An Audience of One

2016 Messages

Today Adam Tarnow taught from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. In particular, Adam shared from Matthew 6:1-18, where Jesus warns against the hypocrisy of performance. He shares with us the alternative Jesus gives to hypocrisy in living a life of genuine love and response to God's grace.

Adam TarnowMay 29, 2016Matthew 6:1-6:18; Matthew 5:16; Matthew 6:1; Matthew 6:2, 5, 16; Matthew 6:3-4, 6-8, 17-18

In This Series (23)
Something Sweet out of the Ingredients of Sadness
Todd WagnerDec 24, 2016
Why Good Leaders Have Always Written Letters to the Church They Love
Todd WagnerOct 16, 2016
All In With Jesus
Jonathan PokludaOct 4, 2016
The Secret!
Gary StroopeSep 4, 2016
Outrunning Your Past
Rob BarrySep 4, 2016
Faith in Work
John CoxSep 4, 2016
Following Jesus: How He Changes Your Place, People & Priorities - Luke 9:57-62
Blake HolmesAug 15, 2016
Our Purpose in Life
Tyler BriggsAug 14, 2016
Healing, Hearing, and the Hope of the Gospel
Todd WagnerJul 10, 2016
Money, Stuff, and Eternity
David MarvinJun 12, 2016
Living the Word
Derek MathewsJun 12, 2016
Jonathan PokludaJun 5, 2016
An Audience of One
Adam TarnowMay 29, 2016
Mother's Day Message
David MarvinMay 8, 2016
A Biblical Perspective on the Value and Role of Women in Ministry
Todd WagnerMay 8, 2016
Baptism Celebration 2016
Todd WagnerMay 1, 2016
Sabbath: God's Solution to the Addiction of Busyness
Kyle KaiglerApr 24, 2016
Inside Out Church
Garrett RaburnApr 24, 2016
Awaken the Hope of the World
Jonathan PokludaApr 24, 2016
An Evening with the Elders
Todd Wagner, Kyle Thompson, Beau Fournet, Dean MacfarlanApr 10, 2016
Easter: The Greatest Evidence That God Is Real, Good, Powerful and Trustworthy
Todd WagnerMar 27, 2016
Good Friday 2016
Blake Holmes, Philip Ward, Alaina AndersonMar 25, 2016
Resolve to Be Faithful
Todd WagnerJan 3, 2016

In This Series (24)

Good morning, everybody. How are we doing? My name is Adam Tarnow, and I direct the college ministry here. I'm glad to hang out with you guys this morning. Scott was talking about how you don't know what your morning, your week, or the past couple of days has been like, but my morning was crazy.

Fifteen minutes before I was leaving my house to come here, I had gone to pick up a cup of coffee in a ceramic mug, and I dropped it. It splashed and crashed everywhere. I was barefoot, and I stepped on it. I was bleeding, and there was coffee and shards of all this stuff everywhere, 15 minutes before I was about to leave.

This has nothing to do with the sermon. This is just to let you know what you are watching is one of the most courageous acts of manhood known. If I go down, I need a tourniquet, 200 cc of blood… I don't even know if that's a thing, but it sounds like something I heard on ER at one point, so I might need that.

If you have young children who you want to see a manhood event, go get them. Bring them back in here, and they'll watch all that. Anyway, I don't know what kind of morning you've had, but I'm glad to be here looking at God's Word with you guys. Why don't I pray for us, and then we'll dive on in.

Lord, we thank you for this morning. We thank you for your Son, Jesus. We thank you we can sing to you. We thank you that, no matter what kind of weekend we've had, you love and care about us. We can come in here and hear from you, respond to you, and sing to you. We can open up your Word and be instructed by it. Lord, I pray you will move and change us. That's our prayer. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

This weekend, Memorial Day, all the swimming pools are getting ready to open. Was anybody ever a lifeguard, or are you currently a lifeguard? Is that anybody's past? I was a lifeguard for a couple of years, as well. Toward the end of high school and at the beginning of college, I was a lifeguard. There was one summer, one day, I remember. It was right after I had graduated from high school. It was a couple of weeks after that.

