I Seek You, Not Yours
“I Seek You – Not Yours” (2 Cor. 12:11-15)
When Paul left the church at Corinth, false teachers came in with a three pronged agenda: (1) to replace grace and faith with works and ritual; (2) to slander and demean Paul and his ministry; (3) to fleece the flock—take money from the church. Paul had to reluctantly defend himself because the church would not. During his Corinthian ministry, Paul was not burdensome to the church—and in doing so, he makes this statement about his ministry: “I Seek You, Not Yours.” Let’s break down v. 14:
I Seek. To “seek” is to search for, try to get, go after, and pursue. This word describes the position of the church as pro-active, not passive. We are to go-find and go-tell, not “We’re here—come join.” The church is a seeking church because of four reasons: (1) Jesus’ Command—Our Lord gives us marching orders in Matt.28:19-20 and Acts 1:8. We must not disobey His command in seeking the lost. (2) Jesus’ Example—He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. He went about doing good. We are to model our lives after Jesus. (3) Nature of Man—Adam, the first man, hid when he sinned, but God sought him. Because of sin, man does not seek God (Rom.3:11). We must go after man: he will not learn, he must be taught; he will not come, he must be brought. (4) Continue Jesus’ Work—we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20). As an ambassador represents his king in a foreign country, so the Christian represents the King of Heaven and pleads with the people of the world to be reconciled to God. The church continues the work of Jesus on earth today. I “seek.”
I Seek You. We know why we seek. Now we learn “what” we seek. The bottom line of all that we do in our worship services, in the construction and maintenance of our facility, and in our ministries—all point to one thing: “You”—Souls! The General Electric Company used to have a motto: “At General Electric, Progress Is Our Most Important Product.” In the church, people are our most important product. Paul determined not to know anything but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. If you had met Paul he would hae not talked long before he would have asked you about your soul. He would have shown interest in the real you—the part of you that is going to live forever. We must convey to every person that comes into our church that we “seek You.” We are desperately, passionately interested in them as souls who will spend eternity in either heaven or hell.
I Seek You – Not Yours. “You” is a pronoun and stands for the people. “Yours” is a possessive pronoun that refers to the possessions of “you.” Paul had a burden for the “You,” not for the “Yours.” He sought “them,” not “theirs.” Have you ever had someone tell you: “I’m not going to that church. They are not interested in me. All they want is my money!” Shame on us as a church if we give that impression. I hope we do not act in prejudice toward people who have popularity, power, and possessions---we do not seek “theirs,” but “them. Before they can rightly do anything for the Lord or His church—they must give themselves first to the Lord. Before they can rightly claim the Christian name—they must give themselves first to the Lord. Out in the world, everything runs on profit—production—market ability. There is a lack of kindness, mercy, compassion, and helpfulness. “Newsweek” magazine took a survey and found that 57% of hiring managers believe an unattractive job candidate has a harder time getting hired; they found that 84% of managers said their bosses would hesitate before hiring a qualified older candidate; 64% of hiring managers said they believe companies hire people based on appearance.. Clearly, the world seeks “Yours,” not “You.” Whether it is business, sports, or entertainment, the world seeks “Yours,” not “You.” People are tossed aside when they can no longer produce effectively. People are not seen as persons with feelings and needs.
Jesus looked after “You,” not “Yours.” He did not regard the riches or poverty of men. He did not look to the position of a man, whether a king or a peasant. Jesus treated people as persons, not production. He saw they were in need of love and compassion. See how He spoke to the woman at the well, to Nicodemus, to the woman with the issue of blood, to the lepers, tax collectors, and prostitutes—even to the thief on the cross.
Bobby Bowden, for many years, was the football coach of Florida State University. Each year, before the season began, he wrote a letter to his players’ parents informing them that he was going to take them to his church with him on that first Sunday (First Baptist – Tallahassee, Florida). He said he wanted them to know they were welcome at his church. After that first Sunday, they could go wherever they wanted to go. He said that, in over 30 years of contacting parents, only one parent did not want him to take her son to Bowden’s church! We see from this that Bobby Bowden, a committed believer, was interested in his players, not as resources to win games, but as persons with souls.