John 21 / July 15th, 2018 / Dr. Todd Gray
We sometimes find ourselves doing something we know isn’t entirely healthy…Comparing ourselves and our blessings to others. Don’t fall into this trap! True joy and contentment come when we keep our eyes on one thing, Jesus.
- Jesus is Worthy (John 21:24-25)
- Keep your Focus on Jesus and Stop Comparing Yourself to Others (John 21:20-23)
Amen. If you have your Bibles this morning, of course, I pray that you do, let’s open together to John, chapter 21, right here in the middle of summer in the month of July. We are coming to the close of our series in the Gospel of John. What a rich and worthy task it has been for us to examine God’s Word, verse by verse, phrase by phrase, chapter by chapter, to get the whole picture of what the Holy Spirit inspired John to say to his audience almost 2,000 years ago. That rich application is just as needed today as it was then, and these final few verses, I want to talk to you this morning about keeping your focus or your eyes on Jesus and not others.
As I travel our community, and as I travel many communities throughout my life, in the month of July, we’ve become accustomed to celebrating Christmas in July. Now, there’s all kinds of reasons people say Christmas in July, but I just want to kind of take that play on words this morning and talk about Christmas, if I could, for a few moments, in July. I want your mind, for the purpose of illustration, to go to Christmas morning.
Yes, we know it’s about the birth of Jesus, and God coming to this earth in flesh as a man, but on that morning, after you’ve celebrated the birth of Christ, maybe the night before or first thing in the morning, I want you to put your mind where your children’s minds are, probably for most of the month of December, if not October and November. Put your mind on the gifts for a second and see if you can’t imagine with me what your children look like, or your grandchildren, look like around the tree, in the living room, in the den, ripping those presents open.
I want to ask you this. Have your children ever forgotten what they have in their own lap because of what they see in their brother, or sister, or niece, or nephew, or cousin’s lap? What I’m telling you, have they ever been distracted by their own blessing because they’re looking at the blessing of someone else? Have they ever taken their eyes on how good they have it in the plethora of presents that surround them, because they, for that one moment of distraction, want what their brother or sister has? I think so. It happens to my children. I’m sure it happens to your children, and I’m willing to bet it even happened to you as a child. There’s a message for the church here.
Amen. Have you ever stopped liking your car, your clothes, or your house as much because you see your friend or your neighbor’s new car, fancy clothes, or brand-new house? Have you ever taken your eyes off your blessing because of the blessing in somebody else’s life? I’m sure you have, because I have. Keeping your eyes on Jesus is the call, not getting distracted in jealousy about what other people have. That’s what’s going on in our passage of Scripture today. There’s a message for you at work here. Maybe I’m not speaking to anybody this morning. Maybe there’s just the message for me, but I believe there’s a message for you in your spiritual life, and there’s a message for you in every part of your life.
Peter is receiving a call from the King of the universe. At the end of John, Peter is interacting with the Savior Himself. He’s walking with Him. He’s talking with Him, and he’s following our Lord, but for one moment, he gets distracted. He takes his eyes off Jesus, and he starts worrying about John. Peter is in need of some loving correction from his Savior to get his mind right. I’m sure none of you need that correction today, so maybe you can listen for a friend. Either way, let’s go into this text together, John, chapter 21, verse 20. Let’s stand together.
“Peter, turning around,” in verse 20, “saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?'” What about this guy? “Jesus said to him,” in verse 22, “‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’ Therefore the saying went out among the brethren that the disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?’ This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” Verse 24 is John talking about himself. Verse 25, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”
This is God’s Word. Please be seated. What we see in here in this passage of Scripture, church, is that Jesus is worthy of your full attention, so stop getting distracted by what others are doing or are not doing. Follow Him. What I want to do this morning is, I want to start at the end. I want to start in verse 24 and verse 25. That is not the main point of this text, but what it’s going to do for us is build a foundation so that we can build the main point upon it.
