For Christ’s Sake, By Femi Aribisala
We use the expressions “for God’s sake” and “for Christ’s sake” very often. When we use them, it is to insist on getting something from somebody. We might say: “Give it to me for God’s sake.” Or we might say in frustration: “Why don’t you just leave me alone for Christ’s sake?” But these things are mostly said in ignorance; without our fully realising what they mean. “Father, forgive us, for we do not know what we are saying.”
The most marvelous works of God are not done for our sake but for God’s sake. The psalmist prays: “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to your name give glory, because of your mercy, because of your truth.” (Psalm 115:1). Indeed, God forgives us our sins and saves us because of his name. Again the psalmist says: “Help us, O God our Saviour, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.” (Psalm 79:9).
Moreover, in the kingdom of God, we don’t get credit for the good things we do. We only get credit for what we do for Christ’s sake. Everything we have and receive is for Christ’s sake. God cursed the earth for Adam’s sake. Much later, God blessed the world for Jesus’ sake.
He is with me
The Minister of Finance comes from a little village in Bayelsa. One day, government workers came to tar all the roads in the village. The next day, they connected the village to the national grid, so there is now electricity there. The day after that, they came to sink three boreholes in the village. Why are they doing all this? They are doing it because the Minister of Finance comes from the village. They are doing this for the sake of the minister.
The father went to buy tickets for his wife and four children. When he came back, he handed it to them one-by-one and found to his surprise that there was one strange boy stretching out his hand to receive a ticket from him. “Sorry, but who are you?” the Father asked him; puzzled. “Father,” replied his son, “he is my friend. Give him a ticket for my sake.” And so, although the father did not know him, he ended up giving a ticket to a complete stranger simply because of his son.
Indeed, we do so many things for the sake of our children. We watch lousy boring films for their sake. We read nonsensical bedtime stories again and again for their sake. We work extra hours to get extra pay. We do all this for the sake of little Ngozi or little Dewale. So it is with God and his son, Jesus. God does all good things for Christ’s sake.
Because of Jesus
When we are disciples of Jesus, he confesses our name before God, the Father in heaven. Jesus says: “If anyone publicly acknowledges me as his friend, I will openly acknowledge him as my friend before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32). This ensures that certain divine privileges are accorded to us for Christ’s sake.
We receive eternal life for Christ’s sake. Jesus prepares a mansion for us in the Father’s house, and our names are not blotted out of the Book of Life. (Revelation 3:5). John the Baptist testifies that: “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:35-36).
Jesus says: “You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake.” (Matthew 10:18). “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39). “There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time.” (Mark 10:29-30). The centrality of Christ exists in these and every other equation that has to do with the kingdom of God.
Christ makes us deserving
God wrote a reference for Abraham. He said: “I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice.” (Genesis 18:19). Do you suppose he can get a job with God’s glowing reference? Of course, yes! God also wrote a reference for Job. He said: “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 2:3).
If a man takes a loan and God guarantees the loan, do you suppose he will default on it? Of course not! God will help him repay it and uphold him with his righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10). Similarly, Jesus guarantees all our debts with God. He stands as our surety. We can get anything and everything godly from God not because we deserve it but because Jesus deserves it. It is Jesus’ name that is written on the cheques we cash in God’s bank.
Therefore, we ask God for everything in Jesus’ name. God only does great things for Jesus’ sake. Accordingly, Jesus says to his disciples: “In that day you will ask me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24).
Do it because of Jesus
If God saves us for Christ’s sake, what can we do for Christ’s sake? Can we allow ourselves to be cheated for Christ’s sake? Can we suffer persecution for Christ’s sake? Indeed, we must! The writer of 1 Peter says: “Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified.” (1 Peter 4:13-14).
Jesus says: “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20). Indeed, if most of the problems believers experience in the world are because of Jesus, then for sure Jesus must also be our redeemer for all we suffer for his sake. Accordingly, Jeremiah pleaded his case before God: “Know that for your sake I have suffered rebuke.” (Jeremiah 15:15).
We are not blessed when we are reviled and persecuted by men. We are only blessed when we are persecuted and reviled “for Christ’s sake.” Jesus says: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12).