Step Up To the Plate Motivation From An Unexpected Batter

Sermon Summary

This message takes a fresh look at a very old story from the Bible. Jesus was confronted by an expert in the law with this question: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded with a couple of questions of His own. “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The expert answered correctly but sought to justify himself by asking Jesus to clarify the letter of the law: "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus responded by sharing the well known story of the Good Samaritan. The story of this expert in the law and the story Jesus used as an example to him, give us some very clear examples of wrong motivation, missing motivation and right motivations for stepping up to the plate and serving God. 

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. The expert in the law wanted to know what he had to do to inherit eternal life. He was looking for a list of dos and don'ts that he could accomplish and then put a check mark by each one. If he could do that he could justify himself. But Jesus challenged him with the fact that he was not doing what he already knew to do. He hadn't checked off the most important item on the list God had given him, which was to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. Why do you think so many would rather have a things to do list for salvation rather than a relationship with God?

2. If we are motivated to serve God because we think by that service we will earn our way to heaven, we will serve out of a sense of obligation and maybe even fear. However, stepping up to the plate and serving out of a sense of gratitude, because we've been given the gift of salvation, makes all the difference! Describe that difference.

1 John 4:16  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:17  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
1 John 4:18  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:19  We love because he first loved us.

3. One of the interesting points found in the story Jesus told about the good Samaritan was that neither the priest nor the priest's helper, the Levite, were motivated to help the hurting man. The priest came along first, ignored the plight of the one who had been robbed and then the Levite did the same thing. What lesson about motivations, good or bad, do we take away from this fact?

Mat 5:13  "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
Mat 5:14  "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Mat 5:15  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Mat 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

4. The Samaritan was a despised man and considered irreligious by the Jews. However, he not only gave first aid to the man who had been beaten, but made provisions for him to be cared for until he could get back on his feet. What do you think motivated him to step up to the plate and why should we follow his example in life? Pastor Larry mentioned three motivations for stepping up to the plate. These might help you with this question.

Step up to the plate because it will bless Others!
Step up to the plate because it will bless God!
Step up to the plate because it will bless You!

Eph 2:10  For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Full Sermon Notes
Motivation From An Unexpected Batter

I love those lyrics so much. We can step up to the plate because of the One who is King of our hearts! We can step up to the plate because as the King of hearts, He is the mountain of strength we run to and the fountain of life we drink from. He is the wind that moves us and at the same time the anchor that holds us! He is the fire inside that motivates us and the song that inspires us!

Let's pray and ask Him to help us understand clearly today why we step up to the plate spiritually and take a swing at serving God! Let's pray!

We're going to read a short story today that Jesus told during His ministry. It will serve as a spring board for our discussion on why we step up to the plate. This story teaches powerful lessons, and we'll learn from a good example and a bad example. The bad example was quite religious, while the hero of our story today was a member of a group of people despised and hated by many back in Jesus' day. The fact that this person exemplified good motivations for stepping up to the plate spiritually, shocked the people Jesus was talking to. Let's read the story in Luke 10:25 ff...

Luke 10:25-26 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

This expert in the law was testing Jesus with his question, but Jesus turned it back on him by asking him two questions. First, "What is written in the Law?" Second, "How do you read it?" In other words, what's your interpretation? Let's see how the expert in the law responded and Jesus' response...

Luke 10:27-37 He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength
and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his
clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.
The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper.
‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Did you notice the expert in the law could not bring himself to say "the Samaritan"? He said, "the one who had mercy on him."
The unexpected player who stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park was a Samaritan. Samaritans were a racial mix of Jewish and pagan heritage and were considered unclean and ungodly by Hebrews. Wow! What a story and how amazing are the lessons it teaches us! Let's go back to the beginning of the story and see what lessons we can learn concerning stepping up to the plate to serve our Lord!

Luke 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Lesson #1
The Wrong Motivation

What must I do to inherit eternal life? We've talked about this recently. There are so many who think they can earn or inherit eternal life by their own doing. But here's the problem. It was a problem in the Old Testament days, the New Testament days, and these modern days. The writer of Romans addresses the problem by quoting the Old Testament Psalmist...

Romans 3:10-12 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

And the writer of Romans goes on to say this...

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

So this means all of us have done wrong and are are in need of a Savior! And why does he say no one seeks God? Well, maybe those who are seeking to earn their way to heaven aren't really seeking God, but what they can get from God. And here's the problem, the only way to heaven is to have a relationship with God, and if you're religion doesn't bring you into a personal relationship with God your religion is fatally flawed! And then there are those who aren't really concerned with earning their way to heaven, they just want to look good to others in this world.

They step up to the plate to look good to others and to justify themselves. Did you notice in our story, after Jesus tells the guy he had answered correctly, He instructs him to follow the advice of the law by loving God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. Doing that would have led to the saving relationship needed, but what does the guy do? Does he say "alrighty then I'll do that!" No he doesn't. Listen...

Luke 10:28-29  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

So this guy wants clarification of the law and specifics so he can justify himself. He figures, as long he can know just who his neighbor is, and as long as he follows the letter of the law and does just what he has to in regards to the neighbor, then he'll be justified. He's not concerned with true righteousness, a relationship with God, or helping his neighbor!It's about saving face and making heaven. Paul, the writer of Romans, would later spell out what it takes to get into heaven and we find this when we look at the context of Romans 3:23. Let's go back to verse 19 and read through the first part of verse 25...