In verse 24 and 25, John, one more time, out of 100 times, wants you to see, and I want you to see before we leave this book, that Jesus is worthy. Although it may not be the main point of this text, it could be argued that the supremacy of Christ is the main point of every text. In this particular passage of Scripture, you must see the primacy or the worthiness of Jesus, if you’re going to give Him your full attention and stop getting distracted in your jealousy about what others are receiving or they’re not receiving. What Jesus is doing with Peter here is chiefly important, but Peter must first see Him as worthy. John, here in verse 24, is basically signing off by identifying himself as both the beloved disciple and as the author of this book.
There has been some discussion that maybe the Apostle John did not write the Gospel of John, or maybe that the Apostle John was not the beloved disciple. I want to tell you this week, after analyzing all of the critical comments about those two subjects, I agree with D.A. Carson that the most natural reading of the text is how you should read it. John the Apostle is both the author of this book, and he is the beloved disciple that is not named throughout the Gospel, but John here is going out of his way to tell you, “That guy is me. I’m writing this book with my own words, with my own thoughts, about what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard. You can trust it,” but John doesn’t want to end the book in verse 24.
John doesn’t want to end the letter with the last thing that you’re thinking about is how cool John is. “Oh, how neat that John wrote this letter,” or, “How awesome is it that John is this beloved disciple that he’s been talking about throughout this letter?” He said, “No, no. I don’t want to end there. I don’t want your mind to be on me as you stop reading this letter, as you close this book. I want the last word to be from Jesus. I want the last adoration not to be attached to me,” John says. “I want it to be attached to Jesus Christ Himself,” so look at how he ends the book in verse 25. “There are many other things which Jesus did.” In fact, he says there’s so many things that if we wrote them down in book form, the world couldn’t hold it. Yes, John is using the rhetorical device of exaggeration to get his point across. What he’s telling you is this. “Not everything that Jesus did I’ve written about. Not everything Jesus said I wrote about, but the things that I did record are for your benefit.”
Does this not sound like the culmination of what I said the Gospel of John was meant to be in John, chapter 20, verses 30 and 31? I believe this is where John is telling you, “I wrote the whole book for this reason.” This is in John, chapter 20, in verses 30 and 31. Let’s read that together, which I believe he’s reflecting that same idea in the last verse of the entire Gospel, John 21:25. John 20, verse 30, says, much like verse 25 and 21 says, “There are many other things Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book,” but look at verse 31 of chapter 20. “But these things have been written so that you may,” what? “Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing, you may have life in His name.”
Again and again, John records what he has seen with his own eyes, what he has heard through the testimony of his own ears. He writes these things down so that you can see Jesus as worthy to trust, as worthy to believe in. Church, I want to tell you He is worthy. John ends the book where he began the book, with the focus on Jesus, who always was, is, and always will be God. That alone. John could have written just John, chapter one, and it would have been good enough for you to see that Jesus was worthy enough to believe in, but he didn’t stop there. Not only is Jesus God, but John tells us that He who is the Creator became like the creation. If that hasn’t sinked in, let me say it another way. He who created you and cares for you was born as a human, and He had to be cared for. How humble is that? How prideless is that? He did that for you and for me, but not only that.
Not only did God become a man and live in humility, but while living in humility, He lived a life as a human, which means He was hungry. He was tired. He was needy. He was weak in His flesh, but despite being weak, He fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies that He needed to fulfill about the Messiah. Not only that, but in His human weakness, His divine nature showed in that He lived a sinless life, something that you could not do. Church, what I’m trying to tell you is that He is worthy. Not only has John recorded it, but in how Jesus lived. Jesus tells us at least seven, I believe probably eight, times, that He is the great I Am, and as the great I Am, church, He is worthy. He says, “I am the bread of life which satisfies every longing. I am the light of the world that shines hope and gives direction.”
He says, “I am the door by which you must enter into salvation. I am the good shepherd that you must follow. I am the Resurrection and the life, and in Me, you will never die again. I am the way, the truth, and the life, and if you want to get to heaven where God the Father is, you’ve got to come through Me.” He says, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me, I will give you everything that you will ever need, but if you do not, you have nothing apart from Me.”
