Message from Jon Tisevich
In week three of our Never Enough series, we are looking at the sobering reality that apart from Jesus, with our own human thinking and abilities, our own good deeds, we are never enough to live up to God’s standard, to be seen as righteous. BUT GOD, through CHRIST, makes us enough to die for.
On my own, I’m never enough, but with Jesus, I’m more than enough.
Last week, David delivered a powerful message of healing and hope for anyone who has been through a divorce or has family or friends who have been affected by divorce. Please check out last week’s message if you missed it.
This week, we’re going to be talking about sex.
I’m kidding, that’s for another day! If you haven’t seen the last two messages, check them out online.
Today, we’re going to be talking about what it looks like to be a person of character. We’re all developing character, every day, but is it healthy character?
In Matthew 5:33, Jesus says, “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."
Today, right now…is your YES, YES and your NO, NO?
Are you a person of your word? Are you trustworthy?
What type of character has been developed, is being developed in you?
This is something every one of us deals with on a daily basis.
If we asked your best friend or spouse if you were a person of your word, how would they respond?
When your spouse asked you to take out the trash and you said you would, did you?
When your best friend asked you to keep a secret, did you?
Being trustworthy, having integrity…this is all about character. Our word and our words and how we use them tells a lot about who we are on the inside.
In the Old Testament, a person was permitted to swear by the name of God to substantiate an important promise or commitment. Old Testament Law then demanded a person be true to any oath sworn using the name of God.
Some folks in Jesus’ day started to make the Old Testament’s permission to make an oath using God’s name as a way of saying ONLY oaths that invoked the name of the Lord were binding.
So, if a person wasn’t really serious about an oath, they would swear by "less sacred" things like “I swear by heaven,” “I swear by earth,” “I swear by my mama." And since the person didn’t invoke the literal name of God, then the oath wasn’t binding.
So, people started manipulating the law, using the oath loophole to get away with doing and saying things they never really intended on doing or saying. People are people no matter what the year is, because we still do this today.
What oath loophole do you use? I swear to you I’ll do the dishes (just kidding, my fingers were crossed)! I swear on my mother’s grave I love your meatloaf (I don’t really like my mom, or meatloaf, so…)! I swear….I promise…for real…
Listen, someone who says “for real” all the time probably isn’t being for real.
Our inability to be real or honest, in ALL conversations, whether they’re light-hearted or serious, is an indication of underlying character issue.
In this text in Matthew, Jesus is speaking to the heart...what kind of person are you on the inside? When no one is looking? A person of integrity or a person looking for a loophole?
Are you able to speak truth from the heart at all times or does your word crumble under the pressure of what others may think or fear of offending someone?
In Jesus’ statement that "anything beyond this comes from the evil one", Jesus is saying not being able to let your word, your YES or NO be enough, can only come from one source…our enemy, the great deceiver.
In the gospel of John, chapter 8, verse 44, Jesus says the enemy is “a liar and the father of lies.” The enemy is always trying to get in our head and our heart. Trying to destroy and distort the truth of who we are and whose we are.
Anything less than honesty and integrity is an indication of the enemy’s ongoing influence in your life. The enemy wants to keep us trapped as victims of his lies. It’s a daily battle that must be fought to choose to be women and men of integrity that stand behind their YES and their NO.
This doesn’t just happen by accident. We have to choose to fight for integrity and character.
Here’s what I’ve learned...you will either be known by your character or as a character. Which character are you building? Because we’re all building one or the other.
Growing up, I desperately wanted people to like me. To be accepted. To not be picked last. I wanted to be wanted. So, I became the funny guy. I became the most talented. I became really good at whatever I thought would get me through the door of being liked. What do you need? I’ll become it. What do you want to hear? I’ll say it. I learned to tell you what you wanted or needed to hear.
And, I got really good at this. So in time, I was never picked last. I was always invited. I was never alone. But, what I figured out one day is they weren’t picking “me." They weren’t inviting “me." They were choosing a counterfeit version of me.
While I wasn’t ever alone and I always had people around, they were people who chose to hang out with the counterfeit me. So, I lived in fear of showing my true self. I found myself trapped in the vicious cycle of image management. Keeping up a façade of who I was to continue to impress people I didn’t even really like. I had developed Counterfeit Character. A counterfeit version of myself.
On the outside, I looked like Jon. I looked real (even had a watermark), but on the inside, not even close to the real version of me that God had created me to be. And, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we all do this to some degree. We spend the bulk of our time and energy on the outside, the person we show others…the over-filtered, Instagram version of ourselves.
But, that’s actually not what matters…
In 1 Samuel 16:7, God’s word says, "The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
I don’t care how much weight you’ve lost or how many gains you’re getting in the gym…how many gains are you getting in your character?
You can bench press a truck, but can your character carry the truth?
It’s what’s on the inside that matters…
I can say all this, because for decades none of that stuff mattered to me. For decades, I was consumed with all the stuff on the outside. If I could present myself a certain way, then I could get the stuff, people, and things I thought would fulfill me.
(GLASS JAR ILLUSTRATION)
This jar represents us. We’ve all got a jar. And we’re all putting stuff in our jar. Stuff we think matters. Stuff we think will help us succeed. Stuff we think will make people like us. Stuff we think will get us more ‘likes’ or keep us getting invited to parties…and golf outings…
What are you putting in your jar? Is it healthy? Is it helping you develop Christ’s character in you or a counterfeit character?
See, for years, I started to develop things in me that I thought would help me get me what I wanted. (Add rock to jar.) So, I developed the ability to tell you what you wanted to hear. (Add rock to jar.) I developed an image that would help my flesh get what my flesh wanted. (Add rock to jar.) I developed an ego the size of TEXAS that would belittle those around me, so I could feel better about myself. (Add rock to jar.) I developed my skills and talents, so I could use them to build myself up. (Add rock to jar.)
