Godís Way or Our Way?
Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that
you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their
thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from
the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the
hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have
given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of
impurity, with a continual lust for more. (NIV)
Rev. 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am
about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, `I am rich; I have
acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that
you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (NIV)
What Jesus says about the Scribes and the PhariseesÖ
Matt. 23: 5 "Everything they do is done for men to see: They
make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6
they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in
the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to
have men call them `Rabbi.' 8 "But you are not to be called
`Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do
not call anyone on earth `father,' for you have one Father, and he is in
heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called `teacher,' for you have one Teacher,
the Christ. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For
whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will
be exalted. (NIV)
Nearly every page of the Bible is a scenario of man battling between
going Godís way or manís own way.
Suffering can produce a glorious result if we let it push our way,
out of the way, and then follow Godís way. We can let suffering humble
us, and when we let suffering humble us, that is the moment when we can
let God have His way. When we want our way, suffering has no meaning and
we ask, "Why?" or "Why Me." or "Why do I have
to go through this?"
To win at life by going Godís way we have to give up to receive
back. To lead others we have to surrender. Surrendering (which means we
go Godís way) is the secret of the ages. Surrendering to Godís way
produces endurance, protection, and armament. Surrendering to Christ
means we inherit or receive eternal life. If we go Godís way, then we
are dead to the Ten Commandments because we always do the two greatest
commandments. And when you love the Lord with all your heart, and all
your soul, and all your might, and you love others as yourselfÖyou
automatically; honor your father and mother, you never lie, you never
commit adultery, you never steal, you never commit murder, and so on.
When you go Godís way, you have to step down to move up. You have
to lose yourself in order to win your soul. You must lose your life to
find it. You must lose your ego to find your true self.
If you let God have His way, suffering will destroy your ego, and the
destroyed ego leads to the highest point in the Kingdom of God.
What are the benefits of Godís way?
1. We experience a peace that passes all understanding, even in the
face of the impossible.
2. We experience a love that fills us and that overflows to others.
3. We experience a caring or a knowledge that God cares for us.
4. We experience compassion from God.
5. We find eternal life through faith.
However, here is another painful truth. It should not make any
difference if there are benefits to going Godís way. Because if we
want the benefits, we have not surrendered to God, and we are not really
going Godís way. It takes wisdom to know that we are to surrender to
God, and to fight for the right. In this life, we often have to fight
off temptations, trials, and tribulations to be all God wants us to be.
What are the benefits of our way? (Our way means, "Taking care
of No. 1.")
If you are going to take care of No. 1, then you will want to accumulate
wealth or money. You will want all the tangible things money can buy,
and you will get the worries, fears, frustrations, and anxieties that go
with wealth or money. In the secular, non-religious world, all the
secular folks will agree that our goal of "Taking care of No.
1" is right but they can all be wrong. We all know, on some level,
that the secular people will support and encourage us right into the
pits of hell.
What are the difficulties of Godís way?
Godís way is not tangible. You cannot see, hear, or touch the
substance of God or His way. With God, pain is often a price we pay.
Paying a price for our faith is not a popular sermon topic today because
too many people want the free and easy road. Sorry. Suffering is a price
you may have to pay to follow in Jesusí footsteps. Denial of self is a
price. We cannot serve our selves and serve God at the same time. To go
Godís way requires that we deny our wants and needs. This idea of
self-denial is also not a popular topic for a sermon. In fact, in the
last days, you may be required to pay for your faith by giving up your
life. If you are required to pay this ultimate price, you will not be
the first person to do so.
To go Godís way you have to believe without seeing. You have to use
faith. However, if we sincerely believe that Christ died for us and we
are willing to die for Him, it does not make any difference if there are
difficulties on the road we travel. If we have surrendered up, we will
not care if there is a pay-off from God.
What are the difficulties of our way? Going our own way means there
is no upward direction except in the eyes of others. When we live to see
ourselves reflected in the eyes of others, then we have to get them to
say how great we are. Going our way means there is no eternal hope for
our life. In addition, any hope we carry within us is something we have
to generate on our own. Going our way means we will experience suffering
and pain without purpose. If, by chance, we discover a purpose to our
pain and suffering, the purpose is one we must assign. In addition,
going our way means we will carry within us an emptiness and darkness.
Persons who are self-consumed and self-absorbed drink alcohol and use
drugs to ease the pain of the emptiness and darkness. When we go our way
instead of Godís way there is the inner gnawing that makes us feel the
need to run and run and run.
What is the price of Godís way?
1. Your life.
2. Everything you are.
3. All that you have.
4. All your possessions.
5. All your children.
6. All your suffering and pain.
However, if we are truly going Godís way it does not make any
difference if there is a price. In addition, we do not care if there is
What is the price of our way?
1. Your time
2. Your money
3. Your effort
4. Your family and family life
5. Your health
6. Your soul
When we go our way, we want a pay-off we can never get. No matter how
much money we haveÖ
No matter how much time we devote to our goalsÖ
No matter how much effort we put into our plansÖ
We will never get back what we really want and need when we try to go
our way instead of His way.
The outcomes of going our way or His way are different. When we go
Godís way, there are both present and eternal outcomes. Selfless
charity begets a love around you. Even in pain and suffering there is a
spiritual comfort and a contentment of mind and spirit when you are
going His way. When faced with fearsome challenges or obstacles you find
courage. With Godís way, there is a fullness of life. Regardless of
your circumstances, you find that God is faithful in being near you and
the ones you love. You will find the inexplicable wonder of Godís
grace, His forgiveness, and through Him, hope. You will also find joy,
companionship, love, freedom, mercy, peace, well being, trust, wisdom,
and a freedom from worry.