Finally, He says, “I am everything that you need Me to be.” Church, would you turn to your neighbor this morning, look them in the eye, and say He is worthy? Because He is. He’s worthy of your adoration, and surely He is worthy of your faith. He tells us throughout the Scriptures that He will never leave us and He will never forsake us, but instead, He has adopted us through His blood into the Kingdom of God, and He has earned our right to be called children of God. He’s the conquering king, but He revealed Himself as the suffering servant, and as the suffering servant, you see throughout the Scriptures in both John and even Isaiah 53 that He grew up in humility. The Bible tells us that He had no majesty in His appearance that should attract us to Him. He was despised and rejected by men, even those who were closest to Him.
He was well acquainted with sorrows in Himself, but upon Himself, He took your sorrows, and your shame, and your sin, and He marched it up to Calvary, yet humanity, His own people, people like you and me, saw him as smitten, stricken, abandoned, and afflicted by God. On the cross, He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him as He was our substitute. By His wounds in the crucifixion, church, we find healing, but what about us? The Bible tells us that we’re like sheep. We abandon Him. Each of us turns our own way, but the Lord laid upon Him on the cross the sins of us all.
Church, He is worthy. After His death, as the suffering servant, He was buried in a tomb, but three days later, He rose from the dead. If you would today repent and believe, you could find salvation in Him. Church, He is worthy of your faith. John goes out of his way to tell you this. I pray, if you’re here today and you’re an unbeliever, that you would see from John’s heart, from my pleading heart, and it would make its way into your soul that He is worthy of your faith, to repent and believe and have salvation in Him.
Church, not only is He worthy of your faith, He is only worthy, if you would see Him as such, as retaining your full attention every single day of your life for your whole life long. Now that we’ve built this foundation, John’s been building it for us in 21 chapters that He is worthy. Now, let’s go to verses 20 through 23 and see that because He is worthy, we can keep our focus on Him and stop comparing ourself to others. You’ll notice in this passage of Scripture that Jesus gives Peter a pretty firm rebuke. Jesus here is walking with Jesus, and he had just seen Jesus materialize out of thin air for the third time post-Resurrection.
Let’s build the scene. The first two times, Jesus materialized before His disciples. If you’ve been here the last few weeks, it was in a closed-door meeting with His disciples, and He proved to His disciples that He had risen from the dead by showing them the wounds in His hands, His side, and His feet. He wanted them to have a peace that surpasses all understanding that would last a lifetime, and He wanted to remove all doubt from their minds, just like He did with Thomas, but now the third time that Jesus appears to them, He is walking on the shoreline right next to the Sea of Galilee. This would have been the third time that Jesus had appeared to Peter after the Resurrection. Remember, Jesus told the disciples to go to Galilee, so they went and waited. Evening came. They got tired of waiting, so Peter says, “Let’s go fishing,” went back into his old lifestyle a little bit as a master fisherman, and they fished all night long without Jesus, and what did they catch? You remember last week.
A sum of nothing. That’s right. Not one fish. Jesus comes to them after a night of fishing on the shoreline, calls out to them, “What did you catch?” The answer, “Nothing.” They didn’t know it was Jesus. He says, “Why don’t you try casting your nets on the other side of the boat?” They do that, and you know this story. They caught such an amount of fish in that one pull of the net that they couldn’t even bring it into the boat. It starts to click for them. “We’ve seen this before.” John says, “That’s Jesus.” As soon as Peter recognizes Him, realizing that apart from Him, he can accomplish nothing, he dove into the water, swam to Jesus, and there, Peter and the other disciples shared a very human breakfast with Jesus, their Savior.
