This message is a part of a series of sermons on the basics, but don’t let that fool you! There are some deep and important questions we answer while I tell you “who you are not”. Identity is such an important factor in living, especially in the challenges. Assess your identity as we examine how God addresses this vital question.
I Know Who You are Not 7.1.18
Ever try to narrow down a problem by eliminating what the answer is not? Sure, that’s what multiple choice tests are all about. You look at your set of choices and get rid of the ones you know aren’t right.
(Video of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire played here.)
Who am I?
That’s the deep question we all strive to answer and we reexamine regularly. Who am I is the question that we often pose to little people. One of our grandchildren was acting inappropriately in the doctor’s office while it was his brother’s turn with the doctor. The doctor turned to him and said, “Is that what a five year old does?” Oh, I’m a five year old now and I don’t do that anymore. Identity has a lot to do with how you use your resources.
Jesus gave out of the blue wisdom. As in, not in response to a direct question He makes a statement that teaches us a profound truth.
13 Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” 15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
You are not what you have.
Covetousness is the insatiable desire to acquire more. More money. More house. More car. More power. And it becomes addictive.
How do you know who this guy is? How do you know who this lady is?
I know who you are not. You are not the resources you have. You can demonstrate and find out who you are only by the use of your resources, monetary, possessions, gifts, relationships and opportunities.
11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. 12 Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. 21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
In this parable, a story meant to teach a principle, we see a nobleman who was going away to “receive a kingdom” and then return eventually. This is representative of our time in history. Jesus is the nobleman. And there is a time when He is not visibly present on the Earth. He will return, yes, but for now we have a situation where we have been entrusted with resources. And we’ve been given the command, “Do business till I come.”
The resources given to each of the three were not the same. Ten, five and one. The guy with 10 invested and got 10 more. The guy with 5 invested and got 5 more. The guy with one made sure not to lose the one and returned it when the Nobleman came home. The first two were congratulated and given more resources in the form of cities to oversee. The last guy was rebuked severely and his one mina was taken away from him and given to the guy with 10 already and ten cities to oversee.
So what does this say to us?
For one, each one of us has resources.
And these resources are different from person to person. As I alluded to you, they take the form of relationships, opportunities (that includes time), our spiritual and natural gifts, and our possessions. Money is not your prime resource. If you don’t have much, don’t worry. Just use what you have responsibly.
For some people, resources may seem thin to you. But here’s the thing: you have more than you know. Even the guy who was given one mina. Do you know what a mina is? It was equal to about 3 month’s wages. It wasn’t insignificant, it was substantial.
For another, you are whom you serve.
Last week we talked about your future. I can predict your future by knowing who you listen to. Because whom you listen to is what you becoming. “Show me who you listen to and I’ll show you who you’re becoming.” Craig Groeschel. And we talked about choosing whom you listen to, the wise, the foolish or the wicked, so we had to identify each of those.
This week we’re talking about your identity and answering the question, “Who am I?”You are whom you serve. Your identity is revealed by how you use your resources and for whom. And your identity is shown to be the wise, the foolish or the wicked.
The wise use their resources, what they have, to serve God and His purposes. And His cause and purposes are always good. The wise acquire more in order to serve more. They live for Someone bigger than themselves and for reasons larger than themselves. That doesn’t mean they don’t take care of themselves and lead themselves. But they take care of themselves and lead themselves so that they can better serve Him.
So most of us exercise and get in shape for health reasons, yes, but doesn’t our ego get stroked when someone says, “man, you’re looking good!” You’ve lost some weight, haven’t you.
But I was just with Pastor Timothy from China this past week. When I met him in Beijing years ago and did some prayer walking with a small team, we found out that he worked out pretty seriously. I asked him about it, and he said, well, I work out so that I can be strong in case I get arrested and have to endure torture and prison. He uses his resources for God and His Kingdom.
Question: Are you wise? Or mostly wise, as there’s a continuum.
Your identity could include the foolish, you may be foolish. Fools use what they have to simply serve themselves. To better their own. They don’t serve a purpose bigger than themselves, because that’s all they are out to improve.
Jesus told a parable in Luke 12.
A farm owner had a great year, a great harvest. To the point that he had a problem. He couldn’t contain all the harvest. So he thought about what to do and said, “I’ve got it! I’ll tear down my barns and build mega barns. And then I’ll retire and party for years to come.”
You know what God said to him? “You’re a fool. You’re just in this for yourself, you’re using your resources for yourself and it just so happens that today is the end of your life and all your resources are going to pass to someone else. You’re a fool.”
We have a mixture of wise and foolish in us.
Question: Are you foolish? Do you use your resources for yourself and your own benefit? And when whatever situation you’re in doesn’t seem to serve you well, do you just move on? Take your marbles and go home?
And then you could be wicked. The wicked use their resources to serve the devil and darkness. The wicked hurt and control more and more. And they acquire more to gain image and ease, attempting to secure dominance in their sphere long term.
Question: Are you wicked? Are you using your resources to harm and control others? What, you’re saying this in church? No wicked people here. Are you undermining someone? Repeating gossip? Getting even, vengeful? Those things are you using your resources in a wrong way and are evil!
We’re all a mixture. Our identity isn’t always clear. But you can up your percentages, become wiser and wiser, if you know what you’re not. Eliminate foolish and wicked use of your resources.
So here’s some review questions: