RESPONSIBLE CHRISTIAN LIVING
Mark 4:21-25 (NIV)
A Lamp on a Stand
21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”
A. Have you ever gotten a new job, or advanced to anew position where you work, only to be surprised by the responsibilities that come with the job?
1. Sometimes we are not fully informed regarding decisions we make, only to find that we have committed ourselves to more than we realize.
1. 10% of church members cannot be found?
20% of church members never attend church
25% admit that they never pray
35% admit that they do not read their Bibles
40% admit that they never contribute to the church, tithe or offering
60% never give to missions
70% never assume responsibility within the church
85% never invite anyone to church
95 % have never won anyone to Christ
BUT! 100% expect to go to heaven
C. Jesus was very careful to inform people of the responsibilities that came with being His disciples.
1. We need to understand that the Christian life is a life of responsibility.
a) Hopefully, that was communicated to you before you made a profession of faith and commitment to the Lord. If not, it may be a surprise to you
b) Regardless of how much you understood when you received Christ as Lord and Savior, your relationship with him brings inescapable responsibilities to your life.
(1) Therefore it is important that we recognized and carry out those responsibilities that are ours. Our scripture text this morning speaks of at least four responsibilities e have as Christians.
II As Christians we are responsible for living out a clear, positive testimony of the grace of God.
A. Illustration: Julie Mae Brown was up in years, had become almost deaf, and could hardly see. Despite these issues, Julie Mae wanted to be in church on Sunday Morning but she could not get there on her own. It became the responsibility of the deacon of the week to drive by Julie Mae’s house to pick her up and bring her to church.
One Sunday Julie Mae overslept and was running late. She was not ready when our head deacon came by to get her and she made him late to church. While sitting in Sunday School the class heard the head deacon’s car slid into a parking place, scattering gravel all over. As he was helping her out of the car, he became very exasperated.
He blurted out loudly, "Julie Mae, why do you even bother coming to church, you can’t see, you can’t hardly hear, you cannot be getting much out of coming, why do you bother"?
All of the class heard the deacon’s question, but we couldn’t’ hear Julie Mae’s reply. When the deacon came through the door with Julie Mae on his arm, they could see he had been crying. They all wondered what could drive a big, gruff deacon to tears.
After church, they sought out the deacon and questioned him.
He told them that when he had asked, "Julie Mae, why do you even bother coming to church, you can’t see, you can’t hardly hear, you cannot be getting much out of coming, why do you bother"?
She replied with empty eyes full of compassion that she wanted people to know who she belonged to!!!
Today who do you belong to? Is it obvious to your neighborhood? Is it obvious to your workplace? Is it obvious to your friends? Is it obvious to your family?
1. Notice, Mark 4:21 (NIV) 21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? [ii]
2. (Mt 5:14-15 NIV) “"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”
A. Christians have been born-again, saved, transformed by the grace of God apart from any personal merit.
B. When you publicly profess faith in Christ, like it or not, you are inviting others to examine your life to learn what it means to be a Christian.
1. The world is looking at you and I to see every little detail so that they may discover every flaw and every defect that they may use to justify their own behavior or to declare us to be hypocrites fakes which gives them an excuse not to become are part of the church.
2. Illustration: Many of you I’m sure remember Charles Barkley, the NBA Basketball star who didn’t want people watching him too closely. People were disappointed with his actions and attitude on and off the court and challenged him to be a better role model. His response was basically, “Hey, I’m a basketball player. I didn’t ask to be anyone’s role model and I don’t need that added responsibility.” As an NBA star, Barkley didn’t have the option to choose whether or not he wanted to be a role model. That decision had already been made for him when he signed a contract to play in the highly publicized NBA.
The same is true for those of us who call ourselves Christians. Once we make that decision to follow Christ, people are watching. Whether you like it or not or whether or not you think it’s fair, you’ve become an example for the family of God and to the world.
3. God expects us to live such a life before others that it would lead them to glorify Him. That is a very solemn responsibility.