After breakfast, do you remember what Jesus did with Peter? This is leading to where we’re at today. He started the restoration process of Peter. Peter, not that long ago, had denied Jesus three times. Now, after breakfast, Peter confesses Jesus three times. Jesus says, “Peter, do you love Me,” and three times, He asked that question, He gets the same answer all three times. Peter says, “Yes.” Then with that affirmation, not only is Jesus reconciling Peter back to apostleship, He’s given him a pastoral call. “Feed My sheep.” As soon as they finish talking about feeding the sheep and being restored and reunited as an apostle, Jesus then talks about death with Peter. “Peter, you’re going to follow Me, and I’m going to lead you to death at the hands of men that you do not know. You will not enjoy this, but you’re going to do it for My name’s sake, for My glory.”
Then after talking about the martyrdom, the gift of martyrdom that He gave to Peter, He says, “Now, follow Me.” Doesn’t that sound good? “Follow Me.” Peter counted the cost of the discipleship, and we find Him, in verse 20 through 23, right here in verse 20, what do we find Peter doing? Following Jesus. It seems like such a great moment of faith. “I’m going to die for You? Okay, let’s go,” and he starts following Jesus, walking with Him, and talking with Him, restored once again like he used to be, but then Peter takes His eyes off Jesus. I don’t know if there was some kind of doubt, maybe a little weakness in his heart, but as he’s walking with Jesus, he can feel somebody behind them, so Peter turns, takes his eyes off Jesus, and sees John coming up in the rear.
He said, “Jesus,” after being told that he was going to die, “What about him?” Maybe Peter, in his heart, was wondering, “Am I the only one that’s going to have to die for You?” Maybe he took that stray thought one step further and was thinking, “Okay. Jesus, what about Your beloved John, the one that’s always sitting next to You, the one You’re always having private conversations with? Are You going to ask him to give his life as well, or just me, the one that You’re always correcting? Oh, poor, pitiful me.”
What does He say to Peter? What He tells Peter is something we all need to hear. Look at verse 22. “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” Maybe you recognize the King James a little bit better. “What is that to thee? Follow thou Me.” What is Jesus doing here? This is going to help you, if you listen, church. He’s telling you, “What I’m doing with John is My business. What I’m doing with John, and what I give John, what I don’t give John, that’s none of your business.”
“I have your path. Walk your path. I have a path for John. You let Me worry about John. You need to worry about you and how you follow Me, not how John is following Me.”
Then John goes on to make a little editorial note here. Some had thought because Jesus said this, maybe some of the other disciples heard Jesus talking about this, that maybe John was going to live forever until Jesus came back. John’s like, “No, no, no, no. That’s not what Jesus said. Jesus is telling Peter, ‘What I do with John is My business. I’m Jesus. You’re not.'” John had to clarify that, because when John was writing this Gospel, who was already dead? Peter was likely already dead. Who was still alive? John was still alive.
Yes, it is true that John lived the longest out of all the disciples and would be with Jesus not into martyrdom on a cross that probably Peter was, but he was imprisoned and then wrote the Book of Revelation. He had to clear it up. “No, I’m not going to live forever until Jesus comes back. I, too, am going to die. This is not about me. This is about Peter.” Let’s get back to that rebuke of Peter for a second. Let me meddle in your heart for a minute, since Jesus did it with me this week. How many times have you been worried or so worried about someone else, what they’re doing or what they’re not doing, or about what blessing they’re receiving, or what blessing they’re not receiving, that you have forgotten about your own walk with Jesus? This is not just a problem that Peter shares alone. This is a problem that is alive and well in your life, Monday through Saturday, and I see it alive and well in your life, even on Sunday.
Now, we’re not sure what Peter’s motives were for asking Jesus, “What about John?” We don’t have to be sure of his motives. We know that Jesus didn’t like him worrying about it at all. “Get your eyes off John. Keep your eyes on the path that I’m leading you down. John has his own path.” In this moment, even though it was a slight moment, Peter receives the rebuke and the correction of the Lord, because in that moment, he took his eyes off Jesus.