There was a day I showed up to work, and I had forgotten my wallet. The reason that was such a big deal was because my boss had always told me, "No matter what, every day you're at the pool, you always have to have your lifeguard certification and CPR certification. If anybody (your bosses, the city, or the county government) shows up to do an inspection, and you are there guarding lives, and you don't have those certifications, that is grounds for dismissal."

That morning, when I showed up and I didn't have my wallet, I was concerned and realized I needed to go find that wallet really quickly. I knew exactly where it was. It was in my dad's car, because I had used his car the night before to go out with my friends. I called my dad and said, "Hey, I forgot my wallet." My dad's office was just a couple of miles away from the pool where I was working. I said, "Do you mind if I swing by really quickly and get my wallet? I need that." He said, "Sure, no problem. Come on by."

I finished my lifeguard shift at that moment, and I had a moment to go drive there. I got in my car, and I was very nervous driving there, because there was something else in that wallet I did not want my dad to see. I not only had those certifications in there, but I also had a fake ID in there.

I don't know if I was more anxious about getting fired or getting caught. I was going over there, and I was not a Christian at the time, but I was doing one of those prayers as I was driving. "Lord, I pray my dad does not look through my wallet right now. He's nosy, and I think he will. I pray this goes well."

I walk in there and get into the office, and there's the receptionist. "Hey, how are you doing? Is my dad in there yet?" "He's in there." I walk into his office and say, "Do you have my wallet?" It was right there on his desk. He goes, "Yeah, I have your wallet." I reach out to get it, and he goes, "Shut the door."

I was like, "Ah. So busted." Sure enough, he goes right to the spot I thought was so well-hidden in that wallet. He goes right to that spot and says, "What is this?" I was like, "That's my fake ID." He goes, "This says 'Denver, Colorado.'" We lived in Maryland. I was like, "I know. That's what makes it good."

He was like, "The name is James Cushman." I'm like, "I know." That's a real person. I've never met him, but if you know James Cushman from Denver, Colorado, he got me in trouble. It said I was 25 (I was 19), and it also said I was 6'11". I'm not 6'11". I'm nowhere close, but I had this story: "Oh, I'm really 6'1". It was a typo."

We had this conversation, he gave me my wallet, and he kept that ID. He said, "Go back to work," so I went back to work like a dog with his tail between his legs. I was ashamed and frustrated. The part that was so frustrating for me or that I felt so bad about was I really didn't even want that fake ID in the first place.

I don't think I would have been able to articulate it as clearly as I can today. I'm now 20 or so odd years beyond that, but I do know at that moment I didn't want that fake ID. I didn't have that fake ID so I could walk into convenience stores and buy cheap beer. That was one of the things I used it for, but I didn't really want it for that.

The reason I had that fake ID, the reason I wanted it, was so I could impress my friends. That's why I had it. I had it not so I could go and do something fun or provide something I legally shouldn't be obtaining. I did it simply so my friends would think I was cool, so they would be encouraged if I showed up, and so they would want me to hang around them. That's why I did it. I did it to impress them.

In fact, what we're going to see this morning is Jesus would call what I was doing with that fake ID, pretending to be something I'm not to impress others… Jesus would say I was being a hypocrite. I was pretending to be somebody I wasn't so I would impress other people. I wish I could sit here and tell you, 20-some odd years later, that's no longer a struggle of mine, that's no longer something I do, or that I no longer act in a certain way to try to impress people, but if I stood up here this morning and told you I no longer did that, I would be lying.

The fact of the matter is, I still am a hypocrite. I still have this temptation, and I often give in to it. I will try to do something to try to impress other people. What makes me so saddened, frustrated, and burdened by this tendency I have in me to try to impress other people is I know one of the number one reasons people don't come to church, leave the church, are not listening and following after Jesus, or turn their backs on this faith we found is because of people like me, hypocrites.

It saddens me to know, after all these years, there's still something in me that wants to impress other people. That desire and those actions are pushing people away from this amazing God we get to worship. I know I contribute to that dysfunction. I know I'm probably not alone. I'm probably not the only one who would stand up here and say, "That's what I do, too. I also am a hypocrite."

Here's where we're going to go this morning. I wanted to start with all that. This morning, we're actually going to take a couple of weeks' break from the book of Acts. This morning, specifically, we're going to go look in a section of the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is this collection of teachings Jesus had that is recorded in the gospel of Matthew in chapters 5, 6, and 7.

