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James Merritt - It's Not About Me

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    James Merritt - It's Not About Me

So Paul lays down a general principle. Here's the principle Paul lays down. He said, look, there were people that were saying, "I have the right to do anything you say". Now Paul's quoting what these people are saying. He says, "You know what, you're right, but not everything's beneficial". "Well, I have the right to do anything". Paul says, "Well, yeah, but not everything is constructive". Then he lays down this big principle. "No one should seek their own good, but the good of others".

Now, that helped to move the ball down the field a little bit, but the question was still out there. So Paul, now you've raised another question. You say I ought to do good for somebody else, not for me, but how do you determine what's good for the other person? In other words, how do you know what to do when you're not sure what to do? How do you know whether you should eat or you shouldn't eat? How do you know whether you should drink or you shouldn't drink? And Paul says, "I'm so glad you asked that question 'cause there's really a bigger question behind the question". And that easy answer to the question is you gotta figure out why you're even here to begin with.

What is your purpose? Why did God put you on this planet? Why are you alive right now? And he says, "Let me tell you why. I'm gonna tell you the one purpose of why you're here. As a matter of fact, it's the purpose of the church. As a matter of fact, in the grand scheme of things, it is the purpose of everything that's ever been created in this world and everyone living on this world". So Paul says, "Let me drop this bomb on you". And here's the bomb. "So whether you eat or drink or," let's say this real loud. What does that say? Whatever. "Or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God". "Do it all for the glory of God".

Now, here's the kicker. You ready? You will never understand the purpose of your life. You will never accept the purpose of your life. You will never practice the purpose of your life unless you understand one thing about your life. And I'm gonna tell you right now some of you are not gonna like this at all 'cause it's gonna radically change your lifestyle if you believe what I'm about to tell you. But you've gotta get this down or I'm telling you right now, you're gonna live a wasted life. You ready? It is not about me. Your life is not about you. We were not put here for our gain. We were put here for His glory. We were not put here for our gain. We were not put into this life to see what we can get out of it. We were put in this life to see what we could give to the One that gave us life to begin with. That's why we're here, that's why you're here, that's why I'm here.

So Paul says, "Let's just settle once and for all why we ought to do what we do". And here's the great thing, once you finally realize this is my one major purpose in life, Paul says once you start achieving that purpose, there are two other unbelievable benefits that will come out of your life that will make the greatest impact on others you could ever, ever hope to have. All right, so what's the purpose? Number one, we are to seek God's glory. That's what we're here for. We are to seek God's glory. Now remember, Paul is dealing with a situation where you wanna do the right thing, you do; but sometimes you're just not sure what the right thing is. So here's the principle.

Now, watch what Paul says. He says, "Look, you're free to do as a believer what you can do". That's true, "But you're not always free to do what you want to do". Why? Because you should always seek the good of others before your own. Okay, so Paul, what does that mean when we come dealing with this whole meat deal that's been sacrificed to idols? He says, "Well, on the one hand, eat everything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscious, for the earth is the Lord's and everything in it". In other words, Paul says, "You know what, a lot of you have a point. Meat's meat, tastes the same, no big deal, not a problem. If you go buy meat, you take it to your house and you'll grill it on the Big Green Egg and you wanna eat it. Eat, drink, and be merry, for one day you're going to die; that's fine". But then he says, "But on the other hand, if someone says to you, 'This has been offered in sacrifice,' then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience".

So Paul says, "Well, here's the answer". Paul, should I eat meat sacrificed to idols or should I not? Paul says, "Well, sometimes you can and sometimes you can't. And sometimes you should and sometimes you shouldn't". And then that raises the question, okay, how do you know which is which? How do you really know when you should do it or you shouldn't do it? When it is good for others or not? Paul says again, "I'm glad you asked that question because if you'll settle this, you'll know what to do". "So whether you eat or drink," and Paul says, "Hey, while we're in the territory, let's just tell you this. Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God".

Now, that raises a big question. What do you mean by the glory of God? Well, the word "glory" literally means something that is worthy of complete praise and something worthy of complete honor. So when you read about the glory of God, what you're reading about is the greatness of God and the grandeur of God and the goodness of God. Now, when we talk about seeking God's glory, there's several things you ought to keep in mind, all right. First of all, listen carefully, God doesn't just deserve glory, God is glory. He is the only being in the universe that radiates glory. So in one sense, can I be honest, even though we ought to give Him glory, He doesn't need us to give Him glory so He will have glory, He's already got glory.

