Christians Have No Rights – part 11

You don’t have to boast here on this earth. You don’t have to wear a gold ring or a tassel on your hat to show your level of education. God will reveal every deed. Every effort and attitude will be made known (Hebrews 4:12-13). We will be surprised by what we are rewarded for. If you boast here on earth, you can actually lose your reward in heaven (Matthew 6:4-6). If you do things to show off, even if it is because you want respect, you lost have your reward for the good you did because you are boasting in pride about it.

All Christians will struggle with these things to some degree. It will be a personal battle for everyone every day to remain humble and acknowledge God as the one source of all good. We have to pay attention to the Holy Spirit and listen to him. We have to be careful not to let our natural fallen man raise from the dead. It is a fight to the death but if you keep fighting, you will see fruit. That leaf will fall from the tree and you won’t battle with it anymore. Then you are able to move on to harder things.

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven”.

(NIV, Matthew 6:1)

Why would Jesus have to tell us to not do our acts of righteousness in front of other people? It’s because we crave attention and recognition. The natural fallen man (the carnal man or the flesh in some translations) is proud and wants to show off his good works. We crave respect and admiration. We want people to admire us for what we (in our mind) have done. Actually, if all good we do comes from the Father, then it is true that our works are as filthy rags. We know many of these truths about the Bible, but it’s as though we are not aware that they really apply to us. We don’t take them to heart. We quickly read over verses and hope that they won’t catch up to us. We are unaware of our sinful arrogant attitudes. As time goes on, pride and arrogance become so prevalent that it seems normal. If you don’t recognize it, look for division, quarreling, and offenses. If you see these three things in the circle you are in, there is pride and arrogance for sure. Pray for God to reveal them to you. He really wants to take these things out of the body. Our attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ and we must be like him in all of our ways of leadership. He has prepared good works in advance that he wants us to do. We just have to get out of his way.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

(NIV, Ephesians 2:8-10)

Jesus knew that he had to disciple these men so that they would extend his kingdom into all nations. He knew that they needed a specific attitude in order to complete his great commission. If they had a superior attitude, they would begin to be served, his kingdom would not be extended and as a result, millions of souls would perish. They had to fully understand that they were servants and that they were the kind of servants that plow fields or tend sheep. Jesus was the one true leader. And Jesus did not expect his disciples to do things that he wasn’t willing to do himself. He had this attitude as well.

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”.

(NIV, Philippians 2:8)

He was the servant of us all. He made himself nothing. He relinquished all his rights. He gave them up. He had no rights. He gave up his right to respect and expects us to do the same. He is not asking us to do something that he himself has not done. Jesus was the first son, the first Messiah, the first slave of all. He kept nothing to himself, not even his own desires. He took on the very nature of a servant who plows or tends flocks. It is a good thing that he is our mediator and atones for our great sin of pride.

“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”.

(NIV, John 12:25)

Christians Do Not Have the Right to Their Own Life: We do not have the right to anything and this includes our own life. If we can accept this truth, it will transform our distorted view of leadership. The Christian leader does not have the right to be obeyed. The Christian leader does not have the right to be followed. The Christian leader does not have the right to recognition, esteem, praise, or applause. The Christian leader does not have the right to judge or take revenge. The Christian leader does not have the right to hold unforgiveness in his heart. If we are not allowed to hold unforgiveness against others if we cannot sue others if we cannot count the wrongs of others, why would we have the right to do anything else against others? (1 Corinthians 13:5). We are to turn the other cheek, meaning we don’t have the right to fight back (Matthew 5:39). We have to pray for those who persecute us, so we don’t have the right to take revenge and persecute them back. We have to love our enemies, so we don’t have the right to wage war against those who wage war on us. No matter what anyone does to you, and no matter what happens to you, you do not have a right to react. This is complete humility. This level of humility comes into your life when you realize who you are in God’s realm. This realization comes from him by grace. You have sinned and need God’s mercy and grace and forgiveness. Once he gives it to you, you must extend that same mercy and grace and forgiveness to others. (Acts 8:32) The requirement that you turn the other cheek is for your humility, but also so that you don’t sin against the one who struck you by reacting to their aggression. You do not have the right to rights. There is really no time to waste fighting for your rights. Many Christians are caught up in the latest cause defending their rights while one-third of people in the world don’t even know Christ exists. There is literally no time to react against anyone, anything, or any event that would involve you with someone else’s sinfulness.

