The Audience of One
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 27, 2003
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 (NLT)
This is our fifth and
final week in our series on Canadian Idols. Of course, you’ve got to
wait until September 16 for the finale on CTV, but this is it for us.
Over the past several weeks we’ve talked about a variety of things
which can become idols for us… things which vie for our attention and
which can become the focus of our lives… money, popularity, pleasure,
possessions, happiness, fame, family, career, religion. Have any of
these taken the place of God in your life and pushed Him of of the way?
Have any of these become an idol for you? What are you chasing?
VIDEO – E-ssentials v.4 n.4 "Rat Race"
This past week the third
group of ten competed to become finalists on Canadian Idol. One by one
the performers would step up to sing. They would sing for the four
judges. They would sing for the other nine competitors. They would sing
for Ben Mulroney and the rest of the crew. And they would sing for an
estimated 2.2 million people across our nation.
They were performing for a huge audience, and whether they were
successful or not was determined by the number of people in the
audience who called in to vote for them. That’s the nature of the show.
But who do you perform for? In everyday life, whose approval is most
important to you? Who is your audience? Because when all is said and
done there’s only one vote that counts, and I would suggest that you
perform for that audience of One. Because ultimately it’s not the
applause of the crowd that matters… it’s the approval of our God.
So this morning we’re going to talk about performing for this Audience
of One – What does it take to live for God and God alone? And as we go,
we’ll identify five keys to performing for the Audience of One. And you
can use the notes provided in your Sunrise update this morning to
follow along. Okay? Let’s go.
What is Involved in Performing for the Audience of
1. Decide Who
You Want to Please: God or Others
The apostle Paul is
known as one of the greatest Christians of all time. He’s the man
primarily responsible for spreading Christianity beyond the Jewish
community. He wrote half of the books in our New Testament. He is
someone who lived to please God.
But that wasn’t always the case. When we’re first introduced to Paul in
the book of Acts he was watching and condoning the mob execution of a
believer named Stephen. Paul was very much opposed to the early church
and made it his mission to arrest or kill as many Christians as he
At the time, he was going by the name of Saul. And he was a very
religious person. He followed all the religious laws and was quite
proud of it. And as he traveled around trying to wipe out the early
Christians, he gained the approval of many of the Jewish religious
leaders and Roman officials who felt threatened by Christianity. And he
did all he could to continue to please them.
Until the one day when this fellow met the Saviour, and he knew that He
was much more than a myth. It was then He gave his life to Jesus, chose
to live for him alone.
From that point on, Paul ticked off a lot of people. In fact, he
received death threats, had rocks thrown at him, was arrested and
imprisoned, and eventually he was killed for his faith. Check out what
he wrote in Galatians 1:10…
Galatians 1:10 (NLT)
Obviously, I'm not trying to be a people
pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to
please people, I would not be Christ's servant.
When I was a teenager (which I’m beginning to realize was a long time
ago) I used to listen to the Christian Rock group Petra, and there’s a
song they used to sing based on that verse right there. It was called
“Godpleaser”, and in it Bob Hartman wrote these words:
So many voices telling
me which way to go,
So many choices come from those who think they know.
There’s a way that seems right to a man but it only brings him death,
I wanna go the way that leads to life, till I draw my dying breath.
I just want my life to glorify His Son,
To Make my Father proud that I’m His child before I’m done.
No need to pat me on the back or stop to shake my hand,
I just want to hear my Father say, “Well done, well done.”
Godpleaser performed by Petra, written by Bob Hartman
That’s the first thing
about performing for an Audience of One… decide if you want to be a
people-pleaser or a God-pleaser. If you want to perform for the
Audience of one, you need to be a God-pleaser.
The second key is…
that God is Watching
Now, God’s not a cosmic
killjoy. He’s not watching with the intent to zap you anytime you mess
up, but He is watching. He sees your deeds, and more importantly He
sees your heart. He knows your thoughts and your motives. Nothing is
hidden from Him. So what you need to ask yourself is, “Is God pleased
with what He sees?”
1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
The LORD doesn't make decisions the way you
do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a
person's thoughts and intentions.”
Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)
For the word of God is full of living power.
It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost
thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. Nothing in
all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before
his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done.
Okay, so God sees and knows everything about you and me. We can’t hide
from Him, we can’t deceive Him, we can’t fool Him… He sees everything
clearly and knows everything about us. So if that’s true, what is God
What qualities and characteristics do you think He wants to see in our
lives? What would please Him?
(e.g. Humility, devotion, honesty, selflessness, holiness,
faithfulness, mercy, love…)
The third key is…
3. Enter God’s
There’s a series of
things Jesus says in Matthew 6… Let me read them for you.
Matthew 6:1 (MSG)
“Be especially careful when you are trying
to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be
good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding.”
Matthew 6:3-4 (NLT)
But when you give to someone, don't tell
your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in
secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
Matthew 6:5-6 (NLT)
“And now about prayer. When you pray, don't
be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and
in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is
all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by
yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly.
Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
Matthew 6:16-18 (NLT)
“And when you fast, don't make it obvious,
as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people
will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, that is the only
reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash
your face. Then no one will suspect you are fasting, except your
Father, who knows what you do in secret. And your Father, who knows all
secrets, will reward you.
In other words, don’t brag about the good things you do. Don’t draw
attention to the fact that you are praying, fasting, or giving to the
needy. Don’t do things just for the recognition you can get for it.
Now, sometimes people will recognize what you’re doing, and that’s
okay. As long as that’s not your motivation. Make it your primary
motivation to serve God out of love and obedience whether anybody else
ever finds out about it or not.
