Faithlife Sermons

Hard Conversations with Christ - On Attitude

Pastor Josh Rathje
Hard Conversations with Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Blessing and honor, glory and power to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever. Amen. Dearly beloved in the Lord, How has your attitude been lately? I don't want to harp on this too heavily, but I feel like for the last 7 months we have been at each other's throats more. We more quickly jump to conclusions and are less understanding than maybe we've ever been. We live in a time that has seen some of the most polarizing debates stem into polarizing actions. We so quickly move from loving each other and working toward the good of all to the love of self and working for the good of what we feel is necessary to survive. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's the attitude I've seen. That's the attitude that I've had lately too. What do you think? Is your attitude where you want it to be? If it isn't, Jesus has a beautiful message for us today. And even if your attitude is where you want it to be, Jesus' message is encouraging for us to keep it up. Our "Hard Conversations with Christ" series continues this week with a conversation on attitude. Attitude sets the tone for everything in life. When you wake up in the morning sometimes the attitude is to hop right back into bed and as a result our days feel unproductive. Other days we wake up and are ready to tackle the issues that await us. We feel more responsive and alert. Much of our day stems from the attitude we have. Our walks of faith aren't much different. Jesus wants us to have an attitude that reflects who we are. We are blood bought, redeemed children of the Heavenly Father. Does our attitude reflect that in all we do, or do we put up a façade of faith without any proof to back it up? Jesus encourages us to let our attitude reflect the loving heart that he has for all people. Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, I have offended you. I try to hide my sins, yet your eyes see. I try to laugh away my guilt, but I know that my guilt is eternally serious. My sin stokes your righteous anger. My rebellion causes your heart pain. Help me see my sin, feel the separation from you that it causes, and repent of it. Lift up my heart to you with the forgiveness and peace that I so desperately need. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. The Son of Poor Attitude but a Repentant Heart Jesus spoke yet another parable. He was talking to the leaders of the Jews about his authority. He came to earth with the authority of God, yet the leaders didn't want to believe it. They didn't want to believe it because Jesus had done things that offended them. He preached heavily against their hearts. He did miracles on the Sabbath. He supposedly didn't pay his taxes or temple tithe the way others did. He was different, and that offended the leaders. Jesus wanted to refocus their hearts. He wanted them to see that God desires mercy not sacrifice. He wanted them to see that God desires the hearts of his people not empty actions. Jesus was trying to win them over. To help make this point, he told a parable about a father and his two sons. The father had a vineyard to work in. And he asked his sons to work in the field today. Do it now, don't wait. The first son openly defied his father to his face. In Jewish culture, this was one of the most offensive things a son could do to his father. He openly rebelled and defied him. Think of the parable of the prodigal son. He did what was highly offensive to his family. He took the money and went and spent it on nothing but sinful things. In our parable today, this first son was telling his father, "You don't own me. I can do what I want." Right away, Jesus made a point. There are people who have this attitude. These people openly defy the authorities. They want to do their own thing. They think they know better than everyone else. This is our culture that we live in, isn't it? Why should we do anything we don't want to do? If we don't like a job, we leave it and find another. If we don't like our house, we sell it and find another. If we don't like our car, we sell it and buy another. If we don't like our spouse, then we leave and find a new one. That's the attitude that we have. We go and find the new, better thing. We don't want to work through hard times, we simply do what we want and how dare someone tell us to do anything different. Isn't this an attitude that you see daily, in your own heart to God's will? God asks you daily to drown your sinful nature in sorrow and repentance. Is this how you want to start your day? Do you like admitting that what you have done is evil, sinful, deserving of death? I don't think anyone likes starting their day off like that. We want to be told how good we are, that we don't have to do anything. God asks us to give him our whole heart. And all too quickly we say, "No, I don't think I will." We are the son with a poor attitude. But through God's Word, through faith given to us by the Holy Spirit, we have been given a repentant heart. Through God's Word we see an objective truth, God punishes sin. Through God's Word we see another objective truth, Jesus came to forgive sinners. There is no denying this after reading through the Bible. The knowledge that is presented in the Bible shows us two things. We are sinners, and Christ came to save us. What Jesus calls for is those who recognize their error to change their heart. He wants those who recognize their error to turn away from sin and turn to the one who has freed us from sin altogether. The beauty of the first son in this parable is what God has done for us. Through his Spirit given to us, we can see our sin and turn. That's what God called for in our Ezekiel passage. When we see our sins, we don't point the finger at someone else. Rather, we see our error and ask the Lord to forgive us. As a result of this repentance, we no longer live in the way of sin, but walk in the way of righteousness. The Holy Spirit guides us to walk in the way of the Lord. He moves us to read the Bible to see what God's will is for our lives. And the Holy Spirit sharpens our conscience to help us turn from sin and toward Jesus who has