Sermon #1040 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: OUR “RATHERS”
Text: Job 32:2 “He justified himself rather than God.”
Scripture Reading: Psalm 84:1-12
Subject: Choices Made By Man
Date: Sunday Morning – August 23, 1992
I am using this text to call your attention to one word – the word “rather.” This word “rather” is found in the Bible numerous times. Its usage is significant and instructive. So I want us to look together at several passages where this word is found.
The title of my message today is Our “Rathers.”
Proposition: Our “rathers” are a true revelation of what we are.
They are a revelation of our judgment and our affection. Our rathers tell what our preferences and choices are; and the things we prefer and choose show the state and condition of our hearts.
When Spurgeon was so afflicted with gout that he had to be out of his pulpit for months every winter, he wrote to his elders and deacons offering to resign as pastor of the church in London, urging them to get a younger, stronger man for the work. They wrote back to him saying, “We would rather have you to preach to us when you are able than hear any other man every week.” By that word “rather,” they expressed to their ailing pastor their love for him, their preference of him. It showed the state and condition of their hearts toward him.
Everyday hundreds of people from Haiti, Cuba, Mexico, Vietnam, and other countries of poverty and oppression put their lives on the line, inspired only by the hope that they might get to live in the United States of America. They would rather be garbage collectors, orange pickers and janitors in this country than be doctors and lawyers in their own homelands!
I remember the Tereyton cigarette commercials that ran on T.V. when I was a boy. They showed pictures of people with black eyes. The person whose eye had been blacked would say, “I’d rather fight than switch.” So that word “rather” is a strong, significant word. It reveals our preferences. It reveals our attitudes. When it is used in a biblical sense, it reveals the state and condition of our hearts.
We all have our “rathers.” We are constantly showing our preferences and making choices. Our “rathers” reveal our desires and our desires cannot be counterfeited. I want us to look into the Word of God at some of the “rathers” of other men and see what we can learn from them about ourselves.
I. We will begin with Job – (Job 32:2).
Here we are told that Elihu’s wrath was kindled against Job, “because he justified himself rather than God.” Job was a believer, a child of God, a truly godly man. The Lord God himself tells us that very plainly. (Job 1:1). But Job was not without fault. At first, he dealt with his trails remarkably. He patiently endured the loss of family, wealth, health, and reputation. In the midst of great trial, he worshipped God. “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God with folly” (1:22). Even when his wife turned on him saying, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.” Job responded, “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Still, “in all this did not Job sin with his lips” (2:9-10).
Job was a remarkable man; but he was only a man. Satan was not done with him yet. He had another, mere subtle trial by which he sought to destroy Job. When Job’s three “friends” came to comfort him in his trouble, rather than being comforters they became judges and accusers.
I know of no trial that is more difficult to deal with in an honorable, God honoring way, than the slanderous accusations of those whom you esteem to be your friends. This is where Job failed; and this is where we are most likely to fail. If you carefully read chapters 3-31, you will see a pitiful sight. These twenty-nine chapters record the accusations made by Job’s three friends against him and Job’s defense of himself. Rather than justifying God. Job justified himself!
· Rather than submitting to God’s providence, Job pitied himself.
· Rather than taking refuge in his God, Job defended his own name.
· Rather than declaring God’s goodness, Job began to question it.
· Rather than justifying himself, Job should have justified God (Ps. 51:4).
What are the lessons in this for us?
A. Don’t be the kind of friend these men were to Job.
B. Don’t respond to the accusations of men by justifying and defending yourself.
C. Always seek to honor and justify God before others.
II. David had his “rather” too – (Ps. 84:10).
“I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” The marginal translation reads, “I would rather sit at the threshold of the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
As he uses the word “rather” David express his love for the Lord God and his preference for him about all things.
A. Here is a Comparison of Places – “The house of God and the tents of wickedness.”
God’s house, the church, family and kingdom of God, is permanent. It will abide forever. The tents of wickedness, whatever they are, are temporary and must soon be destroyed. David’s preference for the house of God was a preference for that which is lasting and everlasting.
