Message by Pastor Steve Sabol, Lifeway Church
Editor's note: Even though the Lenten Breakfast is canceled for 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, we still wanted to share Steve Sabol's incredibly important message with you during this season of Lent. We thank Pastor Sabol for his timely message and we thank you for your continued support. Please stay tuned next week on LCCM.us, our Facebook page and our newsletter as LCCM sits down and talks with Steve Sabol on video about his message,and faith in a time of global crisis.
We need metrics to measure things. On your Fit Bit, you may have a goal of getting in 15,000 steps a day.
In sports, the team with the most points when time expires wins!
Before I get into talking more about metrics, I want to share Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) with you:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use in
my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed
to lose with my lost saints.
I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life;
and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
The point is, we need a metric by which to measure the success of things, including our love for Jesus. How do we measure the depth and sincerity of our love for the Savior? Three ways. We love him only as much as we love the least, the last and the lost.
Miriam Webster Dictionary defines "Least" this way – adjective, “Lowest in importance or position; smallest in size or degree.”
Jesus taught us about the importance of what we do for “the least of these” in Matthew 25:31-46:
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. he will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.
Then the King will say to those on His right, '"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
Then He will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.
They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you?'
He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."
Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
According to this passage, the basis for our reward rests on the acts of kindness each of us did for others, for in so doing, we did those things for the King himself. We can logically conclude that Jesus himself is present in even the most humble, lowly, or “insignificant” person.
In the words of George MacDonald, "The love of our neighbor is the only door out of the dungeon of self."
How we treat lowly and needy people determines how truly we love Jesus. When Christ-followers who have resources help the needy, the unconnected would be totally convinced of the validity of Christian love.
2. The Last.
Miriam Webster Dictionary defines Last this way: adjective, “Following all the rest; being the only remaining; lowest in rank or standing.”
Matthew 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
This mysterious reversal points out the differences between this life and life in the kingdom. Many people we don’t expect to see in the kingdom will be there. God offers his kingdom to all kinds of people everywhere. God’s grace accepts the world’s outcasts.
No one has a claim to God’s generosity; it is by his grace alone. No one has a claim to position in the kingdom; God will make the appointments—the last and first cannot be earned, bought, or bargained for.
Those who are invisible, who don’t even move the needle of the importance meter even a little. Jesus said the first will be last and the last shall be first.
3. The Lost.
Miriam Webster Dictionary defines Lost this way: – adjective, “Not made use of, won, or claimed.”
What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?
You can get to heaven with an empty stomach (thousands do every day). But you can’t get to heaven with an empty soul!
Lost can mean many things. Lost opportunities. Lost purpose. Lost hope. And of course, spiritually lost. Jesus proclaimed that he came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).
He reminded us of the value of the lost in his trilogy of parables found in Luke 15: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.
Luke 15:7 (TPT), Jesus continued, “In the same way, there will be a glorious celebration in heaven over the rescue of one lost sinner who repents, comes back home, and returns to the fold—more so than for all the righteous people who never strayed away.”
How do I love thee, Jesus? As much as I love the least, the last and the lost.