Just for the Love of God
August 10th, 1997 @ 7:30 PM
Matthew 19, 20
JUST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Matthew 19, 20
8-10-97 7:30 p.m.
The sermon tonight is an expository message. It is the last half of the nineteenth chapter of Matthew and the first half of the twentieth chapter. So we begin by my reading the first half of the twentieth chapter:
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard.
And when he had agreed—
Now you remember that word—
And when he had signed the covenant with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And he went out about the third hour, at nine o’clock, and did the same.
Go ye into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you.
And he went out about the sixth hour, that is at twelve noon, and did likewise.
And about the eleventh hour, at five o’clock, he went out and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
They say, Because no man hath hired us. And the lord said, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire.
And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, at five o’clock, they received every man a denarius, a day’s pay.
But when the first came, who started to work at six o’clock that morning, when the first came they supposed they should have received more; and they likewise received a denarius.
And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
Saying, These last have wrought but one hour in the heat and burden of the day.
But the lord answered one of them and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou—
Remember that word—
Agree, sign a covenant? Did you not agree with me for a penny, a denarius a day?
Take that is thine, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
Sweet people, I avow to you I never read anything as unfair as that. Oh, what the AF of L, and the CIO, and the federal Federation of Labor would say about that! These that worked just one hour, from five until six, received the same pay that these who had worked twelve hours throughout the day.
Well, the problem lies in the way your Bible is printed. Up here before the twentieth chapter there is a headline, there is a chapter heading. Consequently, you read what I have just read as separate and apart; and that destroys the message. What is written here in the first half of the twentieth chapter belongs to the last half of the nineteenth chapter.
So we’ll look at the nineteenth chapter. The Lord is on the other side of the Jordan; He is in the eastern [Matthew 19:1], and He is walking up to Jerusalem to be crucified [Matthew 20:17-19]. “And, behold, as He walked along, there came one and said unto Him, Didaskale agathe, What shall I do that I may have eternal life?” [Matthew 19:16]. And the Lord noticed it. “And the Lord said unto him, Why callest thou Me agathe, good, as God? Why call Me agathe? there is none good, really good, but One, and that is God: but if you will enter the kingdom, keep the commandments” [Matthew 19:17]. “And the young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” [Matthew 19:20].
And this is told twice in the Bible: in Mark, and here in Matthew. And Mark says that as the young man knelt there before Him, “Jesus loved him” [Mark 10:21]. And I can understand. Jesus loved him. When Nicodemus came to see our Lord, he came at night [John 3:1-2]; but this young man, called a rich young ruler in the Bible [Luke 18:18, 23], this young man came in broad daylight, where the whole earth could see him, knelt before the Lord Jesus [Mark 10:17], who was just to be crucified, knelt before Him, and said, “All of these commandments have I kept from the days I was a youth” [Matthew 19:20; Mark 10:20]. No wonder the Bible says, “And Jesus loved him” [Mark 10:21].
“And Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be teleios,” translated here “perfect” [Matthew 19:21]. To us “perfect” means “without sin.” Teleios in the Greek means, up there in heaven, you obey and keep sacred God’s will for your life, and that is a teleios life. “If you will be teleios, take what you have, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me” [Matthew 19:21].
I want to make a comment here. I think the Lord was calling the young man to take the place of the man who betrayed Him [Matthew 26:25, 47-50]. “You come and follow Me [Matthew 19:21]. You be one of My disciples. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” [Matthew 19:22].
Now may I make a comment, before I go on with that passage? There’s no one of you, our pastor, the fellowship of deacons, our Sunday school teachers, you, there’s no one of you but must give up something for Jesus’ sake. Life is just like that. There will be something in your life that you have to give up to follow Jesus. Just like this young fellow: “You love money more than you love God: get rid of it, give it away, bestow it upon the poor: and come follow Me” [Matthew 19:21].
There is an incident, a tragic one, in my congregation, in the days when I pastored here, that was just beyond description. There was a young woman who belonged to our church, a precious young woman, one of the most devout you could ever have known. And she was married to an airline pilot on an international schedule. I talked to that young man endlessly about giving his heart to Jesus and coming into the fellowship of our dear church, along with his wife. And he would always reply, “I drink liquor. I am addicted to liquor, and I’m not coming down that aisle as long as I drink.”
On a Tuesday, on a Tuesday, I said to him, “For the Lord’s sake and for Jesus’ sake, give up that liquor, and come down the aisle and give your life to the Lord Jesus.” And he said to me, “I don’t drink while I am flying. I just drink when I am alone. And I am not going to give it up.” That was his answer. That was his answer on Tuesday. On Thursday, on Thursday, he piloted his plane into Chicago, and in a minutiae of misjudgment, when his plane came down the wheels hit a signboard. He killed himself. He killed all of his staff. And he killed every passenger in the plane.
Life in the name of Christ is always a giving up. And there will be something in your life that you will have to give up to love Jesus and follow Him.
So, Simon Peter was always versatile; always full of verbiage, always finding things to comment on. So it says here, “When the disciples heard that, they were exceedingly amazed [Matthew 19:25]. Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what are we going to get out of it? What shall we have therefore?” [Matthew 19:27]. And that gave me rise for the title of this exposition, Just for the Love of God. “And the Lord said to him, There is not anyone who gives up something for Me, but he will receive a reward in heaven [Matthew 19:28-29]. But,” and then you come to the twentieth chapter, “But I do not want you working for Me for what you get out of it. I want you working for Me just for the love of God; and leave the reward to heaven” [Matthew 20:1-16, 22:37].