Specifically, this morning, we're going to look at Matthew 6:1-18. In this section we're looking at, where Jesus is teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, he's going to be teaching about hypocrisy, about doing things to try to impress other people. As we go through this, we're going to see three things.

First of all, we're going to see Jesus gives us this very clear warning about hypocrisy. We're going to see a warning. Then he goes on and gives some examples, and in these examples, we're going to see there is a reward for hypocrisy. As we go through, toward the end, we're going to see this third point. Not only does Jesus warn us about hypocrisy, not only is there a reward for hypocrisy, but there's an alternative. We don't have to spend our lives trying to do things to impress other people. That's what we're going to see as we go through this passage this morning.

1._ The warning about hypocrisy._ If you have your Bibles, let's open them up to Matthew 6. We'll start in verse 1. Here's what Jesus says: "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

Jesus starts off with this very, very clear warning: "Be careful. Be careful not to live your life trying to impress other people. Be careful. When you do these righteous acts, when you do these things, when you have these deeds, be careful not to do those to be seen by other people." Then he gives us this consequence with this warning. He says, "If you do that, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

With that word reward there, he has one eye on the future and one eye here on the present. What he's talking about is, if we live our lives trying to impress other people, God is going to see that, and he is not going to reward us in eternity with him. When we go and spend eternity with him, Scripture is clear, there's a reward system. Somehow, our actions here on earth that we do to try to impress other people impact eternity and the rewards of eternity.

He has one eye looking toward that, but then he also has another eye, in a sense, with that idea of rewards, that's right here in the present. He's going, "Hey, when you're engaged in those activities, and you're doing things to try to impress other people, not only is there no reward from your Father in heaven, but it's also not pleasing to him now. Be careful."

There's this warning in there like, "Watch out." There's always going to be this temptation to want to try to impress other people. If you know the Sermon on the Mount, it makes total sense that he would give this warning, because just a few verses before Matthew 6, Jesus had this to say in Matthew 5:16. Listen to what he says here: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Early on in this collection of teachings, this sermon, Jesus said, "Let your light shine. Let people see your good deeds so they will glorify your Father in heaven." Then, just a few verses later, he says, "But be careful not to do these good deeds to be seen by people, because if you do, there's going to be no reward, and it's not pleasing to me."

If you guys are sitting there like me, and you're thinking about this, you're looking at 5:16, and you're looking at 6:1, and you go, "How do I know which one I'm in? How do I know if what I'm doing is 5:16 or 6:1? How do I know if I'm doing this for the right reason or for the wrong reason? How do I know which one I'm in?"

It's easy to say. The difference between Matthew 5:16 and Matthew 6:1 is our motives. The difference between whether or not you're practicing your good deeds so others will see them and glorify your Father in heaven or if you're doing it to be seen by them… The difference is your motives, your heart. It's the reason behind your actions, which is incredibly easy to say but is also really scary and sometimes difficult to discern as we're out there living our lives.

Here's the thing. You and I can act in a certain way, and do you know who knows where our motive is? Usually, it's not the other people. Usually it's just us and God. Those are the only ones who know. Think about the people you've seen serve you this morning. Think about the people who were out there faithfully serving in the parking lot, helping you park as you drove in.

They're out there, they have a smile on their face, they're serving, they're pointing you in the right direction, and they're greeting you. You don't know if they were out there to impress you or if they were out there to serve you. You don't know.

When you came in here, you were greeted by amazing people who made you feel welcome. If it was your first time: "Hey, how are you? Do you need help getting where the childcare is or any of that kind of stuff?" You don't know if they were there to try to impress you or serve you. When you walked in here and saw the band and me… You don't know, right now, if I am trying to impress you or love you.

That's what makes this motive thing so difficult. Oftentimes, the only ones who know are we and God. That temptation is always going to be there. Jesus has this warning about hypocrisy, and it's really clear. He says, "Be careful." It is really easy to start off wanting to be in Matthew 5:16 and, like that, you skip over and are now in 6:1. Be careful.

2._ The reward for hypocrisy._ He goes on, and now he starts to give us some examples. Let's look at the second point, this idea that if you and I are making the choices to do things to try to impress people, what's even scarier than the idea that we are the only ones who know is there's a reward for that. We actually get rewarded if we do something to try to impress other people.