So if we came into the church today and I said, "Let me tell you what we're not gonna do today, folks. We're not gonna praise God, we're not gonna exalt God, we're not gonna elevate God, we're not going to honor God, we're not gonna bless God. We're not gonna do that today". Guess what? He'd still have glory. He'd still have praise. He'd still have honor. He'd still be gracious. He'd still be great. He'd still be good. And yet, Paul says, "But we ought to give Him glory and we ought to recognize His glory". "Well I don't understand, if He doesn't need it, why should I do it"? Because He's God and He deserves it. So the point is you don't add to His glory when you give Him glory and you don't take away from His glory if you don't give Him glory. But Paul says, "Our major purpose is to talk and walk and live our lives in such a way that we always recognize His glory, exalt His glory, and proclaim His glory".

Now, here's what this does for you. As you begin to live your life and you begin to say, "I wanna do everything I do today, go everywhere I go today, say everything I say today, think everything I think today, act in every way I act today, I wanna do everything for Your glory". The reason why that's such a great thing is 'cause it reminds you my life is not about me. I'm not here for me. I'm not here for my good. I am here for Your glory. So then you finally realize, you know what, it's not about what we do that counts, it's why we do it and who we do it for. Now, that's hard, let me tell you why that's such a hard thing for us to do. Give you an illustration. Have you ever noticed that if somebody sends you a group picture... So somebody emails you or they text you a group picture, now let's all be honest, don't look at me real holy right now, let's just all be honest.

So you get this group picture, somebody tell me, what's the very... You're in the picture now, you're in this picture. What is the first thing you look for? You. You don't give a rip what anybody else looks like. If that woman is drooling off her mouth, you couldn't care less. If that guy's cross-eyed, doesn't matter. If part of his hair is sticking up and he doesn't have any hair on the other side, you know it doesn't matter to you. You're looking at one thing. How do I look? And guess what? If you look good, you go, "That's an awesome picture". Right? But it doesn't matter if everybody else in a tuxedo and a princess gown. If you look bad, the picture's gone. Why is that? Because we were all born with a default setting in our mind that said it's all about me. My life is about me. That little baby that Alex has, that little bitty baby that's about two months old now.

You know what that baby's thinking every day? "It's all about me". That baby cries in the middle of the night, you know what that baby's saying? "It's all about me". That diaper's wet, that baby's crying, you know what that baby's tellin' that mom and dad? "It's all about me". "But I'm tired". "I don't care if you're tired, it's all about me". "I don't want to feed you right now". "I don't care, I'm hungry. It's all about me". We are born with that default setting. It's all about me. There's only one problem with that. It's not. It never has been about you. It is not about you. It will never be about you. It's all about Him. So here's the good news. It's not about whether we succeed or fail. It's not about whether we're having good days or bad days. It's not about whether we're rich or poor. It's not about whether we're healthy or sick. It's not even about whether we live or die. That's not what life is all about. It is all about glorifying God, no matter what's going on around us, behind us, before us, or above us.

Anyway, anywhere, anytime, anyhow, whenever, wherever, Paul says, "We are to glorify God". Because the biggest question God's always asking us all the time is this. "Why"? See the biggest question we ask every day is, "What"? So we get up and we have a to-do list, this is what I'm going to do today. We go to our work, this is what I need to do to be successful. I don't say anything's wrong with it. I'm just simply telling you God never asked the "what" question, God's always asking the "why" question. We're always worried about method, God's worried about motive. So let me just make this real practical. Why did you come to church today? I'm glad you did, but why did you come to church today? Check it off your do list? Feel guilty if you don't? Want to check out, see what the message is about? That's all well, that's all good. But if you came to church today for any other reason than to glorify God, God writes down zero.

Why do you give financially to God's work? "Because I get a tax deduction". If that's why you give to God's work, you know what God writes down? Zero. If I get in my study, and I do every week, and I bust it every week trying to give the very best message I can and I do. I'm not saying that to brag, I just do and I hope it shows. I'm really getting with it. But you know what, if I do that so you'd come up to me after the service and tell me what a great preacher I am, God writes down zero. If I get up here and sing, but I get up here and sing so you hear what a beautiful voice I've got, you'll brag on what a great musician I am. God writes down zero. That's why you ought to hang a bright, flashing, neon sign over every decision you make, every habit you practice, every word you say, every action you take, every trial you go through, every word that comes out of your mouth, every bit of food or drink that goes into your mouth, you ought to be asking this one big...