When we go our way, there are also present and eternal outcomes. When
we go our way there is not the prospect of eternal life so we must
somehow deal with the realities of deathÖboth the physical and
spiritual. Our way can produce anger, which in turn generates high blood
pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. There is the frustration which
comes from the drive to achieve material things, the continual
discomfort of battling through one day and then another. When we go our
way, we must also deal with fear. There is the fear of tomorrow, fear of
others, fear of life, and the rootless fear called anxiety. When we go
our way, we must also confront the issue of guilt, which is often
unwarranted, but which is still real without forgiveness from God. There
is also the pain of lonelinessÖthere is just us, us alone, and no one
else in our life with whom we can share the outcomes provided by God. We
must also remember that when we go our way there is a hopelessness that
makes us put off until tomorrowÖmenial chores and big issues that
hinder our lives. In our society, which is so consumed with self, there
is the enormous problem of depression. Although not all depression is
caused by spiritual issues, one must wonder, in the secular world, what
kind of answer is there to the questions of "What kind of end is
there?" and "What is the basis for real optimism in
life?" When we go our way, there is a sense of poverty. The poverty
can be monetary, spiritual or both. Material wealth has never been a
guarantee of spiritual plenty. Going our way means we must deal with our
own vulnerability. We must see the reality that we are open to attack,
sickness, darkness, evil, and death. Going our way means we are
prisoners because we are not free to be who God made us to be. We must
also deal with the darkness of failure which hangs like a dark ghost
over us and which causes us to scramble hard to make it to a goal
defined only by ourselves. When we live our life our way, we must deal
with the lurking edginess of distrust, because he who does not tell the
truth cannot trust anyone else.
When we go our way, we can be full of self-confidence for awhile. We
will think we have our life all together until something happens, thenÖwe
find we may not control very much at all.
Ask the victims of the super-storm in India about control.
Ask the victims of the earthquakes in Turkey.
Ask the people who saw all their earthly possessions blown away in the
Oklahoma tornado about control over their lives.
We do not control everything in life.
Ask the people in a hospital bed, or the resident of a nursing home
about control over what happens in life.
We love ourselves and our accomplishments (going our way) until
When we go our way, we can be pushed off the track.
When we go Godís way there is an eternal life force, a love, and a
power called God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit with us.
Who does this idea of going our way or Godís way apply to?
Every human, because every human is tempted to go his own way.
Even Jesus was tempted.
The temptation to go our way is part of the sin plague with which we
How does God teach us to go Godís way?
Through suffering. Through examples of the faith of others. And through
wisdom. However, is suffering fair? Why do the innocent, the just, the
good, and the righteous have to suffer? Why isnít there an earthly
pay-off to suffering? When will my suffering end?
Let us tell the truth here. Let us tell the hard, cold, bitter truth
about these questions. These are selfish questions asked by selfish
Do we have to be willing to be taught to go Godís way? Yes. To go
Godís way requires we surrender our self. To go Godís way requires
we give up and give in.
Why is going Godís way so important? We cannot share with God and
go our way at the same time. Going Godís way is the key to our
survivalÖif we survive as a human race. The lessons about going Godís
way or our way are everywhere. However, will we look, listen, and learn?
From our history, probably not.
Our problem on earth is that human beings who are going their own way
are generally in a war with others who are caught up in going their own
way. This leads to thinking expressed as "we must get them before
they get us or we die".
What does Jesus teach us about going Godís way? He was going Godís
way. He took our sins. He took our desire to go our way with Him to the
Cross. He took our pride with Him to the Cross. We can surrender to Him,
because of Him. The pride that keeps us away from God, He bore on the
Cross, so we could be near to God. And be near God for ETERNITY. Not too
many people fully take in the meaning of the Cross. Because to
understand the Cross we must let our ego evaporate in Godís love.
How does going Godís way connect to our culture? It does not. Our
culture is based upon pride, ego, success, and achievement for the self.
Every bit of advertising works on our pride, ego, vanity, need for
success, and achievement. Millions have died and will die over pride.
Germany was humiliated in W.W.I. Then German pride was stirred up by an
egomaniac named Hitler, which started W.W.II.
How does going Godís way connect to the world culture? In the world
culture there isÖland to be conquered, wealth to be gained, and
power to be retained and increased. In addition, in most military
conflicts today there is never a surrender of any kind because victory
is ill defined.
What does going Godís way have to do with connecting to God? Going
Godís way is the way to connect to God. Pride is the wall between man
and God. Pride teaches meÖI can do this on my own. I do not need God.
Going Godís way is the stairway to heaven. Going our way is the
stairway to hell.
Job 11: 13 "Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out
your hands to him, 14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and
allow no evil to dwell in your tent, 15 then you will lift up your face
without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. 16 You will surely
forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. 17 Life will
be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. 18 You
will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take
your rest in safety. 19 You will lie down, with no one to make you
afraid, and many will court your favor. (NIV)
Job had lost everything and everyone. In one respect, look how
ludicrous it is to talk to Job about tomorrow. Look how incredibly
abrasive to rub his losses in his face. How terribly insensitive to say
this to a person who is so devastated. However, the words of these
verses are the truth, and they contain the hope, care, and tenderness we
all need. Going Godís way is a choice. In Verse 13, we see that we
must devote our heart and stretch out our hand to God. Clearly, going
Godís way is a choice.
Whose way will you choose today? When you give thanks this week,
thank our Lord that you have a choice and can go His way.