As Jesus continues to talk about hypocrisy, he gives three examples of hypocrisy. He's going to go through these, and that's what we're going to look at next. He starts off talking about how we can be hypocrites when we're generous. Then he talks about how we can be hypocrites when we're praying. Then he talks about how we can be hypocrites when we're fasting. Let's look at the beginning part of this as he shares some of these examples. Look here in Matthew 6:2.

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." He goes on to another example. Look down here in Matthew 6:5. It talks about prayer:

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." Look at this last example down in Matthew 6:16. "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full."

What Jesus is doing here is really interesting. He's using these crazy, almost comedic, examples. He's using these examples that are so funny you can imagine the audience is laughing. He's using this hyperbole to make a point. It's not really difficult for us to envision the way these scenarios would possibly go down in our context today. That's not too difficult.

We're not at a synagogue, because we now call it a church, but we're at a place of worship, and there are opportunities to be generous with your money if you wanted to. Imagine at the end of the morning, after we sang some songs, I got up here and said, "Have a great week of worship," and everybody got out of their seats and started heading toward one of these exits, and you saw that giving box right there.

Imagine, if you were doing that, and you saw that giving box, and you remembered, "Oh yeah, I have my trumpet today." You sat over there and you were like, "I have some money in my pocket, I have my trumpet, and nobody's really paying attention to me. I want them to see me give, so here we go. I'm going to blow my trumpet."

"Excuse me, everybody. Now that I have your attention, I'd like to let you know what I have in my pocket right now is $40 USD. I'm going to be giving these dollars, free of charge, out of the generosity of my heart, to you fine members here at Watermark." You put your $40 right in there, and you're just like, "I just want to let you know my name is Adam Tarnow. You spell it T‑A‑R‑N‑O‑W. If you want to name something after me, that's fine. I would get it. That's $40. That's a lot of dollars I just put in there for free."

We can understand how crazy that would be. Imagine the praying example. It's not difficult to imagine what that would look like, because we pray in public a lot. Let's think about another place of worship where we go a lot. Let's think about, maybe, praying at Chick-fil-A. Let's say you're at Chick-fil-A, and your family is there. You're going to pray, but you're not just going to pray for your family. You're going to stand and pray for the whole restaurant.

"Dear God, we thank you it's not Sunday. We thank you for this amazing, fried goodness we have fooled ourselves into somehow believing is healthier than McDonald's. We are so grateful for Chick-fil-A sauce. We pray for the Polynesians, because nobody eats their sauce, and I don't know if that hurts them, but we pray for them. We thank you for the marrying of Icedream and lemonade, and how awesome that is all year. We thank you now, God, as we eat, we can also worship to this instrumental Chris Tomlin music. We know what the lyrics are, Lord. We know. Amen." You guys can all eat.

Or if you're fasting, and you're just… I want to go around and tell everybody if I skipped dessert. I can only imagine the way I would look if I skipped meals. If I showed up at work, I would be wearing burlap with my hair all everywhere, like, "I'm fasting!" I would look like a zombie if I did that.

These are really overt, silly examples, but he's making a point with all this. We do this. We may not be that outlandish, but we do this. Our hypocrisy is a lot subtler. Our hypocrisy looks like this: We show up to 2ndSaturday not to serve but to get Instagram photos. We sign up to go to Haiti not because we have a heart to go serve the nations or to serve Mission of Hope or the people down there in Haiti. We sign up to go to Haiti because we have a heart for some girl we're crushing on. That's why we go.

Our hypocrisy looks like this: We wake up every morning, and we want to read God's Word. It has nothing to do with getting to know God and everything to do with the fact that we're tired of showing up to our Community Group and not having an answer for, "What have you been reading lately?" We just want to have something to tell people.

Our hypocrisy looks like, when we do pray in public, it's really just talking to the other people, not to God. It's trying to remember all the Scriptures we've memorized and make sure our prayers sound theologically accurate in every way. We're really doing that to try to impress other people.

Our hypocrisy looks like this: You're in college, and you go out on a Saturday night, and you sleep in on a Sunday morning. You don't go to church, but you wake up and put on nice clothes like you went to church, and you get your Bible and go to the dining hall. Nobody knows whether or not you went, but you look like you went. That's what our hypocrisy looks like.