This one sign oughta be shining all the time, "All to the glory of God". The question is not, "Will this make me popular or more accepted"? The question is not even "Okay, will this get me where I want to go"? The question is always, "Will this glorify God"? That's always gonna be the question. And Paul said, "That includes what you eat, it includes what you drink, it includes what you say, it includes what you hear, it includes what you see, it includes where you go, it is whatever, it includes everything, how you act, how you react". And I'm just gonna say this and move on. I got a strong feeling that there are a lot of lives that would be changed in this room and those listening to me right now, I've got a strong feeling that if you were to decide right now, "You know what? I'm gonna spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to bring glory to my God. I'm going to do that".

I got a strange feeling it would change the way some of you would handle your money. I got a strong feeling it would handle the way you relate to your wife or your husband. I have a strong feeling it might change the way you, even in your attitude of where you work and who you work for. I have a strong feeling it might have an effect on the kind of language that you use and the kind of words that you say. Because our major purpose is to seek God's glory. Now here's the good news. Paul said, "When you do that, there are two benefits that will just come out of your life that will enable you to have the greatest impact on other people you could ever hope to have". Because when you seek God's glory, here's what he says, then you'll share God's grace. You will share God's grace.

Now, Paul just shares how... This is a beautiful thing. If you make up your mind, "Lord just for today, everything I do, I want to make sure I do it for Your glory". You know what Paul says? He says, "Your life will be just like a rising tide". It will lift all boats because the more you glorify God, guess what, the more good you do to others and the more good you do for others. And Paul said, "The greatest thing you can ever do for another human being, ever, is to share God's grace". So listen to what Paul says. He says, "Look, do not cause anyone to stumble with the Jews, Greeks, or the church of God, even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I'm not seeking my own good, but the good of many so that they may be saved".

Now if you're listening carefully, you've already probably picked up something and if you haven't, I'm gonna share it with you. Paul is trying to tell us when it comes to seeking the glory of God in your life, there's no neutral ground. You never get a vacation. You never say, "Okay, just for today, this is for me". You never ever get a break from that. Particularly, say to the way, you conduct yourself in public. So Paul's been telling us in one of two ways every day, you will either be a stepping stone to the glory of God or you're gonna be a stumbling block to the glory of God. No neutral ground because whatever you do, you either do it for the glory of God or you don't. And then he says, "By the way, when you do that, you won't cause Jews to stumble, you won't cause Greeks to stumble, and you won't cause the church of God to stumble".

I want to ask you a question. Why did Paul refer to those three entities? Why did he say, "Hey if you live for the glory of God, you won't cause Greeks, Jews, or the church of God to stumble". He was so brilliant when he said this because what he just does for us is he describes the whole human race. Because there's only two kinds of people in this world, ethnically. Biblically-speaking, there are only two ethnicities in the world. You know that, right? There are what? Jews. You're one or the other. I can tell every one of you that right now. You are either a Jew or a Gentile. There's only two ethnicities, Jews or Gentiles. Spiritually speaking, there are only two kinds of people in the world. You're either a part of God's church or you're not. It's that simple.

So Paul says... Here's the beautiful news. He said, "When you are seeking God's glory, you will be sharing God's grace and you won't be a stumbling block to anybody". You won't be a stumbling block to an unbeliever coming to Jesus. And you won't be a stumbling block to a believer who needs to get closer to Jesus. In other words, here's what Paul said, "We may offend people when we give the gospel, but we should never offend people the way we live the gospel". And Paul says, "When you are seeking the glory of God, you will be doing good for others". "But Paul, wait a minute. How's that so good for other people? I get as good for God, I get how it's good for me. How's that so good for other people? What does that do"?

And then he says this, this is my favorite part. He said, "Even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many". And then he lays this out, he drops this bomb. "So that they may be saved". You want to seek God's glory? "Yes, I do, pastor". Can I tell you a good way to determine whether or not that's where you are in your life? "Yeah, okay". Let me tell you. You will know you're full of the glory of God when the greatest desire you have for every other human being is that they may be saved. If you're a Democrat, the greatest desire you oughta have for a Republican is that they be saved. If you're a Republican, the greatest desire you oughta have for a Democrat is they'd be saved. If you're a conservative, your greatest desire oughta be for a liberal, that liberal gets saved. If you're a liberal, your greatest desire for a conservative oughta be that conservative get saved. Your greatest desire for your husband, your wife, your kids, your next door neighbor, your boss, your employees, your greatest desire for all of them is they may be saved.

