“I Choose Purpose over Popularity”
From the Series: “I Choose…”
June 11, 2017
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
You know what they say, “You are what you eat. You are what you drink.” So, back in May, I was down in the Preschool and Jamie Gullo our Preschool Administrator is really hot on these Essential Oils. Maybe you’ve seen them or smelled them. They have Essential Oils for the home and Essential Oils for beauty Essential Oils for wellness. Jamie is into these Essential Oils she’s all the time got these infusers spitting out these oils which are supposed to keep everybody healthy or sane or sane and healthy. They smell good so I am good with it. But, on that day, I caught Jamie putting drops of one of those oils, Thieves Oil, into her water bottle to drink it. She is going to drink Thieves Oil. You are what you drink, right? So, we can assume then, that Jamie is a thief. Is that not correct?
Well, the thinking behind this series we are launching today is not, you are what you eat or drink, but more like, you are what you choose. You are a sum total of the choices you make in this life. To a great degree, you are a result of the choices that you made in the past. What you studied in school, the decisions about a college, what you chose as your life’s work, those choices say a lot about who0 you are today. And, essentially, the decisions that you’re making today will determine who you become and what you’re able to do tomorrow. Your choices matter.
For the next four weeks, we're going to be making four very specific choices. Let me tell you about next week. How many of you would be honest and say you're a little bit of a control freak? Raise your hand. Raise the person’s hand next to you because that's what you love to do. You're a control freak. Next week, we're going to talk about choosing surrender over control. Then, the next week, we will discuss choosing discipline over regret. Then, in the final week, we will discuss choosing the important over the urgent. This is going to be a good series, an impactful series. You won’t want to miss it. Today, we are going to talk about choosing purpose over popularity.
- I Can Only Imagine Everybody Likes Me
Now, imagine something with me, if you will. Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that everyone likes you. I mean, everyone. Imagine that everyone approves of you, that everyone approves of everything you do, the choices you make, the way you speak and act, the clothes you wear, the way you part your hair. No matter what, everyone thinks you are awesome. Are you imagining that? How come when I look out at you, I see a whole bunch of you with smiles on your faces. You are smiling as you imagine that everyone likes you. Well, I hope you enjoyed that because it just ain’t so. It will never happen.
- It is an impossibility
If you have a mother-in-law, you know it is an impossibility. Ask Donald Trump and he will tell you that it is an impossibility. No matter what you do, you cannot please everyone.
But—here is the fact of the matter—we all give in to that thinking. This is huge. We all give in to the thinking that what others think of us matters big time. Do you like me? Do you like my clothes? Do these jeans make me look fat? Men, do not, under any circumstances, answer that question. You will always lose. Do you like my hairdo? Do you like my car, my house, my boat? You’ve got a boat? Do you like my sermons? Do you think they are too long? Do you think they are too short? Raise your hand if you think I should preach longer. Do you think my jokes are too corny? What do you know? Do you think my sermons would be better if I preached just what you wanted me to preach, said just the things you wanted me to say to make you feel better, to relieve your guilt, never holding you accountable, of course never stepping on your toes in the least? How would that be if I only preached what you wanted to hear?