People need Christ, not justice. Once people have Christ, if they get justice fine, if not, they being Christians have no right to it now. Slaves have no rights. All matters will be settled in eternity and for eternity by God who is a just God. He is the judge. How much more justice could one ask for: God will bring all people before his judgment and punish all wickedness (Romans 12:19). All means all. The issue here is not about my personal justice but my personal situation regarding my eternal life. If I don’t have eternal life, what does it matter if I have justice? (Luke 12:4-5) If I have eternal life, what does it matter if I have justice or not? This material world has a time limit, and it will not keep turning forever.

God’s ways will allow the Christian body to move ahead advancing his kingdom without hindrances if we can let go of our rights. If the Christian body would only have spent their time advancing God’s kingdom instead of wasting it on their own personal rights and rights of others, we might have seen the return of Christ by now. Jesus did not want his disciples to get entangled in the personal dealings of the world. He knew the world would be cruel and unjust to his disciples. So he simply removed the rights issue altogether. It was for the extension of the message that would save all mankind, not because he wanted to be cruel to us or teach us a spiritual lesson. It is just what needed to be done to quickly facilitate the Good News to the uttermost parts of the world. The disciples had all rights taken away. They were given none! Many of his parables speak of this radical new model. Read the Gospels through looking for it. (1 Corinthians 4:12-1;4 9:12)

Letting go of your rights is to facilitate the speedy and efficent spread of the Gospel in the world

The fact that we do not have rights is, in itself, a form of suffering. It is a requirement that Christians suffer even more if they have not denied themselves. This is why we must deny ourselves. It is for the extension of the Gospel. We must participate in his sufferings. If we do, we are participating with him in the same sufferings that he suffered so that we can identify with him and partake in his eternal life (Matthew 20:23; Mark 10:30; Acts 5:41; Romans 5:3; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5 and 12:10; Philippians 3:10; Hebrews 2:10; 1 Peter 4:12-19).

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do..” “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed”.

(NIV, 1 Peter 4:1-3 & 13)

We are not given rights and this in itself is suffering. It would be much easier to just do what all the other pagans are doing and take up causes and seek human rights and justice against wickedness. They are trying to convince a wicked system to not be wicked. We are given the command to suffer with him. We are even commanded to take up a cross, and this is explicit. We die to ourselves and our own desires for our lives. That death is one arrived at by suffering. Humility at this level requires suffering. If someone strikes you on the one cheek and you turn the other, that requires suffering to your own pride and self-dignity.  You have no right to dignity either. What is dignity? The quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed. Remember that the one who plants and waters is nothing. Nothing means nothing. We are unworthy servants. Our own righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We must participate in the death of Christ in order to participate in the life of Christ.

Hebrews chapter two tells us, “How shall we escape punishment if we ignore such a great salvation?” We were bought with a price by the shedding of Christ’s blood for us on the cross. Because we were bought with that price we do not have “the right” to serve him, we are “obligated” to serve him. We serve him because we are “obligated” not because it is our right. We don’t serve him to be saved. He saves us by mercy because he loves us. We serve him because he already purchased our salvation. We will bow our knees now or on judgment day. You decide. You have the right to decide to stay in your stubborn pride picking and choosing what parts of Christianity are convenient for you. But eventually, your knee will bow. Do it now in this life Get involved in the speedy and efficient spread of the Gospel in the world. Those who do not serve him in this life will pay the price in the afterlife for not recognizing his great gift of salvation. I hear people say “God is a gentleman and he will not force you to do his will.” This is not entirely true, every knee will bow before God before all are sent to their eternal places. Sooner or later he will force you to bow your knees to Jesus Christ. All people everywhere will bow their knees to the Messiah the Son of God the Father. You can do it now, or after your physical death (Romans 14:10-12).

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

The word Lord is found more than 600 times in the New Testament. That’s because Jesus is Lord! He is so high that our works and righteous deeds are irrelevant and gain nothing. It’s our actions of humility, recognizing that he is Lord that gains us greatness in his spiritual kingdom. If we humble ourselves he will lift us up. Our works done in our own strength and flesh will bring us down and lower us in his spiritual kingdom.