You know why? Because nothing brings more glory to God than when we share God's grace and somebody receives God's grace. That's why Paul said, "When you seek God's glory, you will share God's grace". I don't know how many of you are Star Wars nerds. I'm not, I like Star Wars, I've seen all the movies. I'm not a nerd, I don't know that much about it. But if you're a nerd, you'll know this name. If you're not, you won't. The name is Biggs Darklighter. How many of you know the name Biggs Darklighter. How many of you know that name? All right, we have some nerds in the room. So you know Biggs Darklighter. I'd never heard of this guy.

How many of you know the name Luke Skywalker? Okay, see everybody knows Luke Skywalker. Well, guess what? If it had not been for Biggs Darklighter, we wouldn't even know who Luke Skywalker was. If it weren't for Biggs Darklighter, Star Wars would've never been made. It would have stopped before it ever got started. You say, "What do you mean"? Biggs Darklighter was known as Red Three, he was the X-Wing fighter pilot. They're fighting Darth Vader, they're going down this canyon and they're getting fired at, and they're firing on Darth Vader. And he's flying right alongside Luke Skywalker's aircraft. Well at the last moment, Darklighter, he sees that Darth Vader has locked his laser onto Luke Skywalker's jet. At the last moment, he thrust his spacecraft between Luke and the Imperial aircraft.

And instead of Luke Skywalker getting destroyed, he gets destroyed. Instead of Luke Skywalker dying, he dies. He's a hero. Guess what? Do you know how long his role lasted in that movie? 90 seconds. That's it. 90 seconds! He's just got a small part. I mean, can you imagine you're Biggs Darklighter? "Hey, we want to hire you for this movie". "What am I gonna do"? "Die". "Really? How long will I be in"? "90 seconds". "Seriously"? "Yeah, but you are so important because without you, we don't even know who Luke Skywalker is". You say, "What's that got to do with me"? In the story of life... I hate to burst your bubble. In the story of life, excuse my grammar, I want to emphasize this, you ain't Luke Skywalker. Jesus is Luke Skywalker. You're Biggs. You're just a small part in the story. You just have a minor role to play, but it is a very important role and here's the point.

The story of your life is not about you. The story of your life is to be about Him. The movie is not about us, it is about Him. You know what our part is in the grand story of life? Can I tell you? Everybody listening? If you're listening, wave at me. Everybody listening? Do you know what your part is in the story of your life? It's to get His story told, not yours. That's our part, that's why we're here for. We are to seek God's glory. And how do you do that? When you seek God's glory, you share God's grace. I'll tell you why I want to glorify God. Not so people brag on my life, not so people will think I'm some great pastor or some great preacher, or some great this, or some great that.

You know why I want to glorify God? 'Cause I desire that people are saved. So you seek God's glory, you share God's grace, and then Paul says, "Let me tell you one other thing that will then happen". He said, "You will show God's goodness". Now watch this, we'll wrap this up. One of the things about the Bible I want to teach you, and it's kind of unfortunate, but when they first wrote the Bible, when the Bible was first written on scrolls, they didn't have chapter divisions, they didn't have verse separations, that was kind of for convenience reading. So every scholar I've read after, and I agree, I believe there's a mistake, I believe the first verse of chapter 11 really oughta go with the last verse of chapter 10. So Paul's just got through saying, "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God". And then he makes this incredible statement, listen to what he says. He says, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ".

I'm not kidding you, I'm in my study, I'm reading that and I put my Bible down and I go, "Good grief. Man! Paul, you were so committed to seeking God's glory and you were so committed to sharing God's grace, you could actually say, 'Hey. You want to know how to do this thing called the Christian life? Follow me. Get in my footsteps. Imitate me. Follow me, even as I follow the example of Christ.'" Well wait a minute, time out. What example did Jesus set? What are you talking about? How's this relate to the glory of God? All right, I'm gonna tell you something I guarantee you've never heard before. Why did Jesus come to planet earth? Every one of you would say the same thing. "Oh, He came to die on the cross for our sins".

