Sermon delivered January 9, 1999

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Reactors and the Golden Rule

What greater subject than Jesus! I would like to zoom in on one aspect of Jesus Great Character: His self control. Jesus' life was not blown by every wind. Angry mobs could shout as loud as 50 speeding fire trucks yet it didn't shake Him.

Mark 15:3-5 The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, "Aren't you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of." But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

In the center of blaring accusations and exaggerated misrepresentations Jesus was a justice of the peace. Peace dwelt within Him. Not even all the whipping, cursing and the spitting inflicted on Him by the frenzied mob could cause Jesus to react to them.

We need to be like Jesus. The next time an angry motorist blows his horn at you because you did not instantly go at the change of the traffic light and then he pulls up beside you and yells out and then pulls over in front of you and drives real slow, what should you do? Step on the gas? No, you need to have the mind of Jesus at that point. The patience of the saints. In fact, if you respond by flaring up and getting agitated, do you realize that the other driver is in charge of you. He's controlling you. You don't want that, do you? You want to be controlled by Jesus. That is an opportunity to show kindness!

There's an interesting text in Proverbs 16:32 (New Living Translation - NLT) It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city. It is better to be patient than it is to be powerful.

Jesus was regulated. When they spat on Him and nailed Him to the cross timbers He did not retaliate against them. Instead, Jesus forgave them. Jesus never once took revenge. Oh that we had more of the self control of Jesus.

I read a very interesting sketch of our Savior a magazine called Signs of the Times, "Lift Him Up, by EG White, 6-24-1897. "The Pharisees and Sadducees were always on His track.... All the contempt and bitterness that Christ met day by day could not rob Him of His self-possession. When He was reviled, He reviled not again.... The storm raised by His opponents beat about Him, but He heeded it not." Things can happen to you that are very bad. You can lose a spouse. You can be infringed upon by losing your health. You can have some dreaded disease. Anything can happen to you. But, if you have Jesus Christ in your heart, the tow of you together can handle it. You can.

Proverbs 14:29 A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

Verse 30 NLT A relaxed attitude lengthens life.

You may notice that I've been encouraging you to use some of the newer versions of the Bible in 1999. I think we should use our Bibles in 1999. A lot of people's Bibles are just like my comb. (Elder Gettys is mostly bald.) Brand new! Mint condition. You don't want a comb like that. You don't want a Bible like that either. Let's use our Bibles in 1999. (That was just a free commercial, okay?)

A friend of mine traded at a local gas station. Every time he went in to pay for the gasoline he would smile and politely thank the cashier. His kindness was never acknowledged; the cashier never smiled back.

I asked my friend: "Why do you continue to be so nice to him?" My friend said: "Why not? Why should I let him decide how I will act? He is not in charge of me. I'm going to be happy, regardless, because I have Jesus in my heart. I'm going to be the way He wants me to be regardless of how people treat me."

So, when people walk into the church and ask, "How are you?" you can answer that you're having a fantastic day because Jesus is living in your heart. That's how that works.

Praise God for such an example. My friend acts toward people. He does not react. Most of us react. When we meet someone on the sidewalk and they smile, we probably smile back. But if they do not smile or say hello should we be like them? Do they control our actions?

The Bible gives us a golden rule: Matthew 7:12 So in everything, (That's a major word.) do to others what they do to you. Is that what your Bible says? That's the way many of us translate that verse. It actually says, Do to others what you would have them do to you... What do you want people to be doing to you? What do you want somebody to be doing to you? Smiling? Well then, you just smile at everyone. It doesn't matter.

The great moral injunction for Christians (the Golden Rule) calls on us to act and not react. We will simply refuse to return incivility with incivility. We are more than responders to the actions of others. We set the pace as Christians for cheerfulness, joy and happiness in the home and workplace, in the classroom, wherever you are.

Invite Jesus to come into your heart and be your internal governor. Your center of emotional gravity will become anchored to the solid immovable Rock, Jesus Christ. He can do that for you. He can change you. Only then can you act rather than react to the misdeeds of others.

With Jesus in charge of our life, our spiritual temperature no longer gyrates up and down like a jittery yo-yo. Thermometers are at the mercy of the elements reflecting their temperature. But Jesus can make you more like a thermostat, and not a thermometer.

Proverbs 19:11 A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. We can overlook them. We can through Jesus Christ.

To let another person control whether we shall be nasty or nice, cheerful or sad, is to relinquish control over our own disposition which is ultimately all we possess. Because, really, man's only true possession is his self- possession, his character.

We are not responsible for all the things that happen to us each day, but we are accountable for the way we act or react when they come. To really know a person, observe their conduct when they have a flat tire or when confronted with an angry person.

Proverbs 25:28 (Clear Word):- A man without self-control is like a city without protection. City walls are broken down. We are vulnerable and likely to fall. We get self control by turning the keys of our life over to Jesus, by surrendering our life to Christ. By inviting Jesus to enter our life and putting Him in charge, His character becomes our character. His sweet disposition will become ours. By inviting Him to enter our life and putting Him in charge of our life.

