hearts are wicked and very easily deceived. And as much as we may think, we're right about so much, we are often very, very wrong. And even if we are right, our approach may be wrong which discounts our rightness. Maybe if you are really, really right. What if you are more right than most? But what if you're right, but you're not loving? What if there are Christians who are right, but they're rude? What if there are Christians that are right, but they're a jerk and all they're doing is they're making a point, but they're not really making a difference. Jesus wasn't just concerned about right and wrong, He was also concerned about pride and humility. The tone matters so much. The approach matters so much.
I'll give you an example. Again, I'm entering sarcasm mode. I feel like I needed to tell you this 'cause sometimes I go there and you take me literally. So I'm entering sarcasm mode with a little bit of truth to this. I'll just play a little game. I'm gonna tell you a little bit about myself and then I'm gonna ask you if you like me and if you wanna follow Jesus more faithfully because of how amazing I am, because I need to warn you I am pretty dang amazing. So I'll just tell you that.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. Amy and I, we tithe 10% of our income and we give extravagant offerings above our tithe. We rarely watch TV MA shows because we don't wanna let that filth into our minds. When we do watch them, we watch them with a filter to take out the bad stuff. That's how holy we are. We did not have sex together before we married. I don't drink alcohol. And I haven't smoked marijuana since college, and it was only two times I was too drunk to even remember. That's how drunk I was. I eat a high protein, low carb diet. I work out five days a week. I take my wife on weekly date sometimes too and I pay off my credit card every single month. So I would ask you, do you like me? Do you wanna follow Jesus because of how holy I am? We have to understand is this, that people aren't drawn to Christ by our moral superiority. They're not drawn to Christ by how right we are. Just because we're right it doesn't mean that we're making a difference.
And by the way, before you hate me for my righteousness, we didn't have sex before we were married, but we did struggle a lot. We were tempted. We moved the wedding day up three times just to make it easier. And I might have watched "Breaking Bad" all the way through, which is the best series and worst series of all time, and Amy is still mad at me about it. So there's that. Is that too much? Does that offend you? Because you can get mad at me and judge me all you want. You can assess me, but I'll tell you right now, I am not perfect. Like that's not even the bad stuff. I saved the bad stuff for life group. I'm not giving it to the whole church here. I am not perfect at all. And Jesus, He is the only one who's perfect.
Let me say it again because some point you may want to respond. I don't know about this crowd, but someone in Wellington, Florida might, someone in Nebraska might, someone online might wanna say, amen. Jesus is the only one who is perfect. He's sinless. And what's fascinating about Jesus is though He was without sin, He drew sinful people to himself. Though He was perfect in every way, those who were very imperfect, full of darkness and secrets and sinfulness, they felt drawn to Him. I'll give you four examples. Jesus went to parties where sinners flocked to Him, enjoyed His company and loved being with Him. Second example would be this, that there was a prostitute, so moved by the love and the grace and the glory of Jesus that she knelt down at His feet to worship Him by pouring very expensive oil and perfume upon Him.
Another example would be the fact that there was a tax collector, hated and despised a man who would have stolen from his own to give the money to the Roman government who would then use the money to go and kill or punish his own, who didn't follow the Roman government. And Jesus came over to this guy's house for dinner. There was a woman who couldn't seem to hold a relationship together, went from bed to bed, man to man and Jesus spent time loving her and offering her what she was looking for, a living water that would fill that which was empty on the inside. He was perfect and without sin, and yet He drew sinful people to himself. Why do you think that sinful broken people wanted to be around Jesus? The answer is because Jesus didn't make them feel wrong, Jesus made them feel loved.
In fact, I wanna read to you what I would consider to be perhaps maybe the most important verse in the New Testament as to how we should treat other people, is from John's gospel, John chapter 13. And before we get to the main part, I actually want you to embrace the context of what was going on when Jesus talked about how we should love one another. So we'll start in verse one of John 13 to get the context. Scripture says that Jesus knew that the hour would come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. So if you can imagine He has been faithful to God and He's now preparing to give His life on the cross. And He knows the clock is ticking coming toward this moment. Scripture says having loved His own, who were in the world. I love this, what did he do? He loved them till the end. How did He do that?