Romans 3:19-25.a Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law,  
so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood...

So we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. He was the sacrifice for our sins, and it's through faith in His cleansing blood that we are saved. And let me say this loud and clear again…"If you are saved by grace, you stay saved by grace!!" Some people think you come to Jesus by grace, but the only way to keep the grace is through your good works. I'm so thankful I don't live by that. If I did, then I would always wonder if I had done something to lose my salvation, or if I had done enough to keep it. I don't live my life in that kind of fear. My salvation was a gift I didn't deserve, didn't earn, and didn't buy, and thank God, I can't lose... Romans 11:29...

Romans 11:29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

So our motivation to step up to the plate is not in order to be saved, but because we have been saved! Amen? Amen! We've been called of God to do great and mighty things for the cause of Christ! More on that in just a minute, but there's not only the wrong motivations, there's the "Missing" motivations.  Back to our story. Remember a man had been beaten, robbed and left for dead.

Lesson #2
The Missing Motivation

Luke 10:31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

The priest had probably been serving in the temple for a week. His shift was over. He was on his way home. How inconvenient the timing of this opportunity to serve his fellowman. And then there was the problem of who this man was. He might be an unclean Samaritan, a sinner, or a tax collector. Since he had no clothing to identify his social cast, or religious affiliation, that was a problem. So the best thing in this religious man's mind was to walk on the other side of the road and not look to see if the guy was still breathing. He didn't want to become ceremonially unclean. He could pretend he just didn't see him! He didn't want to have to get his hands dirty! Besides, he had already paid his dues with a week's worth of service to God! Let someone else take this one.

Well, let's see who goes by next.

Luke 10:32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Levite's were a group of people who helped out at the temple. They were the lowest of the three orders of priest, so they assisted the other priests. But you know what struck me with this verse? He did the same thing the Priest did which means he did as he was taught and followed the example of his teacher, his leader. How sad is that? He lacked the motivation and inspiration to help. Motivation is contagious and the lack of motivation is contagious! People who have had little or no example of caring for others will emulate their teachers. And we must never forget that stepping up to the plate to serve God many times, if not most of the time, involves serving people! In fact you might remember these words from Jesus Himself...

Matthew 25:42-45 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me,
I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes  
or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

If you've never stepped up to the plate to serve God by serving others, what has caused your missing motivation? Is it busyness? Is it lack of concern? Is it just too inconvenient? Is it self-centeredness? Is it complacency? Is it that you had a bad example or you never had a good example! Well, our last point I hope will motivate you to step up to the plate for all the right reasons.

Lesson #3
The Right Motivation

Let's look again at our story...

Luke 10:33-35 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.
The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper.
‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Wow! Talk about stepping up to the plate and hitting it out of the park!! This Samaritan was considered an outcast in Jewish society, so he had no societal facade to keep up, no pretense, no illusion of self-righteousness to portray. He was just a regular Joe traveling down a highway when he came upon the scene. He didn't cross on the other side. He came to where the hurting man was! He was motivated by a genuine concern for the needs of a hurting person. He was motivated by injustice that had obviously occurred. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted help right a wrong he had not caused and had no obligation to make right, but he was not acting under obligation. He was acting out of love and concern for another hurting individual.

In the same way, we've got to be willing to go where the needs are and not look away. This is one of the most important aspects of stepping up to the plate to serve God: You've got to see people! You've got to open your eyes and see the hurting people! You've got to be willing to let God give your heart the eyes to see the needs of others. Then you've got to be obedient to God as you seek to meet the needs you discover. The guy was beaten and bleeding, but the Samaritan had pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds. In other words, he was willing to get his hands dirty. He was willing to become unclean if it meant he could help someone else find healing!
The Samaritan then put the medicine of the day on the man's wounds, oil and wine, and then put him on his donkey and took him to an inn and took care of him. When he had to go he left money for his care and told the innkeeper if there were any other expenses he would cover them when he got back. Now that's the kind of neighbor I want living next door to me! It's also the kind of neighbor I want to be!

Now, Jesus asked the expert in the law one last question and gave one last instruction...

Luke 10:36-37 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

The expert in the law again answered correctly. He knew who had been the good neighbor. It was the good Samaritan, although, as I said earlier, the lawyer wouldn't say the word Samaritan. The expert had also had the right answer to Jesus' first question about the law. Remember? "Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." The problem was in the action department. The expert in the law knew the right answer, but had failed to implement the right answer! Why? Because, unlike the Good Samaritan, the expert in the law was not motivated by a relationship with God or concern for his fellowman.

He knew the right answers, but Jesus challenged him to go beyond knowing the right answers, to living out those right answers in his life. Doing those things would have led this guy into a saving relationship with God and he would have discovered that salvation is not by works, but once you have that relationship with God and have been saved, you are motivated to do good works! And what is that motivation to step up to the plate and do those good works? Let me leave you with three things and a final passage of Scripture.

Step up to the plate because it will bless Others!

Step up to the plate because it will bless God!

Step up to the plate because it will bless You!

I think you might have heard me read this passage before. It is one of my very favorite in all of God's word...

Ephesians 2:4-10 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So step up to the plate! Let's pray!