Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Needs
Hi, I'm Robert Jefferson, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". When was the last time you pled with Jesus to meet your needs? I mean, got down on your knees and specifically appealed to Jesus to come through for you? Well, sometimes we forget that Jesus loves it when we come to him. In fact, in his famous 'Sermon On The Mount,' Jesus talked about providing for his children, and today we're going to explore that promise. My message is titled, 'Straight Talk about Your Needs' on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
Effective parents know how to distinguish between their children's wants and their children's needs. There is a difference. When our girls were little and growing up in our house, if Amy had asked them what they wanted for dinner, one would've answered Blue Bell ice cream, the other would've answered Pop Tarts. Clearly there was a difference between what they wanted and what they needed. And it's the same way in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Not everything we want is what we really need, and not everything we need is something that we want. Yet when we become a Christian, the Holy Spirit doesn't work in our life to begin to transform our wants, our desires, into God's desires for our life. And yet as long as we live on planet Earth, there'll always be a sense in which our desires, our wants, and our needs will be out of alignment with one another. And that's why Jesus in this next to the last section of the 'Sermon On The Mount' distinguishes between our wants and our needs in four specific areas of our life.
If you have your bibles, turn to Matthew chapter 7. Matthew chapter 7, as we look at some straight talk from the Savior about our needs. Now I wanna confess something to you, this is the next to the last series of sermon in our 'Sermon On The Mount' series, and I had more difficulty preparing this sermon than I did any of the others in this series. And the reason is this, I understood the concept of the difference between wants and needs, but I couldn't figure out why Jesus chose to address these four issues. I mean, what's the common denominator? What's the thread that ties all of these four issues together? And I tried to approach it like solving an algebra problem. I mean all week I tried to find the hidden denominator, the thread, and as the week started to draw to an end, I started to get more desperate, and finally yesterday I gave up and I felt such a relief because the thought finally hit me.
You know what? There is no link, there is no common denominator. One of the great things about being God is, you can talk about whatever you want to without having to tie the subjects together. And what God is saying is, these may not be your four top concerns or my four top concerns, but they're his concerns, and we need to know what's important to God. And so we're going to look at these four different areas of life, in which there's a difference between what we want and what we need. Let's look at the first area. The first area Jesus deals with, is the subject of sinning Christians. We want to condemn other people, sinning Christians. But Jesus says, "We need to restore sinning Christians". Look at verse 1, "Do not judge, so that you will not be judged".
Commentator Da Carson points out, that it was just a few years ago that the most often quoted passage in the Bible, both by Christians and non-Christians was John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life". But John 3:16 has been replaced now as the most quoted verse. You know what the most quoted verse among non-Christians and Christians alike is? It's this one, "Judge not, lest you be judged". People think that's the heart of the New Testament.
And people today take that verse as kind of a king's axe that protects them, that exempts them from any judgment about their lives. Don't judge their sexual behavior, they say, because after all, Jesus said, "Judge not, lest you be judged". Don't judge false religions like Mormonism or Islam or Hinduism as being deficient in offering a way to heaven, don't judge another religion because after all Jesus said, "Judge not, lest you be judged". Is that what Jesus is saying? That's certainly a popular concept in an everything-goes culture. But even just a superficial reading of the Bible makes it obvious that Jesus is not prohibiting any kind of evaluation, any kind of judgment. There are situations in which we must make a judgment the Bible says.
For example, 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, "Do not be unequally yoked together with a unbeliever". Don't marry an unbeliever. Well, to obey that you have to make a judgment, don't you? About somebody whether or not they're a believer or not. In 1 Corinthians chapter 5 verses 12 to 13, Paul was dealing with the subject of a man who was sinning in the Corinthian church and was causing the reputation of Christ to be blemished because of it. Paul said, "It's time to kick this guy out of the church, he's unrepentant". And notice what he says in verse 12 and 13, "For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves".
Paul said, "I don't have any interest in judging non-Christians, that's God's business. I tell the truth and let God make the judgment. But we are to judge those who are inside the church. We're to make an evaluation, and if they're sinning in such a way as to hurt the reputation of Christ, we're to deal with it". "Those who are outside God judges. Remove the wicked man among yourselves". Even in this chapter, Matthew 7, Jesus talks about making a judgment. Next time we're going to look at the fact that Jesus said there are two roads in life. There is the broad road that leads to hell, there is the narrow road that leads to heaven, we have to judge, evaluate which is which.