They're sitting around a table or on the ground, probably kneeling having a very intimate supper, the last meal together and they're eating and Jesus gets up and shocks everyone there. As he takes off his outer robes and goes, puts on a slave's apron, a servant's apron, and He kneels down to the disciples and does something that shocks them. He starts to wash their feet. Something that only a slave would do. And He loves them in the most humble serving act. They're shaken, they're stunned, they're rattled. He goes back to eating and He says, "One of you will betray me". And Judas realizes it's him. And Jesus says, "What you must do, go and do quickly". And Judas leaves the others and goes off to betray Jesus.
This is the context when He says what I'm about to read you is His last meal with His best friends. He knows the suffering that's about to come. He is loving and serving them with the most sacrificial, humble act of all to wash the dirt off their feet. And while He is being betrayed by one of His closest friends, he says this, "My children," The word in the Greek translate it as my children, it's the only time Jesus used this word is the word teknia, and it's a relational term. What I like about this is every other time he's Jesus, the man, he's a friend. And now he's God, the Father in the presence of the Son and suddenly the term is my children. His tone is different. He says, "I'll be with you only a little longer. I'm about to give my life," He says. "You'll look for me and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now, hey, where I'm gonna go, you can't come". And then he says, "A new command I give to you".
The word in the Greek for new, it means fresh. It means not worn out. And in this context, when he says it, when He loves them to the end, I want you to feel the power of the words in the context of knowing He's going to give us life, of knowing He just washed their feet and knowing He was just betrayed. He said, "Love one another as I have loved you, as I'm loving you right now in this way, in this manner, in this style, in this context, as I have loved you, so you must love one another". And this is beautiful, "By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another". How will they know if we love Jesus? How will they know if we follow Him? How will they know that we're His disciples? They won't know we're His disciples, by what we're against. They won't know we're His disciple by how we vote or by what we post or by how right we are. They will know that we belong to Jesus by the way that we love them.
So why do we often not love others the way Jesus loved us? Why do we not love others in this way? The answer could be because we're too busy being right. We're too busy being right. Jesus was concerned with right and wrong. He was also concerned with pride and humility because when we start with the prideful stance, that I'm right, we have a very negative cycle that takes place. If our posture is I'm right, I'm right. I'm right, I have the truth, I'm always right. The first thing we feel is morally superior because we are right and the other losers are wrong because I feel morally superior, then it's very easy to become judgmental of those who are not right, of those who are different, of those who are wrong. And because I feel superior and I'm judgmental, it's easy to become angered and offended, which unfortunately is where so many people live today.
And that's exactly the opposite of what Jesus was. Think about it. Jesus was the most right and least judgmental person that ever lived. He was the most right. He was perfect and yet He was the least judgmental. In fact, we talked a couple of weeks ago about the beautiful story of the woman who was caught in adultery. Let's name the players in this story. There were the Pharisees who were technically right and there was the woman who was completely wrong. She had sinned along with another man that's not mentioned, but we'll leave him out of this for some reason we don't know why. The Pharisees were right, the woman was wrong. And so Jesus said, "If you've never ever sin to the Pharisees, you have the right to judge her. You can throw the first stone. But if you have sinned, you have no right to judge her".
So think about it. Jesus had never sinned. He was the only one who hadn't sinned. So He had the right to judge her, but He didn't. What did He do? He wrote something in the sand and the men started walking away. We don't know why, but tradition tells us perhaps He was writing down their sins, which I think is really funny. "Here's what you did, you lost it. I'm out of here, see you guys. I'm going back to lunch. Think of something else to do, okay". Jesus never sinned. The men left one by one. And Jesus looked at the woman who was wrong. The woman who had sinned. And he said, "Where are those who came to condemn you"? And she said, "They're not here". And so he looked at her and he said, "Neither do I condemn you, go your way," Now here's truth. He said, "Go your way and sin no more". It was truth overwhelmed with love.