B. This is a Comparison of People.
David said he would prefer to be the least in the house of God than the greatest among the ungodly – (Ps. 1:1-6). He preferred being a servant in the house of God than sit in the seat of the mighty among the wicked. The world esteems that man to be great who has health, reputation, fame, and power. David had all of these. But he esteemed that man to be great, whose privilege it was to greet men and women as they came into the house of God and open the door for them.
NOTE: Show me a man or woman who knows God, and I will show you a person whose greatest delight is the worship and service of God – (Read Ps. 84 – Written when David was banished from the house of God.)
III. Turn now to Hebrews 11:24-27 – Here we see that Moses had his “rather.”
The meekest man who ever lived “refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”
There came a time when Moses had to make a choice. He had to take sides. He had to take a position regarding the issues of his day. He had to declare his heart. He had to show where his heart was. So too must you. You cannot sit on the fence forever. Sooner or later, you must decide whether you will follow Christ or satan, whether you will cast your lot with the people of God or with the world.
A. When Moses was a child the decision was made for him.
In his infancy, childhood, and youth he had to stay where he was put. He had been raised in the house of Pharoah. He was trained to be an enemy of God and his people. He had no choice during his childhood. But when he became a man he could no longer hide behind his parents. He had to make a choice. So must you.
1. You have been raised in the house of God.
2. But you cannot hide behind your parents religion – You must make a choice.
· Will you, or will you not, trust Christ?
· Will you, or will you not, cast your lot with the people of God?
· Will you, or will you not, serve our Master?
B. Moses was in line for the throne of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at the time.
He could choose that throne, or he could take up his cross and follow Christ; but he couldn’t do both – He could choose ease and pleasure in the world, or he could follow the path of suffering and sorrow; but he couldn’t choose both. He could choose plenty or poverty, but not both – After counting the cost, he chose Christ. How about you?
C. Moses took the long look of faith and saw that the path of suffering and reproach with God’s people, for Christ’s sake, was greater and rather to be desired than all the treasures of Egypt.
· It was a Costly Decision.
· It was an Informed Decision.
· It was a Deliberate Decision.
· It was the Right Decision – He never regretted it!
IV. Now, let’s look at some of Paul’s “rathers.”
Last week I showed you that Paul was a pattern of true conversion; but he was also an example of what believers and preachers ought to be. He says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1).
A. I Corinthians 14:19
In the early church the gift of tongues was still present. The Holy Spirit, during the apostolic era, gave men the ability to preach in a language they had not learned by study. At Corinth, many had greatly abused that gift. They placed far too much emphasis on it, and perhaps had begun to imitate it even if they did not possess it, like the charismatics of our day.
They preferred “tongues” to usefulness. Those who could speak in tongues appeared to be great and important. Selfish, self-centered, self-serving men sought this gift, neglecting the service of others.
Paul said – “In the church I had rather speak five words with understanding, that I might teach others, than ten thousand words in another tongue.”
NOTE: This raises a question for each of us: What kind of place do I want in the church? A position of honor, or a place of service and usefulness.
· Many will preach who will not work, or even worship!
· Many will teach who will not minister.
· Many will sing who will not serve.
· Many will do something that is seen and admired by all who will do nothing unless it is seen and admired.
1. To Paul the truth of God was precious.
He spent many years in darkness. When the light of Divine truth shined in his heart, he wanted everyone to know the gospel. God had taught him. He was no orator. He would have been a flop as on evangelist in these days. But he spoke plainly and truthfully the gospel of Christ. He spoke so clearly that it was impossible for anyone to mistake his meaning.
a. When he talked about grace, he talked about eternal, sovereign, effectual, saving grace (Eph. 1:3-14; 2:8-9; II Tim. 1:9).
b. When he talked about redemption, he talked about effectual, blood atonement (II Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:12).
c. When he talked about faith, he talked about faith that works by love – Gal. 5:6).