Well, I have been a pastor over seventy-one years. And in those years there’s not anything that I have seen and observed as common as, what somebody does, they’re doing it for praise. They want to be advanced. They want to be congratulated. It is true of some in the choir. They want to sing solos so that people will exalt them. It is true in the Sunday school. I went to one of our men here in the church, and I said, “We have a large class of junior boys. Would you teach them?” He said, “No, I will not. But if you have a big class of men, I would love to teach that”; to be praised, to be honored.
And I do not know of anybody in any profession of which that is more characteristic than the preacher. Dear me! How I have seen that! “They pay more. I make a bigger salary. I’m going there.” “The church has prestige, and I’m going there.” “The church is the leader in all of that part of the community, and I’m going there.” What a shame! What a tragedy! Not for the love of God but for what I can get out of it.
“Where shall I work today, dear Lord?”
And my love flowed full and free.
And the Lord pointed out a tiny place
And said, “Tend that for Me.”
When I answered, I said, “Lord, not there!
Why, nobody could ever see,
No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me!”
When the Lord answered, He was not harsh;
He answered me tenderly,
“Tell Me, precious child of Mine,
Are you working for them or for Me?
Nazareth was a little place, and so was Galilee.”
[based on “A Little Place for Me,” V. Raymond Edman, 1948]
Doing our work just for the love of God, not for what we get out of it, as Peter said; but as Jesus says: just loving God, “and leave the reward to Me” [Matthew 20:1-16, 22:37].
I never read a more moving story in my life than this one. In the days of Theodore Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, he loved to go on safaris, he loved to go on big game hunts, he loved to go wherever he could hunt. So after a safari in Africa, he got on a boat to come home to the United States. It just happened to be that on that same boat there was an old, broken-down missionary, with his old, broken-down wife. And they were coming home to die. Well, on the ship the whole group, crew and all, were cognizant of the president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt. And all of the trip home was filled with words of appreciation and honor for the president of the United States. But nobody paid any attention to the old broken-down missionary and his old broken-down wife.
When the ship landed at the port at home in America, the Marine band was there playing a welcome for the president of the United States, and the throng was there to receive back home the president of the United States. And sure enough, that old broken-down missionary, with his wife, walked down the gangplank alone, pulling his luggage. That night, in a cheap hotel room, the old broken-down missionary began to complain to his wife, and he told God all about it. “President Roosevelt, on a safari, comes home amid the plaudits of the people, and we come home and there’s not a soul to greet us, and not anyone to meet us.”
The old, dear wife said to her husband, “Son, precious, I don’t know how to answer. I don’t know what to say. But I’m going to leave the room, and you get on your knees, and you ask God why.” So she left the room, softly closed the door, and the old missionary got down on his knees. And he told God all about it. “The president of the United States comes home and the throngs welcome him, and my wife and I come home and there’s not a soul to greet us.”
You know what happened? God came down from heaven and put His arms around that old missionary and said, “But missionary, but missionary, you are not home yet. You are not home yet.” Just for the love of God, working for Him, and leave the reward in His gracious hands [Matthew 20:1-16, 22:37].
So I attended, in these years gone by, the annual meeting of our missionaries in Ogbomosho, Nigeria. And as I sat there and listened to the reports of those missionaries, O God, how I rejoiced! And especially in the report of a young doctor. I happened to be seated by Theron Rankin, who was the executive leader of our Foreign Mission Board. He turned to me, and he said, “You listen to that young man. You look at him real good. And after the service is done, I want to tell you about him.” Well, when the convocation was over, Dr. Theron Rankin walked out with me and said about that young man; he was a graduate of one of the great medical schools on the eastern seaboard. He was the most gifted in his class. And when he was graduated, all up and down the eastern United States, they sought him. They wanted him in this medical school. They wanted him in this hospital and this house of health. They just sought him everywhere. But he had given his life to be a missionary. And at that time the United States was in a recession, and the Foreign Mission Board was bankrupt. All over this world they had their places of ministry, and they didn’t have the money to support them. I remember that. And that young man went with them to be a missionary to Nigeria, and his salary was $100 a year. Just for the love of God, not what I can get out of it, not for the honor in it, not for the advancement; just working for the love of God and leaving the reward to Him [Matthew 20:1-16:22:37].
I had walked life’s way with an easy tread,
Had followed where comforts and pleasures led;
Until one day in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face.
With station and wealth and rank for my goal,
Much thought for my body, but none for my soul,
I had entered to win in life’s mad race,
When I met the Master face to face.
I had built my castles and reared them high
Until they pierced the blue of the sky.
I had sworn to rule with an iron mace,
When I met the Master face to face.
I met Him and knew Him, and blushed to see
That His eyes, full of sorrow, were fixed on me.
I faltered and fell at His feet that day,
While my castles melted and vanished away.
Melted and vanished, and in their place,
Naught could I see but the Master’s face.
I cried aloud, “Oh, make me meet,
To follow the steps of Thy wounded feet.”
My thought is now for the souls of men,
I lost my life to find it again;
E’er since, one day in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face.
[“Rabboni,” S. T. Carter, Jr., 1899]
Just for the love of God [Matthew 22:37]. “Preacher, you don’t have to promote me. Preacher, you don’t have to recognize me. Preacher, what I’m doing, I’m doing just for the love of God.” And oh! what a precious way to walk, in the footsteps of our Savior.
And while the choir sings that song, somebody you, to give your heart to the Lord; the pastor will be here, you come and give him your hand, and your heart to the Lord Jesus. Somebody here wants to join the church, wonderful; a whole family of you, welcome. And if somebody has a baby that you want to dedicate, you also come. As the Spirit of the Lord leads and speaks to your heart, make it now, while the choir sings and while our pastor waits.