This is not the first time that Peter has ever taken his eyes off Jesus. Go back this week. There’s two, at least two, probably three or maybe even four more times when Peter did this. That’s recorded for us so that we can learn from it. Do you remember Luke, chapter five, when this fishing miracle occurred the first time? Peter took his eyes off Jesus, because he was distracted in his own heart, in his own sin. Jesus said, “Cast your nets in the deep water.” They cast their nets in the deep water, they catch a whole bunch of fish, much like now in John 21, and suddenly, Peter sees Jesus for who He is, and he says, “Depart from me, Lord. I’m a sinful man.” He got distracted by his own sin, or if you turn to Matthew, chapter 14, this is maybe the most famous example of this.
Jesus is walking on the water. Peter looks out at Jesus and thinks, “That would be awesome. Lord, can I come to You?” Jesus says, “Come on, Peter.” Peter steps out of the boat, takes that first step in the water, and finds sure footing. Whew, okay. He takes his eyes and keeps them on Jesus, and that next step, Peter is walking on water. It wasn’t his sinfulness that distracted him this time. What was it? The circumstances of life. Peter’s walking towards Jesus, and all of a sudden, he realizes, “Wait a second. I’m walking on water.”
“I’m not sure if I know how to swim. I can feel the wind around me. I can see the waves crashing around me,” and he got distracted by the circumstances of life, and he starts to sink. Church, these are good lessons for us. Don’t get distracted in your walk with Jesus by your own pride or even your own sinfulness. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He will guide you, and He atoned for you. Also, don’t get distracted about the things in life that you cannot change. Circumstances are not under your control. I know you want them to be. They’re not.
Let Jesus worry about the circumstances. You keep your eyes on Him. Although those are good sermons and probably good points that I could preach on longer, that’s not the point of this text. No, those are helpful for you. That’s why I gave them to you, but the point of this text is not getting distracted by others.
We often neglect that, don’t we? “Pastor, I don’t mind if you talk to my heart, yeah. I need that, and I don’t mind if you talk to me about circumstances. Yeah, I know I can’t change it, but when you start talking about me not comparing myself to others, now you’re just meddling.” Well, that’s okay. I want to meddle a little bit, because this is hurting you the same it was hurting Peter. This has happened to me in my life, and though I don’t know Peter’s motivation, I know my motivation, and I’m willing to bet it’s your motivation. When we get distracted and take our eyes off of our relationship with Jesus and we look to others, I’m willing to wager that a majority of the time, it’s because of jealousy. We see something they have that we want, and we’re mad that we don’t have it. Not much different than that child at the Christmas tree. We stop looking at the blessings that are in our own lap, because we’re so worried about the blessings in somebody else’s lap.
This has happened to me, and I’ll just share a little bit with you. Not too long ago, when I was early in the ministry, I looked at CEOs that were greedy. I saw wicked men. I was like, “Wait a second. Look at all the power they have. Look at all the prosperity that they have. Look at all the success that they have, and I’m over here struggling.” I took my eyes off Jesus, got distracted by them. You’re like, “Oh, yeah, I feel that way too,” but let me hit a little closer to home.
There has been times, praise God, they’re in the past, when as a pastor, I would look at another friend, or a pastor in ministry, and I would say, “Look at what they’re doing over there, and all the success they’re having, and how much they’re growing. I’m doing the same things they are, maybe even better, but not seeing the same results.” Wait a second. Is that right? “What is that to thee,” Jesus says to me. “Follow thou Me. Todd, you don’t worry about them.” He would give me further revelation that says, “Not only is that none of your business, why don’t you focus on what I having you doing, where I’m having you do it, be the best version of you where you are? Let Me worry about you, and then also let Me worry about them.”
Church, sometimes it can come off and can have an error of self-righteousness. “Oh, I’m really just concerned about her family life.” “I’m just concerned about his career path,” when what you really mean is, “I don’t understand why they have things that I don’t. I wish I was where she was.” Sometimes, it can get worse. Yes, even in your life, in your coworkers’ life, in your ministry, and you say things like, we try to be all self-righteous about it, pious, “Well, they’re doing it the wrong way anyway. I don’t want that,” or, “When I look over there at them, they’re sacrificing biblical principles just for the sake of church growth,” or, “I can have the same promotion that she got if I was willing to cut corners like she did.” “Oh, yeah, their moral decisions are questionable, at best.”