2. The people of God were as precious and dear to Paul as the truth of God was – (I Cor. 12:31-13:13).
He was not interested in impressing men. He was interested in serving men – He worked with his hands, making tents, so that he could preach the gospel and so that he could send others out to preach the gospel. II Cor. 11:7-11).
NOTE: The reason he refused to take Mark with him on his second missionary journey was that Mark had not yet learned to serve (Acts 15:38).
God teach me to be a servant in your house and to your people.
B. II Corinthians 12:7-10.
Paul was not a whiner and a grumbler. He did not sit around feeling sorry for himself. He was glad to be weak and despised if the Lord might be served and magnified. When he said, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ might rest upon me,” Those words imply…
1. Paul’s humble reconciliation to the will of God.
2. His preference of God’s will, his glory, and his cause, above his own desires and comforts.
3. His recognition of his only source of strength – Christ.
“It is only when we are consciously weak in ourselves that we can be strong in Christ.” (C.D. Cole).
C. II Corinthians 5:8.
Paul was hard pressed between two choices. For his own sake he would rather depart and be with Christ; but for the sake of others he was willing to remain a while longer on the earth. (Phil. 1:23).
1. He was confident of his Savior (II Tim. 1:12).
2. He was ready to depart (II Tim. 4:6-8).
3. He was “willing rather” to depart.
When all my labors and trials are o’er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
When by the gift of his infinite grace
I am accorded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on his face
Will through the ages be glory for me.
Friends will be there I have loved long ago;
Joy like a river around me will flow;
Yet, just a smile from my Savior, I know,
Will through the ages be glory for me!
V. Unregenerate, unbelieving, lost men and women also have their “rathers”.
Let me address you who are yet in the way of destruction. I have been talking to you about our “rathers.” But faithfulness to your soul demands that I talk to you about your “rathers” too.
A. The unregenerate, unbelieving people of Jerusalem had their “rather” when they crucified the Lord of glory – (Mark 15:9-14).
When Pilate gave them the opportunity to choose between Christ, the sinless One, and Barabbas, the insurrectionist, they chose to have Barabbas walking their streets rather than the Son of God!
1. Their rather revealed their ignorance.
Had they known who he was, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory!
2. Their rather revealed their unbelief.
· They did not believe the Scriptures.
· They did not believe the Son of God.
3. Their rather revealed their hatred.
They professed to be the children of God; but they hated God and his truth. Therefore they murdered Christ and chose to have Barabbas released to them.
B. You who believe not on the Lord Jesus Christ have your “rathers” too.
1. You choose rather to reject Christ than trust him.
2. You would rather have your way of salvation by your own works than God’s way of salvation by faith in his Son.
3. You would rather have the filthy rags of your self-righteousness than the robe of Christ’s imputed righteousness.
4. You had rather do your own thing, even if it means going to hell, than bow to the rule of Christ as your Lord and Master.
5. You would rather make God a liar than confess your sins and trust the Lord Jesus Christ.
I send you home with this final word – “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (II Peter 1:10).
All of us have our “rathers”; and our “rathers” reveal what we are. They are like an index to a book. As the index shows what is in the book, our “rathers” show what is in our hearts. There is a vast difference between God’s people and the world; and the difference is in their “rathers”, the desires of their hearts.
1. What would you rather do with your life; seek Christ, or seek the world? (Matt. 6:31-34). That which you would rather do is exactly what you will do.
2. What would you rather do with your time when the saints of God meet to worship Christ and hear his Word? – That is exactly what you will do.
3. What would you rather do with your money? That is what you will do.
4. What would you rather do with your family? Lead them in the path of life, or in the path of destruction?
5. What would you rather do with what you have – (Your Time – Your Talents – Your Possessions) – Serve Christ, and his people, and his cause, or serve your pleasures, your lusts, and the world?
Don’t answer these questions lightly. Your “rather” is the desire of your heart; and “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!”