Living with the End in View involves
Putting Jesus First
Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Luke 3:7–9)
John the Baptist preached a message of repentance to a very religious people. Many were proud of their traditions, such as washing cups and pots, praying long prayers in public, observing the Sabbaths regularly, and tithing. There was nothing inherently wrong with these things. Unfortunately, they took pride in being descendants of Abraham rather than walking in humility as children of God.
They claimed Abraham as their father, believing their race was superior to the rest of the world. Obeying the laws of God from the heart, their nation should have been blessed, a light to the Gentiles. Such a privilege should have humbled them, but pride put out their lamp.
We, like the Hebrews, have depended on various standards to appear righteous. We too have used our higher business positions to appear better than others, showed off our well-behaved children to insinuate that we are better parents, and bought goods to keep up our status with the Joneses. Perhaps we’ve kept up certain religious practices, such as church-going, to cement our righteousness before God.
Therefore we must not shake our heads in scorn at Israel’s loss as a light to the world, for we can suffer the same fate as they did. “Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either” (Rom. 11:20–21). When we take pride in our standards, or racial or religious superiority, we act in unbelief. When we take God at His word and act upon it despite appearances, we act in faith.
“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.” Repentance does not mean we get busy with more good works. It means returning Jesus to first place. If we have religion but no Jesus, will it save us? If we increase our works, but forget the Gift-giver, have we profited? If we boast in our ancestors but cannot draw life from the True Vine, we will be uprooted.
People have given up high-paying jobs to work for lower pay in gospel-oriented organizations. College presidents have been seen sweeping floors or scrubbing bathrooms. My wife saw a pastor at our church of thousands picking up trash in the lot. Jesus was enough.
Living with the end in view, we repent so that Jesus is first.
Steps of faith:
Take the time to seek Christ afresh by meditating on His holiness, sinlessness, love, and work on Calvary. Let your meditation lead you to humility.
Put aside sinful practices, such as proud thoughts, that hinder putting Christ first as Lord of your life.
Selection from Living with the End in View, Book 1, Steve Husting