Wait a second. Wait for just a minute. Is that truth talking, or is that jealousy? Church, stop focusing on other people’s business with the Lord. Focus on your business with the Lord. What does that have to do with you? The answer is absolutely nothing. You follow Him. We follow Him together. Stop worrying about what God is doing or not doing in the life of another. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Stay faithful in prayer. Stay faithful in His Word, and let Him take you where He wants you to go. Get your eyes off your brother’s blessing. Keep your eyes on Christ. Get your eyes off your friend’s paycheck. Get your eyes off your friend’s wife. Get your eyes off your friend’s house, and put your eyes on Christ, and be thankful for what you have in Him.
There’s another underlining principle here, and here is what it is. God has called and gifted people differently to do different things. What am I trying to tell you? You are no replica of anybody else. God, the Creator of the universe, has crafted you, called you, and gifted you just the way He wants you. He doesn’t want you to be like somebody else. That’s why He made them. Stop trying to be like them, and walk in your space. Being satisfied with Christ with where you have been called with the gifts you have been given. Let Him worry about you, and let Him worry about them. This happens outside of the church, but also inside of the church.
The Bible tells us, in 1 Corinthians 12, go and read it, Romans 12, go and read it, that there are different body parts in the church, with different gifts for different reasons at different times in history. Some people are a mouthpiece. Other people are hands. Some people are the feet, but some of you are so worried about what body part they are, you end up becoming the … And we don’t need any more of those in church, y’all. That’s funny, but I’m being serious.
Some people have the same gifts, but they use those gifts differently. Were Peter and John not both apostles? Yeah, they were. Were they not both disciples? Yeah, they were. In the same season, in the same realm, but they did their apostleship differently. It wasn’t a competition. One was not better than the other. Different is okay. Think about Peter. Jesus says, “I’m going to call you to be a church leader. I’m calling you,” in John 21, “to pastoral care, to feed My sheep.”
He also told him here, “I’m giving you the gift of martyrdom.” Yes, I said “gift,” because that’s what it was. Peter brought glory to Christ, because that was his lane, and he stayed in his lane, but then John, although it was similar, had a different lane. It was much more subdued. He wasn’t this out-front church leader. His job was to collect and to gather all the things that he had seen and all the things that he had heard, and then he was supposed to write them down in narrative form. That’s called the Gospel of John. Then other things he wrote down in letter form that are the Epistles, 1, 2, and 3 John. Then he wasn’t given the gift of martyrdom. He was given the gift of prison. John was put into prison on the island of Patmos, and he gathered together the visions that he saw there, wrote them down in apocalyptic form so that we can know what to expect so we can know that Jesus wins. That’s called the Book of Revelation.
You tell me which was better, Peter or John? Neither. Both of them had their own path to walk, and that’s what Jesus is saying. Give your best effort in what you’re doing now, church, with where you are now, with the gifts God has given you now, and wait and see where He will take you then, but if you worry about then instead of now, you’ll get so distracted, you’ll never accomplish what He wants you to be doing now, because all you’re thinking about is then.
I’ve seen this happen all the time. When I was an Air Force Officer, I would often meet a young, enlisted man, or even a young officer, and they were dissatisfied in their particular career. They wanted a different rank. They wanted a different career. When I saw this one, young, enlisted, unhappy man not performing in his job, he worked under my leadership, I asked him, “What’s wrong? What’s going on? Why are you not performing your duties the way that you’re called?” He said, “Honestly, Lieutenant Gray, because I want to be like you.” At first, that was humbling, and then I started analyzing what he meant. He goes, “I regret not getting my degree and not becoming an officer instead of being enlisted.” It’s like, okay, so I started him on a process of getting there.