Do you know what mine is? One of my moments of hypocrisy I still have in my life is I'm a radio station changer. I listen to different radio stations when I'm alone than when somebody else gets in the car. I listen to sports talk and The Ticket when I'm by myself, and then when a college student gets in the car, or somebody else gets in the car with me, I switch it over to something a pastor should be listening to. Certainly he should not be listening to sports talk, right?

If I'm dropping off my car to get an oil change, I'll switch it to something that maybe looks more acceptable. We all do it. We're all hypocrites, every single one of us. We do things to try to impress other people, and Jesus makes it clear…this is what's so scary about this, guys…there's a reward. Every time we do something to try to impress other people, there's a reward for that.

He said it three times. "If you do that, you will get your reward, and you get it in full." Hear me on this, guys. This reward is not like the reward the FBI would give you if you found one of their most wanted. It's not that kind of reward. This is a reward you would get when you crush Skee-Ball at Chuck E. Cheese's. It's that kind of reward.

You go in and spend $25, and you get your card. You're doing Skee-Ball and making 500s, you get 1,000 tickets, and you think you're getting the remote-control car or the PlayStation. You turn in your tickets and go home, and you got your reward. It's a set of Chinese handcuffs and a shot glass. That's what you got. It's worthless clutter. Like vapor, it's gone.

If you and I do something to impress other people, there's a reward. Here's what it is: For a moment, people will think something positive (or not negative) about you. As we're going to see here, what they think is a vapor. It doesn't last. It's not what we want. He warns us, "Be careful. This temptation to try to impress people is always going to be there. If you do it, there's a reward, but it's worthless. It's clutter in your life. It's not what you want."

3._ The alternative to hypocrisy._ As we wrap up this section, there's now this alternative. There is an alternative to hypocrisy. We don't have to be hypocrites. There's an alternative to it, so let's go back and look. At the end of all these examples, he talks about the alternative. "Rather than doing something to impress other people, do this."

Let's go back up to that example on giving and look at what he says here in Matthew 6:3-4. Rather than standing and announcing it with trumpets, do this: "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Look at what he says here in the example on prayer in verse 6.

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans… Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Look at this example on fasting. Verse 17:

"But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Let me be really clear, here. Jesus is not talking about secrecy and location. What he's teaching here is not to say, "Never, ever, ever, in your life, ever talk about your financial giving. Never talk about that." He's not saying, "Never pray in public or with other people. Whenever you pray, it always must be alone."

He's not saying, "When you fast, if you ever do that, don't ever tell anybody." He's not teaching about location or secrecy right here. He's talking about motives. He's talking about doing the right thing for the right reasons. We know there's an enormous difference between trying to impress people and trying to inform people. There's a big difference between trying to impress people and trying to influence people.

The difference between impressing people and trying to inform or influence is our heart, our motivation. Why are you engaged in that activity? Jesus is trying to remind us the only applause that matters in life is God's. That's it. This temptation we have to impress people means there's this temptation to go out there and chase the accolades and the applause of many.

We try to make sure all these people think all these positive things about us, or they don't think anything negative about us, and they're becoming our fans. They're always telling us, "Atta boy. Way to go." We're impressing them. That temptation is always out there to go chase after that applause, and he says, "That's not the applause that matters." The only applause that matters is God's. The only audience that matters is not the audience of many but the audience of One.

Think about, in our culture, who experiences this all the time. I think about Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. You guys know how this game is going to play out. In 100-120 days, when the football season starts again, there's a Sunday afternoon where Tony Romo throws for 386 yards, three touchdowns, and another rushing touchdown.

All of us are going to be singing his praises. "Tony Romo may be the greatest quarterback ever invented, ever. Not just with the Cowboys… He may be the greatest ever." We are going to be singing his praises, and it is going to be amazing, until the next week. If there's a next week, and he doesn't throw for 386 yards and three touchdowns… Let's say the next week, he throws for 132 yards, three interceptions, and two fumbles.