Jesus said: Matthew 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

The size of a person is measured by the size of the thing that makes them angry. What it takes to tee them off. Let's suppose someone really blows your mental hard drive and it crashes. Anger would be a typical reaction. Don't get angry. Whoever angers you conquers you. And Christ can help you not to do that.

The emptier the pot, the quicker it will boil, so fill your empty life with the powerful presence of God.

Dr. Victor Frankl, the bold, courageous, courteous Jew who became a prisoner during the Holocaust, endured years of indignity and humiliation by the Nazis before he was finally liberated. At the beginning of his ordeal, he was marched into a gestapo courtroom. His captors had taken away his home and family, his cherished freedom, his possessions, even his watch and wedding ring. They had shaved his head and stripped his clothing off his body.

There he stood before the German high command, under the glaring lights being interrogated and falsely accused. He was destitute, a helpless pawn in the hands of brutal, zealous, prejudiced, men. He had nothing. No, that isn't true. He suddenly realized there was one thing no one could ever take from him -- just one. Do you know what it was?

Dr. Frankl realized he still had the power to choose his own attitude. He chose to act in a way that saved his life. No matter what anyone would ever do to him, regardless of what the future held for him, the attitude choice was his to make. Bitterness or forgiveness. To give up or to go on. Hatred or hope. Determination to endure or the paralysis of self-pity. He chose how he would respond to their actions. He responded with kindness. It preserved his soul. And it made all the difference in his life.

He remembered the men who walked through the concentration camp comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number; but they offered sufficient proof that everything can be taken from us but one thing: the last of our freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.

1 Pet 4:1,2 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

Do you see what it says to do here in verse one? It says, "ARM yourselves with the same Attitude that Jesus had." That attitude is like armor. A good Christ-like attitude is like protective armor. That is your protection, like insulation in the cold. Jesus' attitude protects us from all sorts of things that would happen to us. A good Christ-like attitude is protective armor. That's How Jesus could do what He did no this earth.

A good Attitude is better than a good education, better than money, better than position. Your attitude is your response to the cards that life deals to you. You cannot change the past, you can't change people, but you can change your reaction to those things that happen to you. Life is ten percent what happens to us and ninety percent how we react to it. Ask Jesus for a good attitude. So, if you're in a situation that isn't working, what should your attitude be? You work on making yourself into all that Christ ca help you to become. Develop your character through Jesus Christ.

Dale Carnegie said: "It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is how you react to it." Two people can live in the same trailer court, drive the same worn out cars, make the same measly amount of money, and one is happy and the other is miserable. How is that? Because of their attitude. How can you get a new attitude? By surrendering your old attitude to Jesus Christ and asking Him to plant this mind in you that is in Him.

I want to be like Jesus, don't you? We can be more like Jesus. Through Jesus Christ you can control how you respond to the wrongs that life dumps upon you. You don't have to lash out at your spouse. You don't have to kick the dog. You don't have to through the cat out the back door. You can respond the way Jesus wants you to respond because Jesus is a permanent resident inside your heart you can turn the other cheek.

Luke 6:27-31 But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

How much more desirable it is to be like Jesus. Only Jesus can unlock the handcuffs of hatred. When Jesus was abused and mistreated, he prayed for His tormentors. He forgave them. He had a heavenly attitude. We need to pray for Jesus' attitude.

The late General Douglas MacArthur of World War II vintage wrote something very profound about aging on his seventy-fifth birthday: "In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, and courage, so long are you young. But when the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, and the cold blasts of distrust then, and then only are you grown old." So watch your attitude.

Emulate the example of Christ. Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. The same? Yes, that's our goal.

-- A.W. Tozer

Have you ever heard a person say, "You've got an attitude problem."? You need to be born again. To be born again means a changed attitude! Ephesians 4:22,23 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds... We can be made new. Our old attitude can actually be replaced with a new and beautiful and positive attitude.

"With the right inward attitude, all the problems in the world will not make you a failure. But with the wrong spiritual attitude, all the help in the world will not make you a success." - Warren Deaton "The world is a looking-glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it in turn, will look grumpy at you; laugh at it, and with it, and it will be a jolly, kind companion." - William Thackeray

Proverbs 23: 7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. I want you to think about Jesus Christ. I want you to ask Jesus to come in and change your heart. There may be somebody sitting here today that will never again hear another sermon. You may go out this week and your life may be ended for some reason. This may be the last sermon you will ever hear. I invite you, I urge you to give your life to Jesus Christ. Give it to Him now! Surrender everything you have to your Savior. And do it now and you will become like our beautiful Jesus. You will have a home in heaven. His righteousness will be yours.

     Have faith in God, 
          Christ's attitude a sample;
     Have faith in God,
          His life was ample;
     Have faith in God,
          Our Savior and Example;
     Have faith dear friend, in God. 

Opening Hymn: 229 - All hail the power of Jesus Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48 Hymn of Dedication: 326- Open My Eyes That I May See 990109Gettys#166

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