He would always epitomize what I was doing, and that was okay, but then when he realized that wasn’t going to happen soon, I started to see his true heart, because it changed from me to another person of higher rank that was enlisted in his own squadron. He got consumed with them, wanted to be like them, went, when it wasn’t with just another rank inside his enlisted corps where he was, he started looking at other people in other career fields and goes, “I want to be like them.”
On and on and on this went until he was not doing his job effectively again, and I had to go back and have another conversation with him. Here’s what I told him. “You’ve got to be the best version of who you can be right now. Once you’re killing your job right now, God willing, other people will see it, and they will bring you to where you want to be, or God will open a door so that you can be where you want to be, but if you keep doing it like this, thinking about what they have and what you don’t have, it’s going to distract you.” In fact, it already was distracting him. I said, “It is distracting you. Not only will you never be successful, but you will never be satisfied.”
Church, I have a similar message for you. If you’re always thinking about where they’re at in life, what God is going to do with them, are they being called to this, are they being called to that, are you going to receive the same kind of blessings they are, if you’re always worried about if you’re going to look like a loser at your next high school reunion, if you’re always at work, and you’re depressed because you’re only of a certain age with a certain amount of power, getting a certain paycheck, then you’ll always stay in that downward spiral of worried about you. You’ll always be distracted. You’ll never be successful, and you’ll never be satisfied. Give all that you have now, where you’re at, and let God worry about what He is going to bring you into the future.
Not only will you get distracted in your career, but church, what I want to tell you, in your spiritual life it’ll distract you, and it’ll cause you to take your eyes off Jesus.
There’s no worse a place a believer can be than trying to walk and live for Jesus with your eyes off of Him. Keep your eyes on Him. Stay in His Word. Stay faithful and humble in prayer, and He will lead you, He will guide you, and He will direct you.
This week, I want to leave you with something. When you start to take your eyes off Jesus and get distracted by someone else, and their success, or even their failures, hear the words of Jesus, “What does that have to do with you? Love them and pray for them, but don’t be jealous of them. You follow Me.” Church, it’s not that complicated. You just got to ask Jesus for the power to make these choices every single day.
I want to end with an article I read in Forbes Magazine this week. The author was Lisa Quast, and I want to summarize her article with three points. Number one, comparing yourself to others’ accomplishments, you may want to write this down, that’s a losing battle. Comparing yourself to others’ accomplishments is a losing battle. Number two, make a conscious effort, make a conscious decision to free yourself from comparisons. I know it’s hard to not judge yourself by comparing yourself to others, but I’m going to ask you to do it anyway. Number three, learn to celebrate the accomplishments of yourself and others. Let your satisfaction, and your joy, and your version of success come from Christ alone.
The bottom line is, stop comparing yourself to others. If you want to compare yourself to somebody, compare yourself to yourself yesterday so that Jesus can make you into the person He wants you to be tomorrow. How? By locking your eyes on Him and following the path that He has laid out for you.
Church, I don’t know how God is working on your heart this morning, but I know He wants you to respond. Maybe it’s the first point we made today. Maybe you need to, for the first time, see Him as worthy of all that He’s done for you, all that He was, and all that He accomplished in Himself on the cross and the Resurrection. Maybe you need to see Him as worthy for belief. Maybe today, for the first time, you need to repent of your sin, believe upon Him, and have salvation. He will give you a purpose beyond yourself, and He will give you a life worth living. Maybe today is the day that you’re saved, but most of you, like me, are going to apply this message as believers.
Maybe you need to see Jesus as worthy enough to get your full attention, not getting distracted by your own selfishness or your sin, not getting distracted by the circumstances in your life, and not getting distracted by the other people that surround you. You can respond to that today as well. However you respond, I want you to know, at the end of the service, there’s going to be a time where we’re going to have prayer partners up front. Brandon’s always up here. He would love to pray with you. I would love to pray with you about however God is leading you in response to this message. I’m going to pray, and then you’re going to be dismissed on your way. Please, as you leave, be mindful that other people may be making a decision today and give them the freedom to do so. Also, be mindful that you may need to be the one making a decision today.