In verse 15 of Matthew 7, Jesus is gonna say, "Beware of false prophets". Well, if you're gonna beware of false prophets, you've got to judge who is a false prophet, and Jesus is gonna give us some specific criteria next week that we'll look at next time, on how to judge a false prophet. Even in this passage, in this verse, Jesus is gonna say, "You need to make a judgment". There's nothing wrong with trying to remove the spec from somebody's eyes, but you better first of all judge your own eye and then judge clearly so that you can take the spec out in an efficient and compassionate way, that requires a judgment. So, what did Jesus mean when he said, "Judge not, lest you be judged"? Well, that word judge in Greek is the word "Krino," K-R-I-N-O. And among a variety of different meanings, here are two ideas that "Krino" carries with it that I think Jesus had in mind. First of all, not to judge means not to judge somebody's motives. When we're evaluating somebody, we cannot judge somebody's motives.
1 Samuel 16:7 says, "For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart". There is a day coming when God is gonna make people's motives known. 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, "Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts". Only God can judge somebody's motives. I think when Jesus is saying, "Do not judge," he's not only talking about motives, but he's talking about final condemnation. Jesus is saying, "Don't pass a final condemnation on people. Don't say about somebody, 'They are beyond forgiveness, they are beyond redemption.'"
That's what the Pharisees loved to do, they were listening to this message. They love to say, "Oh, they can never be saved, they can never be right with God". No, only God can make that kind of judgment. Don't judge with a final condemnation. Why are we not to judge other people's motives or issue of final condemnation? Look at verse 2. Jesus said, "For in the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you". That's why it's unwise to judge other people in this way, because whatever standard you used will be used against you one day. I think what Jesus is talking about here is a kind of Christian karma. I don't always understand it, but I've seen it and I bet you have to. Somebody is unkind, unforgiving, rigid with everybody they meet, and suddenly when their time of need comes, other people are harsh and unending and rigid with them.
If you don't show mercy to others, they don't show it to you. It's not always the same people. You can treat somebody in a rigid unforgiving way and somebody else does the same thing to you. It's kind of the old saying, "What goes around comes around". Do you know people like that? They are rigid, unbending, hard and harsh, and suddenly when their time of need comes, people are that way toward them. That's why it's unwise to judge other people. "So pastor you're saying, we just ought to adopt the 'Live and let live philosophy,' don't make any kind of evaluation about anybody"? Not at all. In fact, one of the most loving things we can do, is to help restore a sinning Christian to a right relationship with God.
In Galatians 6 verse 1, Paul wrote, "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass". Literally if any one of you is overtaken by a sin, "You who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted". When we see somebody whose life is being destroyed by sin, it's unloving to walk by and pretend we don't see that they're in need. No, if we see somebody who's been overtaken and beaten up by sin, we need to help restore them. That word restore, "Katartizo" in Greek refers to the setting of a bone that has been broken. That's a delicate operation, it requires patience, and precision, and gentleness. We ought to deal with a sinning Christian in the same way. Now, there's some certain sins that call for sometimes drastic action.
In Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5, Jesus and Paul deal with situations in which somebody is sinning in such a way, that they're hurting other people, or they're hurting the reputation of the church, they're hurting the cause of Christ, they're hurting the unity of the fellowship. In those cases, if they don't repent, you may have to take drastic action and turn them out of the church, both Jesus and Paul talked about. But that's not the kind of sin Paul had in mind in Galatians 6:1, he's talking about a private sin, a sin that is destroying somebody else's life. And I think that's what Jesus has in mind here in Matthew 7. He's talking about being gentle with those who are caught up in sin.
Look at verse 3. "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your own eye,' and behold, the log is in your eye". Those were the Pharisees. They loved to go out around and find specks in people's eyes and say, "Oh, you need to get rid of that. You need to get rid of that. Get rid of that," and they don't notice the log in their own eye. How many of you have ever had something in your eye that caused discomfort? You know, it doesn't take much does it? Just a little grain of sand, just a little particle can drive you crazy. Your eye waters, all you can think about is that spec in your eye, you do everything you can to get it out, and if somebody offered you help, that would be a gracious thing for them to do. I mean, a speck is uncomfortable.
So just imagine, I've had this happen before, you are so desperate to get that particle out of your eye, you go to the ophthalmologist. You check in, the nurse gets you seated said, "The doctor will be in in a moment to see you," and the doctor walks in, he says, "How can I help you"? But you can't help but notice that the doctor has a two by four coming out of his eye. He stumbles, right? "Let me help you take care of that speck". Do you want him near your eye? Not on your life. You'd say, "Doctor, you've got a bigger problem to deal with first. Take that two by four out of your eye and then maybe I'll let you operate on me".
Now, the doctor's trying to help, but he can't see clearly to take that speck out of your eye, until he deals with the log in his own. That's what Jesus is saying here. Look at verse 5. "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye". It's a gracious thing to help somebody take a speck out of their eye, to deal with sin in their life. Jesus, listen, Jesus is not saying, "You have to be perfect before you can do that". If we had waited until we were perfect, none of us would help anybody. But what he is saying is, make sure you have dealt clearly with sin in your life the best you can, before you try to help somebody else.