Let me ask it another way. What is the primary purpose Jesus came to this earth? You said, "Well, it was to die on the cross, save us from our sins". No, that wasn't the primary purpose. Not what He said. Do you know why Jesus Christ came to this earth? Buckle your seatbelt. "It was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name". Jesus said, "You know why I came? I came to glorify My Father". If you think about it, you go back and look at the life of Jesus. You know what you'll find? Everywhere Jesus went what was He doing? Seeking God's glory, sharing God's grace, showing the Father's goodness. And here's the amazing thing that Paul says and I hope you'll buy into this. Paul said, "What was true of Jesus is true of me. And what's true of me can be true about you".

I was reading the other day, I love this story, it's a true story. There was a mother from Costa Mesa, California and she told about one Monday morning, she got up, she had a little three-year-old boy. She got up one Monday morning, they'd gone to church the day before. She got up at one Monday morning and she said normally her son would do what other three-year-old boys would do, he'd get up and watch cartoons, play, and all that kind of stuff. She said she got up that morning and as soon as her son got up, she said, "Everywhere I went, he was right on my heels, everywhere I went. Followed me everywhere". Said, "I couldn't get anything done. I couldn't mop the floor. I couldn't vacuum the carpet. I couldn't make the bed". She said, "Every time I turned around, I'd almost fall over him because he wouldn't just get away from me".

She tried everything. She tried to turn on the TV. She tried to give him breakfast. She tried to get him to play with the puppy. She tried to get him to get on the iPad. She tried every single thing. She said, "He just wouldn't get out of my way". She said every time I'd say, "Why don't you go do this or go do that"? He said, "Oh, that's all right, mommy. I'd just rather be in here with you". She said, she just after about two hours, she just couldn't take it anymore. She sat him down and she said, "Son, why do you keep following me everywhere"? And that little boy said, "Well mommy, my Sunday school teacher told us yesterday that we ought to walk in Jesus' footsteps. But I can't see Jesus, but I can see yours".

Let that sink in. There's a world out there, fellow Christians. They can't see the Jesus we believe in. They can't see His steps, but they watch yours every single day. Every day. Paul says, "Follow my example, even as I follow Christ". So let me just ask a very penetrating question. Very penetrating. Are you living for Christ in such a way, constantly seeking God's glory, sharing God's grace, and showing God's goodness that you would be thrilled if people walked in your footsteps and honored if they decided they were going to imitate your life in the same way that you imitate Christ? Yes, we are asking you to invest in God's work through this campaign because when you invest in God's work and you do it for the right reason, you're seeking His glory.

When you invest in God's church, you're sharing God's grace. And when you do it out of gratitude for what God has done for you, you are showing God's goodness. What you're doin'. So close your Bibles, put down your iPads, quit thinking about the restaurant where you're going to for a minute. Give me two more minutes, we're done. Don't worry about the virus. How many of you in your house have duct tape? In your house somewhere you have duct tape? Okay, most of you do. Okay. Let me tell you about duct tape, you'll love this. We're told that duct tape can repair just about anything. Seems like its purposes are endless. Well, guess what? So these technicians get together and they do this study and you know what they found out? Duct tape doesn't succeed well at the purpose for which it was created.

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California found out duct tape is not a good product for sealing duct work. Max Sherman, a physicist, who conducted these experiments to monitor the effectiveness of air conditioning and heating sealants said and I quote, "What we found was that duct tape almost always failed. In fact, the failure rate results in approximately 30% of the heat or cool air generated in an average home to be lost in the attic or the wall space because of poorly sealed ducts".

So here's what they found out, you can do a lot of stuff with duct tape. You can patch a ripped bicycle seat. You can seal off the leak of a radiator hose. You can secure a broken window. You could even tape an alligator's mouth shut. Georgia does it every year now. You knew that was gonna get in there, right? But you can't even depend upon duct tape to fulfill the primary purpose of which was created. And here's the thought. Here's a thought, Thrill.

How many duct tape Christians are walking around the world today? Are you gettin' a lot done? You got the college degree, you're livin' the dream, drivin' the car, livin' in the house, checkin' off the religious box. But your major purpose, if you'd wake up and look in the mirror and all of a sudden realize it's not about me, it's all about Him. We were not put here. We were not put here for our gain, but for His glory. So here's the wonderful news. When you seek the glory of God and you share the grace of God and you show the goodness of God, you're showing a world out there that needs to hear it more than ever, "It's not about me. It's not about you. It's not about us. It is all about Him".
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