Ten Shekels and a Shirt

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If you’ve never heard the powerful and very relevant message “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” by Paris Reidhead, you don’t realize how much your missing. It could literally bring about a major transformation in the way you and most Christian’s you know think. He preached it about 30 years ago, and you can tell it in the recording, but it is one of the most applicable sermons you will ever hear.

I’m going to attempt to give a summary by quoting him and filling in what’s needed to shorten the 51 minute sermon. If you really want to get the full effect of an impassioned man crying out against this unchristian philosophy, click here.

Judges 17-18

A story is told in Judges of a young Levite who left the city where he lived and ended up traveling to Ephraim to the house of a man Micah. Micah offered the young priest ten shekels and a shirt per year to perform his priestly rites in Micah’s self-made temple.

Later, people from another Israelite tribe, Dan, came to get land for inheritance. When they came to steal the molten-images and instruments from Micah’s temple, the young Levite asked them what they were doing. The Danites told him to “Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?

So the Levite gladly left with the Danites to serve for them.

How does it apply to us?

We see from this story how easy it was for the young Levite to leave his hired position in favor of the more prominent position. He really wasn’t interested in what he should be doing, but rather what made his life better. He was using his priestly status as a means to get him something better in life. “And by what are we going to judge our lives and our ministries? And the question that you are going to ask yourself is: Is God an end or is he a means? And you have to decide very early in your Christian life whether you are viewing God as an end or a means.” Are you going to see God as the goal or the way to get to the goal? The young Levite used God as a means to get him a better position.

To understand how we do the same thing, we need to look at our era’s leading philosophy.  “The philosophy of the day became humanism. And you can define humanism this way. Humanism is a philosophical statement that declares the end of all being is the happiness of man, that the reason for existence is man’s happiness.” The secular thought says that since we’re all just evolved animals with no God, there’s nothing better to do than to find what makes us most happy. “Children shouldn’t be brought to any particular standard, that the end of education was simply to allow the child to express himself and expand on what he is and find his happiness in being what he wants to be.”

This humanism has invaded the world of Christian thinking both in liberal and fundamental teaching. Very basically, liberal Christians try to make the world brighter by helping the poor and  hurt and bringing about social reform; while fundamental Christians try to get people to heaven by having them accept the right doctrine. ” The liberal says the end of religion is to make man happy while he is alive. And the fundamentalist says the end of religion is to make man happy when he dies.”

We hear something like this, “Accept Jesus so you can go to heaven. You don’t want to go to that old, filthy, nasty, burning hell when there is a beautiful heaven up there. Now come to Jesus so that you can go to heaven.”

What should our philosophy of evangelism be?

“If you will ask me why I went to Africa, I will tell you I went primarily to improve on the justice of God. I didn’t think it was right for anybody to go to hell without a chance to be saved. And so I went to give poor sinners a chance to go to heaven.

“Do you know what it is? It is humanism, that I was simply using the provisions of Jesus Christ as a means to improve upon human conditions of suffering and misery. And when I got to Africa I discovered that they weren’t poor ignorant little heathen running around in the woods waiting for…looking for someone to tell them how to go to heaven, that they were monsters of iniquity that were living in utter and total defiance of far more knowledge of God than I ever dreamed they had.

“And there, alone in my bedroom as I faced God honestly with what my heart felt it seemed to me I heard him say, “Yes, will not the judge of all the earth do right? The heathen are lost and they are going to go to hell not because they haven’t heard the gospel. They are going to go to hell because they are sinners who love their sin and because they deserve hell. But I didn’t send them out there for them. I didn’t send you out there for their sakes.”

” “I didn’t send you to Africa for the sake of the heathen. I sent you to Africa for my sake. They deserved hell, but I love them. And I endured the agonies of hell for them. I didn’t send you out there for them. I sent you out there for me. Do I not deserve the reward of my sufferings? Don’t I deserve those for whom I died?”

“And it reversed it all and changed it all and righted it all. And I wasn’t any longer working for Micah and 10 shekels and a shirt, but I was serving the living God. And I was there not for the sake of the heathen, but I was there for the Savior that had endured the agonies of hell for the heathen who didn’t deserve it. But he deserved them because he died for them. Are you saved?

“Let me epitomize. Let me summarize. Christianity says, “The end of all being is the glory of God.”

[Levi]

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