III We are also Responsible for not having a “dark side” which could be discovered and bring harm to our witness.
A. (Mr 4:22 NIV) “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”
1. Illustration: “One day a young minister was being escorted through a coal mine. At the entrance of one of the dim passageways, he spied a beautiful white flower growing out of the black earth. ‘How can it blossom in such purity and radiance in this dirty mine?’ the preached asked. ‘Throw some coal dust on it and see for yourself,’ his guide replied. When he did, he was surprised that the fine, sooty particles slid right off the snowy petals, leaving the plant just a lovely and unstained as before. Its surface was so smooth that the grit and grime could not adhere to it.”
Such is the picture of a Disciple of Jesus who lives a holy life. He or she is empowered by the Holy Spirit to live as pure a life in this sinful, corrupt, immoral, vile, evil, wicked world just as the flower could “blossom in such purity and radiance in that dirty mine.” [--Bible Illustrator Deluxe 3.0, CD-ROM, “Clean in a Dirty Place.” Omaha, Nebraska (Omaha: Quick Verse, July, 1986, number 23.].
B. (Lu 12:1-3 NIV) “. . . "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”
1. We need to understand, first, that we have no secrets from God. He sees and knows what others may not.
2. Some day we will all be called to give an account of our lives and how we lived them as Christians.
C. (Ec 12:14 NIV) “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
1. All too often today we hear about preachers and church leaders whose secret sins have been discovered and bring shame and disgrace upon the church of God.
a) All too often we hear people justify their lost condition or their inactivity in the church by pointing out people in the church whose lives do not measure up to even the basic, elementary standards of the Christian life.
b) God expects us to live such a life that if everything about us ws known, it would not harm our Christian Witness. That, too, is a solemn responsibility.
2. How much greater will our judgment if there is something about our lives as Christians which causes others to go astray, or which serves as a stumblingblock to people coming to Christ?
IV As Christians, we are responsible for acting upon the teachings we receive.
A. Mr 4:24 NIV “"Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.”
B. (Jas 1:22-25 NIV) “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”
1. We need to understand that in the eyes of God it is sin when we fail to apply His teaching to our lives in positive action.
a) Illustration: Illustration: A pastor ran into the grocery store one day to pick up a couple of things he was needing – he was in a big hurry because he was running behind trying to get to his next appointment.
He quickly went through the checkout counter – paid for his stuff – grabbed the receipt and change and out the door he went. As he was getting into his car, stuffing the change into his wallet, he noticed that the checkout girl had given him too much change. “Oh man!”, he thought – “What should I do? I’m already behind schedule – I’ve got to get on the road!”
As he saw it he could do one of three things – he could go back in right now, delaying his plans even further – and make things right. He could go on to his appointment and come back later and make them right. Or, he could just forget about it and go on about his business - people made mistakes like that all the time right?
Well, he decided he ought to go ahead and go in and make it right. He walked up to the same checkout stand he had been in just a few minutes before – and as he approached the checkout girl he said, “I’m sorry – but it looks like you may have given me too much change by accident.”
With a big tear rolling down her cheek, the checkout girl looked up at him and said, “No sir, I did it on purpose. You see, I came to your Church Sunday and sat on the back row. You preached about honesty and how important it is to be honest as a Christian. I gave you too much change so I could see if you really meant it.”
2. Many people do not realize that the reason they are failing to grow as Christians is that they are failing to apply the elementary principles to their lives.
C. Illustration: In an earlier century, there lay a large boulder in the middle of the roadway. Traveler after traveler walked past the boulder, veering off the side of the road to get around it. All the while, they were shaking their head and muttering, "Can you believe that? Someone should get that big thing out of the way. What an inconvenience!"