“Look how successful I am. Look how talented I am.” “Don’t you want me? Don’t you wish your boyfriend was just like me?” I thought I was all that and a bag a chips. My YES was maybe, depending on whether or not it would get me what I wanted. My NO was never heard. Because to say NO, meant I might miss out on something. To say NO, would mean I had limits. To say NO, would mean I actually stood for something. And the only thing I stood for, was me.
Lin Manuel Miranda said it best in Hamilton, “If you stand for nothing…what will you fall for?"
In the end, that’s what happened. I fell for everything. Chasing fulfillment, chasing identity. Until one day I was left broken and busted. Alone and empty. How many of you know what I’m talking about? You’ve chased identity and fulfillment, looking for something on the outside to answer the ache on the inside?
You’re not alone. Today’s your day of breakthrough.
You can learn how to let your YES (your word) mean something! You can learn the power and freedom of your NO!
Here’s what I learned…and I do mean learned…
With God’s help, his people, and his power (get used to hearing that)...I learned how to empty out the counterfeit me.
The apostle Paul (kind of a big deal in the Bible), before becoming a follower of Jesus, he had all this success, tons of pride, thought he was the best of the best…and he kinda was…until Jesus got ahold of him.
This is what Paul said about all his accomplishments, all the stuff he had put inside that he thought was valuable. "I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him." Philippians 3:7-9
Maybe for some of you here today, it’s time to take out the garbage. (Empty the jar.) To make room for the things of Christ. To become one with him. To develop some things on the inside that actually have value.
I needed to get rid of the counterfeit character and start developing Christ’s Character. See, once I accepted Jesus as lord and leader of my life, my priorities started to shift. That’s what Jesus does. That’s why He came to earth, to rescue and redeem hot messes like me and you. I’m not the only hot mess in here.
Through his birth, death, and resurrection, Jesus offers us new life. Not just so when one day we die, we can party it up in Heaven…He offers us a better life NOW, a better way to live and love NOW, so we can bring Heaven to Earth…RIGHT NOW. And He does this by transforming us from the inside out.
He does this through the power of His Holy Spirit and through godly men and women we allow to speak into our lives.
Everything changed when I allowed these two things to happen. God started changing what I desired and what I wanted.
I wanted to become a person who would breathe life into people more than I wanted to be the life of the party. So God developed things in me like humility, kindness, and compassion.
I wanted to become a man of integrity more than I wanted people to like me. So, God developed in me honesty, mercy, and forgiveness.
I wanted to become someone who would help people get through hard times more than someone who knew how to have a good time. Because when the crap hits the fan…people don’t need a joke, they need an Oak.
People going through hell don’t need bumper sticker Christianity and a wall hanging. They need women and men of character whose YES means YES and their NO means NO. To bring help and hope to the hurting, we need people who have been through hell and back and have the scorch marks to prove it.
It took time…a lot of time…to develop into the man that stands in front of you today. Only the power of Christ can turn a loser into a leader.
It took me giving my mentors permission to call me out, to disciple me, to help me learn the discipline of not going back to old behaviors when things got hard or things weren’t going the way I liked. But that’s what friends, real friends, do. They fight for your highest good. They help you develop the Christ character in you.
Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."
When you give a friend or mentor permission to speak into your life to make you better, sparks will fly. Just like when iron hits iron. But, that’s how character is developed.
If you don’t have people in your life who will tell you, you have broccoli in your teeth or call out your BS, you need new people.
You cannot develop Christ’s character in you without allowing God to search your heart and allowing God’s people to speak into your life. When this happens, you become a person of your word, there’s no longer a need to say things like “I swear” or “For real” any more. Your life begins to speak for itself. You begin to produce enough evidence to convict you of being someone who is trustworthy. People start to see what you are actually made of.
See, when we allow Christ’s character to be developed in us…when people see us…they actually are seeing past us. What they’re really seeing is the character of Christ in us.
(Introduce Rob’s video)
Many of you who have been a part of the Whitewater community knew and loved Rob Humphries. He was a gentle giant full of love and compassion. In the time I was able to hang out with Rob, I saw what type of man he was. I got to see with his life and his words the character of Christ in him. For those who never got to meet Rob, allow me to introduce you to Rob Humphries.
( show Rob's video)
Some people think death is moving from the land of the living to the land of the dying. But when you have Christ’s character living inside you, like Rob did, you move from the land of the dying to the land of the living.
In his last few days on earth, I spent some time with Rob in the hospital. We had this beautiful and powerful conversation. I asked him if there was anything he wanted to make sure Jereca (his wife) knew. Without missing a beat, he said, “I want Jereca to know the passion I have for her.” It wasn’t about guitars…it wasn’t about stuff…it wasn’t about status…success...money…it was, I want you to know how much I love you.
There is no greater representation of Jesus’ character than the statement “I want you to know how much I love you.”
In the end, what we’re really made of and what matters most comes out. Each of us have things inside of us we think matters. But, at the end of the day, they really don’t. It’s time to reevaluate. To take stock of what we are pursuing. To what we’re putting inside. To take a look at what we’re made of.
Maybe it’s time to allow some godly men and women to see the real you, not the counterfeit you. Maybe it’s time to give someone permission to speak into your life.
Maybe for you, it’s coming to one of our next steps community groups that meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month. Dinner is provided. Even if you aren’t wanting to grow, everybody likes free food!
Our families and communities need women and men of character right now. Will you empty the jar and allow Christ’s character to be developed in you? Will your YES be YES and your NO, NO?
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:23