TD Jakes - Let's Get To The Heart of the Matter
That's Paul's role here and he's setting up New Testament theology and doctrine, and causing them to really understand who they are. Amidst all kinds of philosophical ideas, amidst all kinds of religions and all kind of philosophies that were pervasive in his day, he now establishes a church, and the church in particular at Corinth is the opiate of carnality commingled with spirituality. He's got his work cut out for him, because sometimes the people who are the most attracted to spiritual gifts and spiritual influence also wrestle with the deepest human depravity. Think about it, you'll get it when you get home.
You can be spiritual on one hand and then on the other hand still wrestle with issues in your life that are so pervasive, and we see it all through Corinth, and Paul is trying to get them to have balance. His first objective, I believe, is to balance the 13th chapter with what he's written in the 12th chapter. He's written in the 12th chapter about the gifts of the Spirit, the powerful gifts of the Spirit, the ability to prophesy, and speak with tongues, and move in the gifts, and to understand mysteries, do all of that. And he's offering gifts to people who have a tendency to be carnal, and there's nothing as dangerous as gifts in the hands of carnal people. It's like giving a big position to a little man. They distort the whole purpose. They lose the whole issue. They get swallowed up in the thing.
And so, he's giving out gifts, because Jesus now has ascended on high, and he is pouring out gifts to men, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are falling everywhere, but in the midst of him showing them how to operate in their gifts, he's saying let's not forget about what it is all about. That God didn't save you to create a stage for you. That God didn't save to play into your ego. That God didn't move you into a position so that you can have somebody to boss. God didn't bring you out of your bondage so that you could become arrogant and self-righteous. That God didn't give you a gift to preach, or to sing, or to testify, or to prophesy, or to lay hands on the sick so that you can stick your chest out and say, "Look at me, I'm important. I know more than everybody else. I'm smarter than everybody else. I'm more gifted than everybody else".
He said, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. This is not about you, boo. This is not about you. It is not about you. It is not about your gifts. It is not about your talent. It is not about you being used. It is not about you being recognized. We have people leave churches all the time because they didn't recognize me. They didn't use my gift. They didn't call my name. They didn't ask me to sing. This is not about you. This is not about your gifts. This is not about your prophetic gifts. This is not about don't call me evangelist, call me prophetess. No, this is not about you. It doesn't matter whether we put prophetess in front of your name, or prophet in front of your name, or bishop in front of your name, or apostle. This is not about you.
See, carnal people can't handle gifts. They can't handle gifts, because see, your gift will carry you where your character will not keep you. In other words, you can be gifted enough to get into a door that you are not consistent enough in your character to be able to maintain, and though you are gifted, you keep going back to the remedial aspects of life because you don't have the infrastructure in your character. You've lost the heart of the matter. You've got the head, you've got the hands, you got the feet, you got the... but the heart of the matter is gone. If you want to see a good old fight on social media, go on a religious site, and all the Bible thumpers will be fighting about, oh, no, that's not the right theology. Bless God, he's a heretic.
This one doesn't believe that, they don't believe this like me. They don't do this like me. They don't use the right cup when they serve communion. You ought to use ginger ale. Somebody's saying you ought to use Coca Cola, you ought to only baptize on Thursday. Oh, you're having church on Saturday, no, you shouldn't have it on Sunday. All kind of arguments, but let's get to the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoso. Even if the whoso is somebody you don't like. Even if the whoso is somebody you have an issue with. "Whosoever believeth on him shall not perish but have everlasting life".
When the religious folk came up to Jesus and tried to trip him up and asked him which was the greatest of the commandments, he said let me tell you something. You're worried about all the commandments, he said the commandments come down to two things. The heart of the matter is that you love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, thy mind, and thy soul, and secondly, that you love your neighbor as yourself. He said if you got that, you got the whole book. Two little, simple things Jesus said. In case you don't wanna do all of this reading, in case you don't wanna go through all of the concepts, and the foot washing, and the ceremonies, and the cleansing, and the feast of weeks, and the feast of unleavened bread, and this and that and other, he said if you just remember two things, you got it down. Love God and love people. Love God and love people.
Come on, this is Christianity for dummies. You can do this, love God and love people. You don't have to speak Greek, you don't have to speak Hebrew, just love God and love people, it's easy. It's often been said people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. This is not about you flaunting your gifts, this is about coming down to the heart of the matter. Can we see Christ's love in you? Can we see Christ's love in what you said, and what you wrote, and what you put on Instagram, and what you say about it? Can we see Christ's love? If we go on your Facebook site, can we see Christ's love? Oh, I lost 'em on that, Jesus. I told you if I said that to them, that was gonna kill 'em, because we can see everything else, we can see everything else but Christ's love.
