Is Christianity too hard?
Sometimes a person wonders if Christianity is really worth it. The day to day grind of fighting against the trio of damnation – the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh take its toll on all of us. Living a life of faith in a godless world is always met with opposition from many different fronts.
“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
Sometimes a person wonders if Christianity is really worth it. The day to day grind of fighting against the trio of damnation – the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh take its toll on all of us. Living a life of faith in a godless world is always met with opposition from many different fronts. It is tempting at times to lay it aside for awhile and to give in to satisfying our sinful pleasure. You wonder sometimes if by indulging yourself in a little raunchy pleasure you might find life to be a little easier pill to swallow. You know better than that. You know that doesn’t work. But people without faith in Christ don’t see why it’s a big deal. They don’t understand why you don’t just lighten up and enjoy the ride of pleasure and self gratification. They really don’t understand why you do the things you do. May it be our prayer today that this portion of God’s Word will encourage, motivate, and inspire us to continue to bear our crosses patiently after Christ. Today we will learn:
Faithfulness is worth it
the pleasures of sin have no future
the disgrace of Christ has a promise
The 11th chapter of Hebrews is referred to as the “Heroes of Faith” chapter. The chapter begins with the familiar passage: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” It is a chapter that presents to us many different heroes of faith who lived their lives for Christ even though life was hard and even though they knew they wouldn’t receive the things promised to them until after they died. They are an encouragement to all of us to live a life of faithfulness looking forward to the goal of our faith in heaven itself. The hero of faith for our attention is Moses.
Moses was born at a time when the Pharaoh had issued an edict that every male Israelite child was to be killed. His parents had to hide their son from the Pharaoh’s officials. On one occasion, they hid him along the river bank and had his sister Miriam watch him from a distance. When Pharaoh’s daughter happened along the place where the child had been hidden in the river, she decided to adopt him as her own and to take him back to her palace, but not until he was weaned. Miriam convinced Pharaoh’s daughter to allow his mother to nurse the child. So, for about 3 years Moses’ mother had an opportunity to instill in her child the promises of God. When it came time for him to live in Pharaoh’s palace, he never forgot who he was or where he had come from.
Our text says, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” For Moses the pleasures of sin would have been to enjoy the Egyptian life style while forgetting the suffering that God’s people were enduring every day. He refused to live in the lap of luxury when he knew God’s people were suffering. He longed to be one of them! For him the pleasures of sin have no future. He found faithfulness to be worth more than living the good life in Egypt.
We know by bitter experience what happens when we forget that we are children of God. We have tried to live life with our feet in two cultures: the culture of American hedonism and the culture of Christian living. Time and time again the world has chewed up and destroyed a child of God who could not handle living in two worlds. Our sinful nature wants to convince us that we can have the best of both worlds. We can enjoy everything this world has to offer and at the same time enjoy the blessings of Christianity.
There is something appealing about the whole “prosperity theology” brand of Christianity. We would like to convince ourselves that God wants us to be happy and wealthy. So, we have surrounded ourselves by the pleasures of the world and tried to mold Christ into a form that would not interfere in our life style. We have been faithless and have fallen for the pleasures of sin. Because of that, God has every right to cast us out of his family.
For Moses, faithfulness meant giving up power, riches, and pleasure so great that the world still marvels at ancient Egypt’s glories. Moses never considered himself “The Prince of Egypt” as Hollywood has depicted him. Even more than abstaining from these, faithfulness meant Moses would leave nobility behind and identify himself with an enslaved people. He preferred hardship so that he might be faithful!
Moses found the courage to be faithful from his faithful Savior and so can you!
Believers have one thing in common: every believer recognizes that God always keeps his promises. Your Lord Jesus willingly left behind all the power and glory that was his in heaven and took the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. He served mankind and he served his Father even to death on the cross. Jesus faithfully lived and died and rose again for your salvation. It is not our faithfulness to God that earns any brownie points with God. It is his faithfulness to us that saves us!
So, you have to wonder why anyone even bothers trying to be faithful when we know we are going to fail? Why try to be faithful when we know it isn’t our faithfulness that saves but God’s faithfulness to us that saves? God has changed your heart and mind so that you now want what God wants and desire to be with him more than anything this world has to offer. That is why a man like Moses give up so much. He knew the Hope of Israel and regarded this disgrace for the sake of Christ to be worth more than all the treasures of Egypt. Our text says, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
Disgrace for the sake of Christ is greater than all the treasures of Egypt! Again, and again in the Bible we hear God telling us about the joy of suffering. For example, the book of James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Ja 1:2-4).
St. Paul wrote, “But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Ro 5:3,4). St. Peter wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (I Pe 4:12-13).
It must be true! The disgrace of Christ carries with it a wonderful promise!
Faithfulness is worth it if you can learn how to live life with your eyes on the prize that is just beyond your reach. The amazing thing about all these heroes of faith like Moses and the others in this chapter is that none of them received the things promised to them this side of the grave. Each of them lived by faith and longed to receive the blessings that become reality in heaven. It is the promises of God that give us inspiration, motivation and encouragement to live our lives to the glory of God.
“By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” Faithfulness necessarily compels us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Even though we can’t see him, we know him and are filled with an inexpressible joy at the prospect of living with him in heaven.
“By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.” Faithfulness remembers how God delivered his people from the destruction that came on Egypt the night God brought his people out of slavery and led them to the Promised Land. Faithfulness inspires gratitude in the heart as we come to church to hear again of the great things God has done to save us!
What great promises God has given us to inspire us while we face the challenges of Christian living! Our gracious God is going to bring us home to glory when our work on earth is done. Do not waste your time pursuing pleasures that have no lasting value. Use your time wisely. St. Paul wrote (Ph 3:7-9), “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.
I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” St. Paul would say faithfulness to Christ is worth it no matter what the price! Moses lived that way too! Even we would have to say that life cannot get any better than that.