At that point, we're not singing his praises anymore. At that point, we've all turned on him. Even my wife would be like, "Do you know what? I think I'm better than he is. I think I could do a better job. Why don't they call me?" We all turn. When he's doing well, we're out there cheering and saying he's amazing, and when he's not doing well, we turn on him. Do you know why? Because fans are fickle. Every single fan is fickle.

Can you imagine if Romo were basing all his security on what fans thought about him? If he did that, he would be, or should be, the most emotionally unstable person in Dallas, because we change our minds on him all the time. We're not his friends. We don't love him or care about him. We're fans, and that's what fans do. Fans are fickle. If you and I go around and chase after fans, we're going to experience the same thing.

Long before Romo experienced this, there was another guy who experienced this. It's the guy who's talking, Jesus. Jesus experienced this. He lived this. He wasn't living his life for the audience of many but for the audience of One. If you keep reading in the book of Matthew, you get to chapter 21, and he, too, had a Sunday when he rolled in and there were a bunch of fans.

He had that Sunday when he rolled into Jerusalem in chapter 21, and everybody was excited that Jesus showed up. In fact, they were throwing a party. It was, "Hosanna, hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." They were thrilled Jesus was there. He had all kinds of fans that Sunday in Jerusalem. Then, five days later, everybody had turned.

There was a crowd, but they weren't shouting, "Hosanna," anymore. They weren't saying, "Praise him." The words had completely changed. In chapter 27, they're saying, "Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!" He came down here on a mission, and his mission was not to make sure he had a bunch of fans. His mission was not to pander to the audience of many. When he came down here, he knew he was on a mission from God the Father, and his mission was for an audience of One, so he didn't chase after that reward.

The alternative to hypocrisy is this, and Jesus says it right here three times: The alternative to hypocrisy is to remember your Father sees what is done, and he will reward you. Your Father sees you. When you're being generous, he sees you. When you're praying, he hears you. He knows what you need, even before you ask for it. He sees you, and he hears that. When you fast, he sees that.

The antidote, the alternative, to hypocrisy is just to remember the Father's grace. Because of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, those of us now who claim to be followers of his do not have to perform for anybody anymore. We don't have to perform for God, and we don't have to perform for other people because of God's grace, this amazing mercy, and this gift he's given us. That means there's nothing you and I can do to make God love us more and nothing we can do to make him love us any less.

Hear this: Life is not a performance anymore. We don't have to live our lives performing for God or others. Life is not a performance anymore. Now life is a response to this amazing love and grace and mercy God has shown us, specifically through the person, and the death, burial, and resurrection, of Jesus. That's what we get to do. That's how we don't have to be hypocrites anymore, because we've been set free.

He gives us this warning: "Be careful. If you're not, and you go and chase after all these accolades, there's going to be a reward, but that reward is worthless." If you want to not be a hypocrite, remember God sees you. You've been set free. You don't have to perform anymore. You get to now live your life as a response.

I'll close with this story. I have two boys. Jake is my 7-year-old, and Joshua is my 5-year-old. Last year, Jake was playing in his first organized soccer league. We were playing for the YMCA, and a lot of kids on this team, including Jake, had never played soccer before, so it was their first game.

I was not coaching. I was just a dad on the sidelines. I was watching this game and didn't know how it was going to go. I didn't know if there were going to be a lot of goals scored or no goals scored. Again, like I said, I knew our kids hadn't played a lot of organized soccer. The one thing I knew we had going for us was in this league there were no goalies. That was going to be a very positive thing.

The game starts, and our kids on our team are running around and trying to figure out what's going on. The team we were playing was pretty good. They quickly scored quite a few goals, (three or four in the first quarter), and our boys were having trouble getting the ball down the field.

Toward the end of the second quarter, Jake, my oldest, happened to be near the goal, the ball was kicked to him, he kicked the ball in, and the Tigers had their first goal of the season. The kids were all excited, and the parents were all excited. We're like, "Whoo-hoo. Thank you. No goalies." Everybody was pumped.

The second half goes, and the other team scores a lot of goals. Again, a couple of times, Jake happened to be in the right place at the right time. He actually scored three goals that game, and I think we lost 12-3. At the end of the game, all the kids were coming up to Jake like, "Hey, good job, good job. Way to go score goals." They did the high five, "Good game, good game" thing. Even the coach from the other team came up to Jake and said, "You did really great. You scored goals."