If we were the least bit honest, we would have to admit that what others think of us matters. We would have to admit that we all like the approval of people. We all do. But, if we extend that out, if we get influenced too much by the approval of people, pretty soon we are living for the approval of people, the approval of people means everything to us and if that happens, then there are at least two problems we must deal with;
- If you live for the approval of people, it will get your knickers all in a bunch
- You can live by opinion polls
I don’t know about you but there is little worse than bunched up knickers. They’ve got these things in politics called opinion polls. They ask a random sampling—by the way, there is no such thing as a random sampling—they ask a random sampling of people what their opinion is about this issue or that issue, whether they like the president or they don’t like the president, whether they think his hair is real or fake. The problem comes if the president or any legislator basis their practice on these opinion polls. In other words, they are letting the opinions of others dictate what they will do. Of course, in most cases, it is for this thing called political expediency which is a euphemism for, “If I listen to the polls and do what the polls say I should do, I will get re-elected.” The problem is, the polls can be wrong. If we learned anything about the last presidential election, we should have learned that the polls can be wrong. So, the majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal. The majority of Americans believe that homosexual behavior is just an alternative lifestyle, not a sin. The majority of Americans believe that if some high school boy decides on Tuesday that he identifies as a girl, he should be permitted to undress in the girl’s locker room on Wednesday along with your daughter. Don’t think I am kidding about this. I mention this just to illustrate that what people might be saying can be wrong. What they say about you can be wrong. To listen to them can get your knickers in a bunch. And, the other thing is
- What one person says about you might be contradicted by someone else
You ladies ask, “Do these jeans make me look fat?” and your one girlfriend says, “Well, they really do make your hips stick out,” while your other girlfriend says, “Of course not. You go, girl.” Your husband just stands by and says, “You always look great to me, dear.” You guys are learning never to answer that one. So, if one friend says you are fat and another says you are not and your husband is non-committal, do you wear the jeans or not? Aren’t your kickers all bunched up? That is the lesser of the two problems you will have if you live for the approval of people. The greater of the two problems is this—listen carefully now because this is the important stuff;
- If you live for the approval of people, it will keep you from the purposes of God
If you are consumed with what people think of you, you will forget what God thinks of you. Said differently, the fastest way to forget what God thinks of you is to become obsessed with what other people think of you.
- What does God think of you?
Here are four things God thinks about you. First,
You are completely accepted
“Jesus … made us acceptable to God” Titus 3:7 (CEV)
What Jesus did on the cross made you completely acceptable to God — no matter what you’ve done or will do.
You’re unconditionally loved
God doesn’t say, “I love you if …” or “ I love you because …” He says, “I love you — period!” You can’t make God stop loving you, because his love is not based on what you do but on who he is.
“The mountains and hills may crumble, but my love for you will never end.” Isaiah 54:10 (GNT).
You’re totally forgiven
Because Jesus died on the cross and gave his life as a payment for your sins, you are totally forgiven.
“There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT). Romans 8:1
God doesn’t rehearse your sins; he releases them.
You’re considered extremely valuable
There are two things that create value: who owns something, and what somebody’s willing to pay for it. You are a child of God and
“(You) have been bought and paid for by Christ” 1 Corinthians 7:23 (TLB)
Jesus Christ paid for you with his life. That’s how valuable you are. If you are consumed with what people think of you, you will forget what God thinks of you. The fastest way to forget what God thinks of you is to become obsessed with what other people think of you. We are all influenced by what others think of us, but there are some huge problems with that when we live for the approval of other people.
- The Antidote to all That is to Choose Purpose over Popularity
It is to choose purpose over popularity. I’m going to drill down on this and in doing so, I want you to see three things about choosing purpose over popularity.
- Purpose diminishes distractions
One of the greatest distractions we face in life is comparing. It is the comparison game. Enter Moses. This is Charlton Heston, part the Red Sea Moses. This is the guy who was born to a Hebrew woman with the unfortunate name of Jochebel who hid him in a basket in the bulrushes because the Pharaoh had declared that all Hebrew boys should be exterminated. Jochebel hid Moses in a basket in the bulrushes in hopes that Pharaoh’s daughter would find him, have pity on him, and raise him in the Egyptian court, which was exactly what happened. So, Moses was Hebrew by blood but Egyptian by custom. Fast forward X number of years to when Moses was an adult. He is probably at an age when he realizes this kind of dual citizenship. He is in an in-between place.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Hebrews 11:24
Talk about the opportunity for comparisons. The Egyptians could have done the comparison thing and compared Moses to other government officials who were true blue Egyptians. And, the Israelites could look on him and think that this guy is kind of a traitor, how can they trust him. You might remember that Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and Moses killed the Egyptian. You would think that by doing that, he would be considered by them a true blue Israelite. However, some Israelites saw this and reamed Moses out. He was being compared to other Israelites.