conquered sin for us. This was a son who had a poor attitude but was moved to have a repentant heart. Those, who are this son, believe the message of Jesus. The Son of Proper Attitude but a False Heart But the second son in our parable puts before us a different attitude. The attitude of this son is everything the father was looking for. The father asked him to go work in the vineyard today, and the son said, "You got it pop!" He was gung-ho and ready to do anything. Except the words didn't match the story. Jesus said this son did not go work. He did everything the direct opposite of what the first son did. He first had the proper attitude. He told his father every word he wanted to hear. But his heart was far from where his mouth was. During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Here is someone crying out, "Lord, Lord!" He had the right attitude - by outward appearance. This was almost a direct accusation to those to whom Jesus was speaking. These teachers of the law and elders of the people did everything right, in the eyes of the people. They were ready to teach the Word. They were ready to perform the sacrifices. They were ready to decide the civil disputes by interpreting God's Word. But what they weren't ready to do, was repent of their own sins. They weren't ready to have the Judge of the world come to them and tell them to change their hearts. This second son needed this hard conversation with Christ. It was all about attitude. God said of his people that with their lips they praised him, but their hearts were far from him. Their worship was made up of rules taught by men. It was a stinging indictment of how the religious leaders actually presented themselves before God. The hard conversation with these leaders on attitude, however, went right over their heads. They didn't see how rooted they were in their own sins - how their own lifestyles had rooted God far away from them while having a façade of true faith and obedience. The Lord wants his people to obey. There is no denying it. He wants even more for his people to rely on him, not to rely on their own works, not to rely on their vain hearts, not to rely on the outward appearances of faith, but to rely on the faith that he has worked into our hearts. He wants us to be moved to repentance so that we can serve him with a pure and upright heart. How's your attitude when someone comes to you and tells you about your sin? Are you like these leaders? I don't doubt that being accused of sin backs us up against a wall. We feel defensive and almost as if we need to defend what we have done. If we own up to it, knowing that it is wrong, we make ourselves out to be nothing but hypocrites and liars. We make ourselves out to be nothing more than these "outcasted sinners," like the prostitutes and tax-collectors of Jesus' day. And yet who does Jesus commend at the end of this parable? With the accusation of their sinful life, the tax-collectors and prostitutes saw just where their sin would take them. They owned their sin. They claimed that they were sinners and trusted in the work of the Messiah to set them free from their life of sin. Through repentance, through turning away from that sin, they relied fully on a gracious and merciful God who is more willing to forgive than we are to confess. When we are backed up against that wall of sin, when we see the great depths of our sin and how we deserve nothing but death and damnation, that is when Satan can do his worst work. Our hearts are fragile. We don't want to offend, and we certainly don't want to be an outcast. So when we are backed up against the wall and when we see our sin he can drive us down even more into despair. He accuses us over and over. He shows us the laundry list of sins and how we confessed those sins days ago. Since we committed them again, obviously we aren't following God, so just give up because there is no way any of us could appease a just God. He is right. We can't appease a just God through what we do here on earth. This is why we trust in the work of Jesus Christ. This is why we don't try to win God over with our works, because Jesus has done that for us. He has won the just God over by his blood. He has given you a gift that you don't deserve, because he earned it for you. The Son of Proper Attitude and a Loving Heart And this brings us to the third son in the parable. One that wasn't touched on at all. The one who spoke it. Jesus shows us a proper attitude and a heart to match it with action. This parable was told during Holy Week. Jesus, as the true, all-knowing God, knew exactly what was going to happen in the vineyard. In his Father's vineyard in Jerusalem, the work to be done was for him to be beaten, mocked, falsely arrested and his trial was to be a mockery. He would carry his torture device to the place of his own death where he would suffer the punishment for our sin. All this he did, perfectly. His attitude always thinking of his mission. His attitude and demeanor always ready to do what had to be done. His attitude reflected perfectly the love that he has for you. Ephesians implores us to be imitators of Christ. Is your attitude the same as Christ's? Who in very nature made himself a servant, though being the very God who created the world? This is a tough ask for you and me. But I have the best news for you today. You can do it. Yes, your attitude can be the same as Christ's. Yes, your heart can show the love that Christ showed. Because Christ lives in you. This is what our lesson from 2 Corinthians says. If Christ lives in you, you have passed the test. And as a result, you are able to show others the wonderful love that Christ showed you. Your attitude can be the same as Christ's. Filled with Christ, your heart can move you to act in love as Christ did. This is possible because the way of righteousness has been shown to you. Through the Word, God's will has been revealed to you. And through Christ's work for you, to dwell in you, you can have this attitude. Therefore, live in the freedom Christ has won for you as a dearly beloved child of God. Amen. Pastor Rathje0Hard Conversations with Christ: On Attitude0Pentecost 19 Shepherd Lutheran Church Matthew 21:28-32 October 11, 2020
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