You have a choice. When you give to the needy, when you pray, when you
fast, when you serve… (and by the way, it’s “when” you do these things,
not “if”)… do you do it for the applause you can get from others or do
you do if for the applause you can get from the Audience of One?
God is our audience of One, and we are all part of the band. We are not
here to entertain or impress people, but to worship God.
~ Peter Thomas, minister of Brentwood Baptist Church, Essex, UK
Here's the challenge: this week you and I are going to see a need that
we can meet — someone we can pray for, someone we can serve, some
opportunity to be generous, some opportunity to live out our faith —
and we are going to practice being in God’s Secret Service. Try doing
something to meet a need without telling anyone about how you did it.
Now, I’ll never find out if you did it or not, so this is on the honour
system. But decide this morning to make it your goal this week to serve
someone without gaining any recognition or praise in return.
What are some examples of ways we can serve other people in secret?
(pray, mail money, send card, help with groceries (without drawing
attention to it), etc.)
4. Make it your
goal to please God in every circumstance of life
Here’s the deal… those
verse I read in Matthew, they talked about rewards. If you do things,
even good things, just to gain the applause and approval of others,
then their applause and approval will be your reward. It’s not that you
won’t be rewarded, but your reward will be limited to that.
On the other hand, those same verses teach that if you do the things
you do because of your love for God and your obedience to Him, without
your primary motivation to be recognized and slapped on the back, then
you will receive a great reward in Heaven. Because God sees what you do
So what you need to do is decide which reward you want? Do you want
your 15 minutes of fame, or do you want to be rewarded out of God’s
glorious riches in Heaven?
Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do,
as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
In Acts 4, the apostles Peter and John were arrested for preaching
about Jesus and were brought before a council including all the rulers
and elders and teachers of religious law. They ordered Peter and John
to stop spreading the message about Jesus. But listen to how they
Acts 4:19-20 (NLT)
“Do you think God wants us to obey you
rather than him? We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we
have seen and heard.”
Now, this isn’t an excuse to rebel against authority and break laws and
thumb your nose at people. But it is a great example of choosing to
please God regardless of the consequences. Peter and John could have
been thrown back in prison, and they could have even be killed, but
they resolved to obey God rather than any authority that would tell
them otherwise. They were going to please God in each and every
“Ultimately, we live our lives before an audience of one. It is what He
thinks that counts the most.”
~ Dr. James L. Wilson
"I live before the Audience of One. Before others I have nothing to
prove, nothing to gain, nothing to lose."
~ Os Guinness
evaluate if your thoughts, attitudes, motives, words and actions are
pleasing to God
It’s easy to fall back
into performance mode where you’re more concerned about what people
will think about you than you are about what God thinks. So every day
determine that you are going to live for God and serve Him only.
Regularly reflect on your life and evaluate where you’re at. Are you
doing things out of love and obedience to God, or are you more
interested in the affirmation and approval of the crowd?
Ephesians 5:6-10 (MSG)
Don't let yourselves get taken in by
religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of
religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang
around people like that.
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out
in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no
more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the
true--these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out
what will please Christ, and then do it.
When I’m working on the computer, I’ve learned to save my work often.
There’s nothing worse than losing hours of work to a computer crash.
Well, there are probably a few things worse, but I can’t think of any
right now. But the point is, when I’ve done so much and I’ve come so
far, I don’t want to have to start over. I don’t want to lose what I’ve
And when I’ve focused so much on building a relationship with Jesus
Christ and I’ve worked so hard at serving Him and pleasing Him, I don’t
want to lose it all by slipping back into my old ways.
I have a friend who is trying to quit drinking. And he’ll do really
well for a while but then he’ll give in and have a bottle of rum. Then
he has to start all over again. In order for him to experience freedom,
he needs to commit each and every day to stay sober and not give in to
the temptation which will bring him temporary pleasure.
In order for me to perform for my Audience of One, I need to commit
each and every day to focus on pleasing Him and living for Him, no
matter what. And that means I need to regularly look at my life and
evaluate how I’m doing. And every once in a while I may discover that
the applause and approval of others has become more important to me
than the applause and approval of God, and when that happens I need to
The overwhelming desire of my life is to please my Saviour. And that
may mean that I need to do some things or say some things that are
unpopular and that even offend, but that’s okay. Because while I’d like
for everyone to be happy with me, that’s not my main focus. I want to
first and foremost please my God.
“When you play to an audience of one, the applause never ends.”
~ Donald S. Whitney
Just as we wrap up here,
I want to play a song for you. I’m going to show the lyrics up here on
the screen, and I want you to take this opportunity to reflect on your
life and determine who you’re living for. Are you living for the crowd,
or are you living for the Audience of One?
By Greg Ferguson
It's such a strong temptation to live for man's applause
But I don't want to buy into the lie
'Cause I know that's not a worthy cause
So to keep things in perspective I hung a sign upon the wall
The sign is nothing special but it really says it all
And the sign says…
I'll be content to serve an Audience of One
Only His approval counts when all is said and done
And this is my prayer when the race is finally run
I want to hear well done from the Audience of One
But drive for recognition starts to get the best of me
All I've got to do is look around at the people serving selflessly
And they don't serve for glory
And they're not keeping score
There's a sign that's written on their hearts
A sign I've seen before
In the not too distant future
When the crowds all fade away
I'll stand alone before my Lord
And this is what I long to say…
I'm overjoyed to serve an Audience of One
It's what I've been created for ever since day one
And this is my song as I bow before Your throne
I love to hear well done from the Audience of One
So this will be my prayer 'til the race is finally run
I want to hear well done
I long to hear well done
I want to hear well done
From the Audience of One
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