Follow Moses story along. He flees to the wilderness, gets married to a woman named Zipporah who had started a cigarette lighter company she called Zippo lighters—that’s not in the Bible, I just made that up. Moses is hanging out in the desert, a fugitive, guilt lurking in his soul, his self-esteem shot, his knickers all bunched up, living for the approval of people keeping him from living for the purposes of God, and God comes to Moses in the burning bush tasking him with a new purpose, to go to Pharaoh and say, “Let my people go.” Now, who in the world would have thought Moses would be the right guy to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. The Egyptians would have laughed at him. The Israelites wouldn’t have trusted him. They might compare Moses to just about any other person and conclude that Moses would be about the last guy to do this. Moses himself knew all this and tried to wiggle his way out of it. But—here comes an important principle—
- God’s purpose for you trumps what others think your purpose should be every single time
God had a purpose for Moses and that trumped what both the Egyptians and the Israelites thought Moses’ purpose was. It trumped what Moses saw as his purpose sitting out there in the desert counting sheep and playing with his Zippo lighter. God’s purpose for you trumps what others think your purpose should be every single time. Do you know God’s purpose for you? Do you know why God has placed you on this earth? The process we use here at Risen Christ, the opportunity we give you in our Base 3 class where you can determine your SHAPE, your Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Ability, Personality, and Experience, how God has molded all of that in your life, that says a lot about what your purpose is. Do you know your purpose? If you can’t yet answer that specifically, you can know this for sure, that you have been brought on this earth to know of God’s love in Jesus, to live in that love and in obedience to Him and His Word, to share that love with others. If you don’t know your specific purpose yet, you can know that much and that will trump what anyone else thinks your purpose should be.
Now, listen, imagine being so consumed with pleasing Christ that the approval of other people doesn't mean so much to you. Imagine waking up every single day with passion and purpose in your life, knowing deep down you are doing what you were created to do. Imagine that that is what drives you and if that is what drives you, then the approval of others will not distract you. Can you imagine that? The Egyptians and the Israelites may have had a different purpose for Moses, but God’s purpose trumped theirs. It just trumped theirs and it will trump yours if you choose God’s purpose.
- You might be saying, “Hey, I am 15 years old and I know nothing about my purpose in life. I am just trying to pass algebra. But, you can know just what I said already, that you were meant to receive God’s love, be obedient to God’s will and share His love with others and that will drive you in your everyday decisions. You take that on as your purpose and you make a conscience decision to remain pure until marriage. Your so called friends are comparing you. They are comparing you to a fuddie duddie, to a prude, but God’s purpose for you trumps their purpose every time.
- You may decide to get out of debt. So you drive around in a clunker and you brown bag it at work and your so called friends are comparing you to a homeless guy or something but God’s purpose for you trumps their purpose every time.
- Your boss is a real zinger, snaps at everybody at work. But, you decide not to pay back evil for evil and so you pray for your boss and try to show her love. Your friends are comparing you to a brown noser or a traitor but God’s purpose for you trumps their purpose every time.
You see, purpose diminishes distractions, the comparison game being one of the greatest. That’s the first thing. Here is the second;
- Purpose pushes you through the pain
Whenever you are doing what God has called you to do, your spiritual enemy will resist you and there will be pain. Back to Moses. He has taken on God’s purpose for him and he gets an audience with the Pharaoh. Moses repeats his deal, “Let my people go.” Moses has some signs to perform indicating that he is sent from God—having his stick turn into a snake, turning the Nile into blood—but the Egyptian priests assembled there just make fun of him. It was painful.
(Moses) chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt…” Hebrews 11:25-26
Moses chose to be mistreated. He chose pain but his purpose pushes him through the pain. Later, after the Israelites escaped Egypt and were tooling around in the desert, the people grumbled against Moses because they didn’t have enough water and they didn’t have enough food and they didn’t like the variety of food. That was painful for Moses. Even his brother Aaron got in on the grumbling. You can imagine Moses going into his tent at night and pleading with God, “What is going on here, God? I am trying to do what you said to do and these ungrateful people are just reaming me out. They are making things really painful.” But, here is the deal, purpose pushes you through the pain. Whenever Moses had those feelings, those painful feelings, he could return to God’s purpose for him, that he was doing what God called him to do and that would push him through the pain. That would move him to keep on going.