For example, if you see somebody who's been overtaken by a pornography addiction, it's a merciful thing to do what you can to help them break that habit. But if you're involved in an adulterous affair, you're not gonna be able to see clearly to help somebody else deal with immorality in their life. If you have a friend or family member, somebody you know who's just exploding all the time in anger, you're not gonna be able to help them with that problem if you're constantly abusing your maid or children with outburst of anger. That's what he's talking about. "Take the log out of your own eye before you try to help somebody else".
Now, it's a very gracious thing, it's a helpful thing to turn a sinning Christian back into a right relationship with God. James said it this way, in James 5:19 to 20, "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins". We want to condemn sinning Christians, we need to restore sinning Christians. And that leads to a second area Jesus distinguishes between our wants and needs, and that is evangelism, sharing the gospel. We want everyone to accept God's message, we need to understand not everyone will accept God's message.
Look at verse 6, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces". Now, what in the world is Jesus talking about here? Remember, the context is he's talked about helping to restore a sinning Christian and he's warning you, don't be surprised if not everybody responds positively to your offer of help. Because what is holy and right and good to you, may not be to somebody else. Not everybody you try to restore is going to respond correctly. But I think he's going beyond this to talk about sharing any word from God, including the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not everybody will respond positively. What does he mean, "Don't give what is holy to dogs"?
In Jesus's day, dogs were not these little cuddly house pets you keep. No, they were diseased, ridden, mongrel dogs that roam the streets of Jerusalem in packs, they could be very dangerous. You wouldn't think of giving something holy, a piece of meat sacrificed at the temple, to one of these scoundrel dogs, you wouldn't think of doing that. Don't give what is holy to dogs. And then he says, "Don't throw your pearls before swine". Again, in Jesus's day, swine we're not these, you know, cartoon pigs you see, like the three little pigs or porky pig that we are entertained by, these were scavenger swine that again roamed in packs and if left unfed, could destroy a human being.
Just imagine inadvertently coming upon a pack of these hungry swine and you could see they were looking for dinner and you were on the menu, and so you tried to dissuade them and you have some pearls that you have purchased at a great price and you throw those pearls to the swine to distract them. Now though they were very valuable to you, if those swine began crunching on those pearls, they wouldn't be happy about it. They would thought you had trick them, giving them something that didn't help them. It would just irritate them even more. It's the same way the Bible says the gospel, the message of God is that pearl of great price. It's valuable to those of us who are saved, but there are certain unbelievers, if you present it to them, it only infuriates them more. This hadn't happened often, but I've had it happen before.
Sharing your faith with a unbeliever and having that unbeliever start to blaspheme the name of Jesus Christ, become angry at your attempt to share the gospel. That makes no sense whatsoever in a natural sense. I mean, why should people become angry at this beautiful name of Jesus we sang about today? Somebody who came to offer us eternal life. But that shows the spiritual warfare that's a reality. There is a kingdom of darkness that is infuriated by the gospel of Jesus Christ. And what Jesus is saying here is, don't expect everybody to be receptive to the gospel.
He warned his disciples in Matthew 10:14. If you go into a city, or to a town, or a nation, where the gospel is rejected, keep on sharing with them? No, shake the dust off your feet and leave. Now, there is a balance here. Yes, in one sense we're to spread the gospel everywhere regardless of the condition of people's hearts. 2 Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word in season and out of season". And that's what we do here every week at First Baptist Dallas. We cast the seed of God's Word throughout the world. And we know when we cast the seed, some of it will fall on hard ground, hard hearts that are unresponsive, but other seed is gonna fall on fertile ground, soft ground that receives the implanted Word of God.
Our responsibility is to cast the Word and leave the results to God. So there's a sense in which we share the gospel with everybody, but when we are individually dealing with people, "It's wise," Jesus said, "To know the condition of a person's heart and whether they're open or not open to the gospel. It's helpful to know their condition so that you can know what to say and perhaps what to save until another time". Proverbs 25:11 says, "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in the right circumstances".
We need to be wise in what we share, with whom we share, and when we share, that's what Jesus is saying here. The third area in which Jesus distinguishes between our wants and our needs, is prayer. We want God to answer our every prayer. We need for God to answer our best prayers. Now this is such an important topic, the subject of prayer that Jesus mentions it twice in this 'Sermon On The Mount.' We saw it in chapter 6, when he gave us a model for how to pray. That dealt with the content of our prayer. Now Jesus is giving us some direction about the practice of our prayers.