Now I wanna ask you, what do you think that woman felt? When she was wrong and yet He treated her that way. What do you think she felt? She felt valued. She felt seen. She felt loved in spite of her sin because His heart was different. Jesus is concerned with right and wrong, He's also concerned with pride and humility. And here's the different imposter. If we start with the idea that I'm right, we feel morally superior. We become judgmental and we're easily angered and offended. But instead out of humility, if we start with the idea that I'm forgiven, we feel profound with gratitude. And our gratitude then leads us to becoming more accepting of those who may even be wrong or maybe different. And because we're more accepting, we're overflowing with love. And we continue with a posture of forgiveness and gratitude and love and grace. And instead of being right and ineffective, we can be humble, we can be loving. We can still share the truth, but do it in an effective way because we don't change people by judging them, but by loving them.
Now, I told you I was gonna push it and I'm gonna push it. I'm gonna tell you a story that is risky for me to tell. Some of you may be like, "It's no big deal at all". And that's fine, some of you are like, "I'm leaving the church, I can't believe you did this". What I did is something that I had never done before, and I've never done again and I'm proud of what I'm gonna tell you. I'm just gonna tell you what happened. I was at a jujitsu class and I had a training partner that I hadn't met before. He was way better than I was. And he was just cool. He was coaching me. And we were laughing. He had me wrapped up and he was telling me jokes. And he was awesome. And the class ended he said, "Hey, you wanna roll a couple more rounds"? I said, "Sure, let's do it". And he said, "By the way, what do you do for a living"? And I said, "Well, I'm a pastor".
And the moment I told him that his countenance changed and he looked scared. He said, "Oh my gosh". He said, "I'm not religious". I'm like, "Yeah, it doesn't matter, you're pretty dang good on the mats". And he said, "I'm just, I'm not religious". Then he said, "I don't know how to roll with a pastor". I'm like, "You're doing a pretty good job for the last 30 minutes, I think you're okay". And what I noticed is in the next round, he tightened up, he was going easy on me. I snuck up on him and I submitted him. He was much better, but I submitted him. And then he said a bad word. It was what I call lower cheer, bad word, just in case you're wondering. And I know you're gonna wonder what it was. And so I'm actually gonna kind of tell you what he said. The word that he said starts with D and it rhymes with rammit. You got it? You got it, nod. Okay, good, that's what he said. And the moment he said it, his countenance just completely changed. And he cowered and stepped back.
This guy who could whip me every which way looked afraid of me all of a sudden. And he put his hands up and said, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm such a bad person. I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry". And it wasn't just like appropriate, respectful apology. It was like guilt and shame, dark shame in the moment. All these thoughts flooded into my mind. I thought, who in the world rejected him, pushed him away, held him to a standard that he had never agreed to? And so he said the D word. And in a moment, I just said, "I don't give a," And I said, the D word back. Now, just in my defense, that word is actually in the Bible, so... And again, I'm not bragging and I'm not even saying I should have done it. But in that moment, I felt like it was an unusual way to love him. And when I said, "I don't give a," the D word, he looked back and he just melted.
And I said, "Look, man, I said a lot worse in my day, I'm not gonna judge you for that. I just want you to know Jesus has forgiven me of so, so, so much. And God loves you exactly as you are. And to be honest, I think you're pretty cool too". And his eyes watered up and the guy just reached over. I barely knew him. And he gave me the biggest hug you've ever seen, which is a little bit awkward because we were both wearing spandex, but that was the way it went down. And I'm not sure what God would think about the word, but I know what he would think about the love. Because we rarely help someone by judging their sins, but we might help them by loving them and pointing them to the one who forgives their sins.