Or, think about Jesus. The Romans didn’t want Him making a ruckus. The Jewish leaders wanted to do away with Him. They didn’t want Him leading the people. Even Peter, when Jesus spoke of having to suffer and die on the cross, even Peter said, “May it never be, Lord.” All of that had to be so painful. Jesus was only trying to love people, He was only trying to save the world, and for it He got His head bit off. Yet, His purpose was to go the way of the cross. His purpose was to die for the sins of the world and nothing would distract Him from that purpose. Nothing! Purpose pushes through the pain.
I know a little about this. At my last church, there came a point in which I could not do anything right. If I walked down the hallway, I walked on the wrong side. If I preached a sermon, it was too long or too short or too whatever. One time I was going to visit a member in the hospital but the family said not to come. So, I respected the family’s wishes and I didn’t go. I got criticized for that, too. There was nothing I could do that was right and it was painful. It was extremely painful. All I could do was to try to the best of my ability to follow God’s purpose for me, even in the midst of the pain.
You may have your critics. You may want to do something for the Lord and you may have people criticizing you. You may have the naysayers telling you it can’t be done or it shouldn’t be done or you shouldn’t spend the money on it and their criticism might be really hurtful. It might be painful. But, if you know it is God’s purpose, then doing God’s purpose will push you through the pain.
One word of warning; you need to know what you are doing IS indeed God’s purpose and not your own thinking. I have heard many people say, “God is leading me to do this, that or the other.” But, they need to know that it is God’s will. If it is in the Bible, they are golden. That is His purpose. If not, then discernment is needed. Consulting other Christians is needed. You need fellow Christians with whom you can bounce the idea and hear their counsel before you launch. Then assured of God’s purpose for you, you can push through whatever pain might come.
There was a time when Peter and John were preaching and the religious leaders didn’t like it and had them thrown in jail. When they stood trial, Peter and John were convinced that God’s purpose for them was to keep on preaching and this is what they said to the religious leaders. They said; “We must obey God rather than men.” We must obey God rather than other human being’s opinions. When you know you are obeying God’s purpose for you, that will push you through the pain. Finally,
- Purpose empowers you to please God
We’ve already said that you cannot please everyone. Some days, you can’t please anyone. But, you can please God. Here’s what happened with Moses.
“He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Hebrews 11:25
He couldn’t please the Israelites. He couldn’t please Aaron, his brother. But, he could please God. How could he please God? He could please God by believing. He could please God by obedience. He could please God as He endured pain but still hung in there. He could please God by enduring disgrace for the sake of Christ but remaining true to God’s purpose for Him.
How can you please God? You can please God striving to have a strong faith. You can please God by dying to self and living for Christ. You can please God by being consumed with following Him so that in whatever circumstance you are faced with, you choose God’s purpose. You are not influenced by what others say or think or their comparisons but you seek to please God. You seek to please God. Think about it, what does anybody else’s opinion matter anyway. The only real opinion that matters is God’s anyway. There may be value in being liked by people. There's a far greater value in being loved by God? There may be may be value in your comfort. There's a far greater value in God's calling. There may be value in fun with friends but there's a far greater value in faithfulness to God. There may be value in being popular. There's far greater value in serving God's purpose. You just tell yourself be faithful in the moment. They can say what they want. They can do what they do. I can't please all of them, but I can please God.
So, you might dream of a day when everybody likes you, when everybody approves of you. You can dream of a day when your approval rating goes out the roof. You can dream about it, but it will be just that, a dream. It will be a pipe dream for it will never happen. Never. But, you can choose purpose over popularity. You can choose God’s purpose for you and that will dimish the distractions, push you through the pain and that purpose will empower you to please God. Today, on this day, you can say, “I Choose Purpose over Popularity.”
In Jesus’ name.