Oh, God, oh, it's gonna get tough in here today. About the 13th century, there was a poet named Dante Alighieri, who is an Italian poet from Florence, who did all of his writings, and most of his poetic works were done in Italian. It was amazing. He alone singlehandedly becomes the bishop of linguistical ability for Italians. What do you mean by that? I mean, the Italian language would not have been preserved if it were not for him. He was the one who insisted on writing in language that common people could understand. He becomes called the supreme poet. He is the one who refused to write in Latin, because Latin was for the Aristocrats, the nobleman, the people of great importance, and because of him, the Italian language is preserved, and everybody honored him finally, and revered him, and respected him.
And he has a friend who is a painter, and his painter friend Giotto begins to say I wanna preserve his image, and so he paints a picture of Dante Alighieri on a wall, and he paints it on the wall of the Palace of Podestà. And when he paints it on the wall, it's so that all of Italy will be able to look at him and remember, remember his contribution, his great work. And while Italians were in that era, around the 13th, 14th century, that they were appreciative of their culture and understanding who he was, it was important. But over time, the Palace of Podestà went down, down, down. Culture, arts, literature, writing, all went down, and at the peak of that digression, what was once the Palace of Podestà became a jail cell for common people.
And in the process of it becoming a jail cell, they covered up Dante's painting. They covered it up. They just came over there and put mortar over it, and then they put whitewash over it, and said this is not important, and they covered it up. And somebody heard about it and they went fighting, and fighting, and fighting to get the right to uncover and unveil this painting, because it's not just a painting, it epitomized the preservation of their culture. And they had to dig down beneath all the whitewashing to get to what really mattered. Do you understand that sometimes people cover up what is the most important thing?
They cover it up with all of their religion, and their traditions, and their philosophies, and their fightings, and their jealousies, and their envies, until they have whitewashed the most important thing, and they have dug down into something that doesn't even matter, and you have to go back and start pulling back all the layers of things that we put ahead of the most important thing. And like my illustration, we have to get back to the heart of the matter. What Paul is doing is the same thing that they did to what was once the Palace of Podestà. He's trying to peel off the things that were lesser, so that we could get to the things that were greater. Now, I want you to look at this, and I want you to look at this with that in mind, because what I want to do is restore what matters most. To uncover the whitewash, and all of the sabotaging, camouflaging that has gone over top of what God saved you for.
In the case of Dante Alighieri, they had almost forgotten that the painting was there. How could you forget somebody who is the father and fountain of your historical language and cultural identity? They had almost forgotten, almost forgotten. Hundreds of years have passed, and all of a sudden, there's layers and layers of dirt, and whitewash, and concrete, and everything else. They'd almost forgotten what was behind there, almost, almost forgotten. How could you forget? How could you forget? People forget all the time. They forget who they were. They forget how they felt about you. People just forget what we used to have. They forget what church is about. They forget what life is.
How could you forget what's back there? I know it's been covered up with a whole lot of stuff, but how could you forget? And it took a whole lot of work to get them back to restoring this important, significant, I think it's the only picture they have. The painter unmasked the poet. Are you hearing what I'm saying? And all of a sudden, we understand that it is possible to forget what matters most. Revelation says it this way, and I'm almost finished. He says I am so proud of you, you have done amazing things. You have tried them that say they are apostles and they are not. You have stood for me when others have apostatized.
He said I am so proud of you, except I have some aught against you. He says you have lost your first love. You did some wonderful things, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. But you have lost your first love, your first love. Love for God, love for people. How could you lose that? If Jesus says that this is the substratum of our faith, how could you lose it? I'll tell you how you can lose it. Disappointments, frustration, busyness, not feeling appreciated, not getting what you expected to get in return for your love. All of a sudden, you forget how you used to be, how you used to love. You forget how you used to worship.
You remember how you used to worship when you weren't faking it? When you weren't phony? When you really were happy to be in the house of the Lord, and you really couldn't wait to get to church, and you were running to get in here, and you come in here, and tears were running down, you remember? Before you came in here distracted with other stuff on your mind, and you brought Monday through Friday into your Sunday experience. Instead of bringing Sunday into your Monday through Friday, you now have brought Monday through Friday into your Sunday. You have lost your first love. You remember when you used to do things for people, and do it from your heart, and do it because you were a loving person, and do it because you were a giving person? And remember when your heart was open? He says it this way, "Remember from what great height you have fallen". "Remember from what great height you have fallen".
Now, I'll tell you this, I'll confess this. This scripture just really resonates with me because I'm scared of heights. To be somebody flying all the time, I am scared of heights, okay? If you put me up on something really high, and it doesn't have any sides on it, I get kind of nauseated. I know I'm six foot three, but I get kinda like three foot two and back up into a corner, because I can't fly, okay, so I don't like heights. If I ever fell off of something high, I would never forget it. You would never forget it either. I would be a screaming, hollering, banshee warrior, smelly mess by the time I hit the ground. How could you fall off of something? I'm telling you the truth, brother. How could you fall off of something high and forget it?
So, why does he say, "Remember from what great height you have fallen"? Because I don't care whether you're scared of heights or not, if I take you to the top of this building and I throw you off, I bet you'd never forget it. "I ain't scared of heights". You will be today. The rest of your life, you would remember the feeling of falling. So, why does Revelation say, "Remember from what great height you have fallen," when if I fell from a great height, I could never forget? I'm glad you asked me that. He asked us to remember because when you fall from the great height of who you are supposed to be into the abyss of who you think you had to be, it is a gradual decline.
If you fell off, "Ahhhh"! If it felt like that, you would never forget it. It is a gradual erosion of your integrity. The gradual erosion of your sincerity. The gradual erosion of your love. The gradual erosion of your commitment. The gradual erosion of the love of God in your life. It is so gradual that it happens so slowly that you don't even notice that it is gone. It just gradually erodes until now you are doing out of responsibility what you used to do out of love, and on the outside it looks good to everybody else, but God said man looks on the outward appearance, but I'm looking at the heart, and I know that your heart is cold. Oh, God, we're in trouble today.
You see, this is a heart thing, it's not a head thing. It's not about gifts, it's not about talent, it is the heart of the matter. Somebody say, "It is the heart of the matter". The erosion isn't sudden, it's gradual, it's gradual, it's gradual, it's gradual, it's gradual, until all of a sudden, you don't even recognize yourself. Until all of a sudden, the painting is gone. Until all of a sudden, we don't even remember that this used to be a palatial environment. Until all of a sudden, we have become something like a jail that used to be a palace. See, what I'm talking about changing isn't just external, it's internal. I wish I had a dollar for all the changes you have made on your outside. Just a dollar for all the changes. I wish I had a dollar for every arched eyebrow in this room. If I got $2 for every weave in the country, I could pay off the youth center.
You see, I'm not making fun, you gotta do what you gotta do to get what you gotta get. If I took a collection based on false teeth, and contact lenses, and tattoos, and all the stuff that we do, if I just got the money that you paid for the gym you don't go to, I could pay off the youth center. All of this to fix up things on the outside, but what God wants to do is give you a makeover on the inside. He wants to get to the heart of the matter. You're spending all your money changing the outside, and God is after your heart.
There is a man in the Bible who made the longest journey that has ever been recorded in scripture. He traveled the longest distance. Of course, he didn't go by plane, they didn't have planes. Of course, he didn't go by cars, they didn't have cars. He didn't go by train, of course they didn't have trains. He didn't go by boat either, though they had boats. He didn't even go by camel. He made the longest journey that has ever been recorded in scriptures without ever even moving his feet.
The longest journey in the Bible is not Jesus on the road with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is not the trip to Palestine. It is not Paul going out to some Greek island. It is not that place either. The longest trip is not his voyage to Rome to confront Caesar. The longest trip that was ever made in all the scripture is not the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. Forty years they wandered. You'd think that'd be the longest trip, it was not the longest trip.
The longest, most difficult, dangerous trip was made without ever moving his feet at all. It was the prodigal son when the Bible says he came to himself. That is the longest journey you will ever make. To come past what's been put on you, past what's been camouflaging you, past what's been placed on top of you, until you finally come to the heart of the matter, and you come to yourself, and you are who God says you are, and you can do what God says you can do, and you can have what God says you can have, and you can become what God says you can become.
In the midst of all the craziness of the time, God says I want you to come back to you. To love like you used to love. To give like you used to give. To think like you used to think. To do what you used to do, and then, then I will bless you. I will bless you when I can recognize you. You've been asking me to bless somebody I don't recognize. I didn't make you that way, you became that way. As soon as you come to yourself, I will open up the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing you won't have room enough to receive.
As soon as I see you in that place that you've been running from, that vulnerable place, that place where you can get your feelings hurt, that place where your heart is on the table, that place where you really mean it, God said when you get to that place with tears in your eyes, I'll open up the windows of heaven and pour you out of blessing you don't have room enough to receive. High-five somebody and say, "I gotta get back". I gotta get back to living again, to loving again, to laughing again, to praying again, to working again. I gotta get back. I serve notice on the devil this morning. I'm getting ready to take a trip. I am coming to myself.