(A Sermon Outline)
Text: Luke 15:25-30
Introduction: The young prodigal son took his portion of inheritance and squandered it. He enjoyed for a season, wine, women and song. The money soon was gone and he got a job feeding swine. He decided to return to his father and ask for forgiveness and request to be employed as a servant. The father saw him coming home and ran with open arms to greet him. He put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. He put a robe upon him and had a great feast of rejoicing because his son had come home.
The older brother of the prodigal was angry about all of the festivities and told his father that things just did not seem fair. He noted that he not taken his inheritance and squandered it in a distant land. He had remained at home and worked. He basically asked, “Why be good?” In much the same way, people that are trying to serve the Lord and do good often compare their situation in life to those that are not serving God and feel that they are coming up short. They often wonder, “Why be good?”
1. BE GOOD BECAUSE YOU ARE LOOKING IN
You can not run from yourself. People may know about your reputation but not your character. Your true character is what you are in the dark.
The Bible says, “…behold, ye have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) This does not say, “Be sure your sin will be be found out”; but, “Your sin will find you out.” It may be realized through high blood pressure, sleepless nights, unhappiness or the heavy burden of guilt.
I have to live with myself, and so I want to be fit for myself to know. I want to be able as the days go by always to look myself straight in the eye. I don’t want to stand with the setting sun and hate myself for the things I have done. I cannot hide myself from me. I see what others may never see. I know what others may never know; so, whatever happens, I want to be self-respecting and conscience. free.
2. BE GOOD BECAUSE OTHERS ARE LOOKING ON
Paul said, “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” (Romans 14:7)
We influence and impact others. Our family and friends are affected by our actions.
Philosopher Immanuel Kant spoke of “the categorical imperative”; “So live, that if everyone imitated you, it would bring the greatest good to the greatest number.”
When my older son was about five, he was following my footprints in the new fallen snow. He said, “Daddy, don’t take such big steps, I am following your footprints.”
Only one life and it will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.
3. BE GOOD BECAUSE GOD IS LOOKING DOWN
Solomon said, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)
If everyone knew you the way God knows you, would your friends still respect you?
God knows the book of your life from cover to cover. Every chapter, paragraph, sentence, word and letter. He even knows the blank spaces.
The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9)
Goodness begins with salvation and continues with sanctification and will come to fruition with the return of Christ and our glorification.
Unless you have within you that which is above you, you will be defeated by that which is around you.
Conclusion: A pastor had lunch with a husband and wife after Sunday morning worship. The wife was a Christian and a member of the local church. The husband was not. After enjoying the meal, the pastor and husband stepped outside. The husband said, “Pastor, look as far north as you can see; as far south as you can see; as far east as you and see; as far west as you can see.” He then boasted, “I own everything in each direction.” The pastor replied, “That is good. How much do you own it that (he pointed toward heaven) direction?” The husband humbly replied, “Sir, I own nothing in that direction.” The important things in life are not material, but spiritual; not temporal, but eternal.