How do you know if your works are not being done in his strength? They are for you and for your rights or your self-interests. Do you look for respect, recognition, praise, attention, a sense of accomplishment when you do your works? How do you know if your works are being done in his strength? By faith and by the fruit they produce. Only then will you get fruit because they are done in his strength and not yours. When they are done in his strength, the works are of him and humility is the fruit. When you do works, do not let your right hand know what your left is doing. If you recognize who you are, and that you are nothing, your works will be done in secret when possible. If you do works to be seen by others so that you can boast, they are dead works (Romans 4:1-7). All works are dead works will not buy one minute of eternal life. Eternal life was purchased for us by his blood (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; John 6:53-54; John 19:34; Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 9:11-28; Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 5:6-8; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:9). So because he purchased our forgiveness and salvation with his blood, we now must share with him in his sufferings. We do not have the right to participate in his sufferings, we must participate. He died and we must die. We must be obedient unto death. If we do, we are participating with him so that we can share in his glory, because he loves us and has mercy on us. If we do not suffer and die, we are not humbling ourselves, we are not bowing down on our knees. We are not recognizing ourselves as servants of the Lord. He is either your Lord or he isn’t. The Lord will not share his lordship with you.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”.

(NIV, Colossians 1:15)

If you are to become a leader in Christ’s estimation, you must have a correct estimation of yourself. You have no right to boast about your suffering. The sufferings that are required to be advancing the kingdom of God are a normal part of the Christian life and therefore nothing to boast about. You must go through them in order to partake of his resurrection. You should not boast about your sufferings. Your leadership depends on your understanding of your position in Christ. Your leadership depends on your view of the world and of yourself. The world is his creation and you are the servant upon whom the master has bestowed grace. If you lower yourself to those with no rights, you will be serving those around you selflessly. If you lower yourself, your selfish pride will suffer. And those who come to bring discouragement will enjoy the fact that you lower yourself. They will make you feel bad about being low. They will tell you that you have the right to be high. They will tell you that you are missing out on being high up where they think they are.

Leadership does not acknowledge itself as a leader. If you go around telling others that you are the leader, you are probably already disqualified. If you want to be a leader of others, your heart is in the wrong place. If you want to be a leader, you will try to work for it. You will try to earn it and because you worked so hard, you will feel as though you have the right to be in leadership. You will feel as though you’ve earned it. You will feel you have the right to receive respect from others. After all, you worked harder than all of the rest. And because you worked harder, you will feel you have the authority and right to give out orders that need to be obeyed by others. You will feel that you have the right to be obeyed because you are deserving of it. But life is not about us and our leadership. Life is about Christ and his leadership. The one who plants and the one who waters are nothing (1 Corinthians 3:7). If you are being followed and people are calling you the leader, you have gone astray. If you are being obeyed and you feel the power over people, you have gone astray.

Jesus was not going to be able to keep himself from going to the cross. The Father ordered it. And because Jesus was going to be obedient unto death, he followed that order. God called him out of the grave and he obeyed this order as well. We have no power, no rights, and no authority that does not initiate with God. True spiritual authority is divine and can only be given as a gift by grace. In this world, the only authority we have is to cast out evil spirits and perform signs. And even those are for the speedy and efficient spread of the Gospel message. (Mark 16:20) They are not to show our authority. This spiritual authority is also given as a gift through his mercy toward us. It is not deserved or worked for. It is not attained by seniority or personal struggle. If you desire the authority to cast out evil spirits and perform signs, you are on the wrong path to spiritual leadership. We should only want to see his will done. If he uses his power or authority through us, so be it. It is nothing to us. We only did what we were ordered to do. That is why all the glory for Jesus’s death on the cross and the power of the resurrection return to the father.

If you want to be great, you must be humble. But something is wrong with the wanting for greatness. True greatness comes through dying to self because a dead man wants no glory. A dead man will not think that he has earned it. A dead man will not gloat. A dead man will not want to be great but will want only to magnify the name of God. If you want to be honored, you must take the last seat at the table. But something is wrong with wanting to be honored. If you take the last seat, it should be because you are perfectly willing to remain in the last seat without being honored. If you want to be first you will be last so you must be last. But there is something alive in you still if you are wanting to be first. You must be last and have no intention of being put first because you went to the last place. If you let everyone else go before you in the line, you will be put first in God’s line. Be last, be low, and be humble. Don’t think about how humble you are or that will also disqualify you. Get so busy obeying God and others that you forget about yourself. Forget about being great, being first, and being in authority. He needs to change what you think you know about leadership. So get busy living by getting busy dying.