It was the Apostle Paul who said this, "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I'm only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. And if I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and have the faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I'm nothing. If I give all, I possess to the poor and give my body over to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I have nothing". We could say, if I read my YouVersion Bible plan every day and have a streak longer than anyone in my life group but have not love I'm not making a real difference. If I go to church every single weekend or have the right views about everything, but do not have love, I'm not really making a difference in this world.
By the way, you love one another, this is how they will know that you are my disciples. Who are we? We are the body of Christ. We are the church of Jesus Christ. We are a light shining into a dark world and we lead with love. We lead with love. We lead with love. To Jesus, it wasn't just about right and wrong, it's about pride and humility because proud people don't love well, but humble people, forgiven people, forgiven people love people who are hurting and love people who are broken, and love people who need the grace of Jesus just like I need the grace of Jesus. So I told you I'd push you, I'ma push you a little more. Listen, if you're right about so much, you're not as right as you think, because you may be right in your ideas, but you're probably not right in your approach. And Jesus didn't call us to be right. He called us to tell the truth, but He never ever told us, they'll know us by our rightness, but they'll know us by our love.
And so Father, today, we ask that you would empower us God to be a force of unstoppable love in this world. And God while we live in truth and love the truth and seek the truth, may we always speak the truth in love, empower us God. And when we think often well, I can't wait until someone else hears this message. God, if it's for us, open up our hearts to be humble before you that you can lift us up to make a difference in this world.
As you're reflecting today at all of our churches, those of you who would say, God help me be even more loving. I may be right, but help me to lead with love. Would you lift up your hands? Just lift them up. You can type it in the chat, help me be more loving as your prayer. Just type that in the comment section, help me be more loving.
And God, I pray this from the depths of my heart, that as your church, we wouldn't be known just for what we're against, but God, we would be known by the way that we love and not a soft, easy love, sharing the truth but doing it in a way that embraces people, listens, cares. God help our hearts break for those who are far from you. Maybe even very different, maybe even wrong God, because we're humble enough to know that we're often wrong. Forgive us God, of any pride, humble us, so we can show the love of Jesus in a way that brings people to know you.
As you keep praying today, I think about the guy that I was training with in jujitsu. And he reminds me so much of the way I felt for years and years. I felt so bad about myself. So bad about my sins. And I felt even afraid to go to church because they might know, and they might judge me. I'm hoping that we can be a church that welcomes people, just like Jesus did, with whatever pain, whatever brokenness and whatever sin to come in and say, yeah, we're broken too. But I hope you'll hear and I hope you'll believe is the same thing that I told this guy that Jesus has forgiven me of so much. And that God loves you exactly as you are. He just loves you and He loves you. And He loves you so much that He didn't just shout His love from heaven, but He showed it on earth. He became one of us in the person of Jesus. Jesus was without sin. He was perfect and yet sinful people love to be around Him. Jesus died on the cross. Why did He die? He died for the forgiveness of our sins. He was the innocent one who died as a sacrifice in our place. And God raised him from the dead so that anybody and this includes you. It doesn't matter what you have done. How many people you've hurt, any sin you've committed. When you call on the name of Jesus, He hears your prayers. He forgives your sins and He makes you brand new.
Today at all of our churches who are online, those who say I want His grace. I'm stepping away from my sin and I'm embracing His grace. As you call on Jesus, He will forgive your sins and you will become new. And all of our churches who are online, those who say "Yes, I want Jesus. Yes, I need His forgiveness. Yes, today I give my life to Jesus". If that's your prayer, lift your hands right now all of the place and say, yes. Come on, church, let's celebrate right now. As we have people at all of our churches coming to faith in Christ. Those of you who are online, just type it in the chat. Just tell us, I am giving my life to Jesus. Type that in right now, I'm giving my life to Jesus and we're gonna pray wherever you are, just pray aloud:
Heavenly Father. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus save me. Be first. My savior. Fill me with your spirit, so I can follow you as your disciple, showing your love as you have loved me. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. Now you have mine. In Jesus' name, I pray.