He had all these fans around him congratulating him, and he really didn't know what to do with it. He was overwhelmed, and after everybody dissipated, he was looking on the sidelines. He comes running up to me, and he was like, "Did you see?" I was like, "I saw, man. You kicked the ball in, and it was awesome. You played hard. That time you fell down, you got up and kept going after it. I am so proud of you. That's amazing." I celebrated him.

As I thought about that, I was like, "He had all these fans around him, and he really wasn't playing for them." The only person he really cared about in that moment was me. "Dad, what'd you think?" It was my joy to sit there and say, "Way to go." I sat there and watched all that, and I was like, "That's the way I want to live. I want to forget the noise of what everybody else is possibly thinking or saying. I don't want to play for that audience. I just want to live my life trying to respond to God, knowing he's pleased with what I'm doing."

What's amazing to me, as I think more about that, is even if, on the surface, it may seem like the only reason it was easy to celebrate Jake was because he scored some goals for his team that day, the fact of the matter is this: If Jake had not even touched the soccer ball that day, if he had been tripping over his shoelaces or running the wrong direction, if he had picked the ball up and kicked it over into the other field… If he had done anything in that game and come over to me, I would have greeted him just as enthusiastically and told him he had played hard.

I would have encouraged him and loved on him and celebrated him. Do you know why I would do that? Because my love for him is not based on performance. He's my son. No matter what he does on that field or at home, he's my son. I love him. What's amazing to me is I'm a sinful hypocrite. I'm wicked, and if a sinful hypocrite like me can love my son like that, then how much more must an amazingly perfect, gracious heavenly Father love us, his children?

I don't know where you are this morning, and I don't know what accolades you're chasing after. I don't know who in your life you're trying to impress. I don't know if you're trying to impress your community group or your spouse. Maybe you're chasing after the applause of people around your office, your friends, or your parents. I don't know if you're trying to get your kids to like you or whatever it is.

I don't know who you're trying to impress, but I want to make sure you know that can stop. You don't have to go after all that. If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have been approved. You're approved. God, in his grace, wisdom, mercy, and love, has loved us, and life for us is no longer a performance. It is now a response to what he has done.

You and I can live our lives in Matthew 5:16. We can go out there and let our lights shine so others will see, not so they'll make much of us, because it's not about us performing. We can live our lives and our faith out loud, so they will not see us, but they will glorify our Father in heaven. We don't have to be hypocrites anymore. Amen? Amen. Let me pray for us, and then we'll stand and sing a couple of songs and continue to worship our God.

God, we thank you for your love, grace, and mercy in our lives. We thank you, God, that we don't have to perform. We thank you that, because of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, we've been approved. We don't have to try to impress you or others. Because of your grace and your gospel, we've been set free from that, so, God, we thank you.

God, I pray that every day you would help us to be mindful of Jesus' words, that we will heed that warning and be careful not to try to do things to impress others. I pray our hearts will continue to be unsatisfied when we do get that little reward of people thinking highly of us or not thinking negatively of us. I pray that reward would continue to leave us empty. God, I pray we will continue to remember you see you, and because of your grace, we've been set free. That's what we ask, God. We ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.

It's so amazing to be able to come in here and sing and declare that. It's amazing to remind ourselves that this message of Jesus, this following after Christ, is no longer about what we do. It's no longer about what we do because of what he did, because Jesus died for us. Life isn't a stage. It's not a performance. We don't have to try to go out there and impress people. We don't have to try to impress God. Life is not a stage. It's a response to this unbelievable love he has sent and shown us, namely, in the person of Jesus Christ.

If you're in here this morning, and you can't even wrap your mind around that… You know how you've been playing, not just on the soccer field, but in life. It's hard to believe there would be this God who would forgive you for the things you've done. It's hard to believe there's this God who loves you, and he is delighting in showing you mercy, like we talked about earlier this morning.

If that's you, I invite you to come on up. We would love to talk to you about this amazing Father who we have in heaven, who sees you and sent his Son, Jesus, to die for you. If that's you, please, come forward. We'd love to chat with you. Thanks so much for hanging out with us this morning, guys, and trusting us with some of your time. I hope you guys have an awesome weekend and a great week of worship. We'll see you next week.