Finally, a man came along and, seeing the boulder, took a branch from a tree and pried the boulder enough to get it rolling and rolled it off to the side of the road. Lying underneath the rock, he found a small bag with a note. The man picked up the note and read it. It read as follows:
"Thank you for being a true servant of the kingdom. Many have passed this way and complained because of the state of the problem and spoken of what ought to be done. But you have taken the responsibility upon yourself to serve the kingdom instead. You are the type of citizen we need more of in this kingdom. Please accept this bag of gold that traveler after traveler have walked by simply because they didn’t care enough about the kingdom to serve."
I wonder what "bags of gold" we’re missing each day, simply because we don’t bother to get involved in serving our heavenly kingdom. Are we the type of heavenly citizens our Father needs more of?
D. “(Heb 5:12-14 NIV) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
1. Failing to exercise our responsibility in acting upon the teaching of the Word of God is an all-too-common mistake we cannot afford to make.
2. When we go to Sunday School, Worship, prayer meeting, Revival, God expects us to apply those teachings and principles to our lives.
V As Christians, we are responsible for using our talents and abilities as God intends.
A. “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."” (Mr 4:25 NIV)
1. Why do we have talents, abilities, and gifts that others do not possess? Simple because God has given them to us to be used in the accomplishment of His will.
2. If we prove to be faithful and responsible with that which God has given us, God will enable us to do even more.
a) If we fail to utilize the gifts and abilities God has given us to do His work, He will instead given them to others who will be faithful.
b) We are responsible to faithfully serve God as He directs and equips us.
(1) Faithfulness results in reward and further opportunity for blessing.
(2) Unfaithfulness only brings loss.
(3) The key is in our response.
c) Bill Wilson pastors an inner city church in New York City. His mission field is a very violent place. He himself has been stabbed twice as he ministered to the people of the community surrounding the church. Once a Puerto Rican woman became involved in the church and was led to Christ. After her conversion she came to Pastor Wilson and said, "I want to do something to help with the church’s ministry." He asked her what her talents were and she could think of nothing---she couldn’t even speak English---but she did love children. So he put her on one of the church’s buses that went into neighborhoods and transported kids to church. Every week she performed her duties. She would find the worst-looking kid on the bus, put him on her lap and whisper over and over the only words she had learned in English: "I love you. Jesus loves you."
After several months, she became attached to one little boy in particular. The boy didn’t speak. He came to Sunday School every week with his sister and sat on the woman’s lap, but he never made a sound. Each week she would tell him all the way to Sunday School and all the way home, "I love you and Jesus loves you."
One day, to her amazement, the little boy turned around and stammered, "I---I---I love you too!" Then he put his arms around her and gave her a big hug. That was 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon. At 6:30 that night he was found dead. His own mother had beaten him to death and thrown his body in the trash......."I love you and Jesus loves you." ....Those were some of the last words this little boy heard in his short life---from the lips of a Puerto Rican woman who could barely speak English. This woman gave her one talent to God and because of that a little boy who never heard the word "love" in his own home, experienced and responded to the love of Christ.....
What can you give? You and I each have something in our lives, which, if given back to God, would be a blessing not only to many people but to ourselves.
A. The Christian life is a life of responsibility.
1. But responsibility is not something to be afraid of. Instead, it is a way to show our live for God and others, it is the stairway to personal growth, and it opens the doors for tremendous blessing.
2. As a Christian, have you been faithfully exercising the responsibilities that are yours?
a) Understand, you cannot pass them on to others.
b) You cannot excuse yourself from them.
c) You will give an accounting to the Lord for how faithfully you fulfill them.
B. Also, understand that you are not responsible for the results if you faithfully do what God wants you to do.
1. The results are His responsibility.
a) However, you must bear blame for lack of results if you fail to try to do with your life what you know God desires.
VII Do you need to confess before God that you have been failing in this matter?
A. Would you today accept the responsibilities that are yours and commit yourself to carry them out to the best of your abilities with the help of God?
B. Has God been speaking to you about your irresponsible life of sin and your need to repent and trust your life to Christ in faith?
1. If so, we invite you this morning to commit yourself to God and a life of responsibility that honors God.
[i] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
[ii] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.