“I’ll Take What’s Behind Door Number Two”
by Pastor Brian Evans
Brain Evans is the pastor at Oakwood Baptist Church in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” (II Corinthians 5:6-7)
I want to read this entire parable because it is a very good illustration of walking by faith and not by sight. “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20 1:1-16)
Now please pay attention on purpose the first little while on, “I’ll Take Door Number Two.” I read to you in II Corinthians 5:7 that we are to walk by what? “Faith” and not by what? “Sight.” Then I said that Mathew chapter 20 was a good illustration of that principle: we are to walk by faith and not by sight.
What happened in the story? Here we have a man who owns and operates a vineyard, and he needs some day labor, so he goes down to Labor Ready to find some fellows to help him harvest his crop. He decides to go to the temp agency and see if he can find anybody who’ll work for him that day. He arrives down there at sunup and finds a group of eager men, all ready for hire. He offers them one day’s work for one day’s pay which was a penny. They agree to work a full day for a penny. By the way, the way things are going now, if they don’t quit raising taxes, I’ll feel like we are all working for a penny per day! We might even owe more than we’re making, but that’s a different sermon!
So now these men go to work, and by the way I’m with Mr. Truett Cathy and Chic-Fil-A. Somebody say, “Amen.” I’m glad there is somebody who is willing to take a stand for what they believe. If they weren’t closed on Sunday, I’d say let’s all go eat at Chic-Fil-A. Different sermon number two. I mean, you’re getting your money’s worth this morning!
So they all go to work about 9:00 am. The householder looks out on the vineyard, and says, “You know, we’re not getting it done quickly enough. I think I need some more help.” So he goes back down to the Labor Ready again and sees some guys that have just been hanging around, not working, and he hires them. Now, they are not going to work all day. A twelve-hour work day apparently was common in that day. So this second group is not going to work a whole day. They’re going to work most of the day, but he says to them now, “I’m not going to tell you exactly what I’m going to give you, but I promise you this -- whatever is right, I’ll give it to you. Whatever is right, that is what I’m going to do.”
They go to work, then the boss looks at the vineyard and says, “Boy, I still don’t have enough help. I have got to get out there and find some more laborers. So he goes back at noon, finds some more fellows, hires them and they’re just working half of the day, I guess. He says to them, “I’m not going to tell you exactly what you’re going to get for working today, but here’s what I’ll tell you –- you work hard, do what you’re suppose to, and at the end of the day, I will give you what is fair and right.” So those guys go out, and they begin to labor also.
Well, he looks at the vineyard again, and says, “You know what, it seems that no matter how many folks I hire, I still need more help.” So he goes back to Labor Ready, and finds some more fellows at 3:00 and says the same thing to them. “Just work hard, and I’ll do right by you.” Then at 5:00 he goes back, when there’s only one hour left to work. Boy, it hardly seems worth it to just serve for one hour, but the man says, “Look, you haven’t worked all day. At least I’ll give you one hour’s worth of work. I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to pay you. I’m going to give you what is right.” Now he’s got a big field full of workers. He’s got fellows that have been there all day long. He’s got others that have been there working from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm. He’s got others that have worked from 12:00 noon until 6:00 pm. He’s got a fourth group that worked from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm, and then he’s got a fifth group that only worked from 5:00 pm until 6:00 pm -- just one hour.
Now I said this is a good picture that we are to walk by faith and not by sight, and here’s the reason why... Only one group of these workers went out by sight, and that was the very first group. They knew exactly what they were going to get at the end of the day before the work day started. The employer said, “Now look, fellows, you come and work all day from 6:00 am until 6:00 pm,” or like we used to say, “From bell to bell.” “You work from bell to bell, and here’s what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a shiny new penny.” They were the only ones that worked by sight.
Everybody else that worked that day, worked by faith, because they had really no idea what they were going to end up with at the end of the day. They knew that they had the promise of the householder. They had the word of the employer that he would pay them what was right, and that was all they had. He said, “Look, you guys are starting at 9:00 am and when 6:00 pm comes I’ll take care of you, and that which is right, I’m going to give you.” Others started at 12:00 noon, and at 3:00 pm and again at 5:00 pm, and he said, “Now you work until 6:00 pm, and whatever is right, that is what I’m going to give you.” They didn’t know what his idea of what right was. All they knew was that guy hired us and said that he’d do right by us, and so we’re going to put our faith in his word and serve and work however much time he gives us, trusting that he will do right by us.
Now, that is a picture of the way I’m suppose to serve God and live my life. That is a picture of the way I am suppose to spend my days in service to my King. You see, I don’t really know exactly what God will do for me when I go to Heaven. I know that there are rewards. I know that God says He’ll reward those that work for Him and serve Him, but I do not know exactly what those rewards are. The Bible only gives us the promise of rewards and some general idea about what they are. So if I’m going to serve God, I’ve got to serve God by faith. If I’m going to work for Him, I have to work by faith. If I’m going to labor for Him and spend my life and be spent for Him, I have to do that by faith, because I don’t know exactly what’s going to be given me when I see Him face to face. All I have is a promise, but I know I can trust the One who made the promise. The one thing I do know is that God is good!
Now in the world, I get to look around and see what I can have. I can see exactly what this world has to offer. If I give myself to pursuing what this world has to offer, boy that’s no secret. I mean, I see the cars. I see the houses. I see the clothes. I see the fame. I see the power. I see all the things this world has to offer. Man, it is all around us. I see that. That’s by sight.
I can make a decision that I’m going to give myself to gain what this world has to offer, and that is by sight. I can say, “You know what, this looks mighty good around here. I like those cars. I like those houses, and I like all the things the world has to offer. I think that is what I will live my life for.”
However, I also have to make a choice if I’m going to spend my life serving my King. And when I choose to serve Him instead of mammon, money, fame, power, and possessions, I don’t know exactly what He’s going to give me when it’s over. All I know is that my King and Master has promised me that He’ll give me that which is right. So I’m going to do what He says. I’m going to do what He wants. I’m going to go where He tells me to go. I’m going spend my life the way He tells me to spend it. Why? Because I have faith in His promise. I have faith in His Word, and when I see Him face to face, I believe that I will be happy and thankful that I served Him and trusted Him for what He would give me, rather than what the world can give me.
You see, I’ve never seen Heaven. I’ve never seen the street of gold. I’ve never seen my mansion. But I have faith that it is everything His Word promises and much more. In fact, the half cannot be told!
Brother Chris and I were out soul winning yesterday. By the way, we had about 14 people out Thursday night witnessing and winning souls to Christ, and the teenagers go out every Wednesday, and some of us went out yesterday, I thank God for that. We had some folks that went out for the very first time this week. They had never been out soul winning. As we went door to door, we began to see homes, some that might be termed ‘grandiose’ and some that might be referred to as ‘not so hot’!
Chris said, “I think I’d like to have some land. Preacher, do you think we’ll have any land in Heaven?” I said, “I don’t know. I know we’ll have a mansion, but how close they’ll be together I really don’t know. I know there are crowns, but what exactly what those crowns entail, I don’t know. I know I’ll be rewarded, but exactly what it is, I don’t know.” So whatever I earn serving my Maker and my Master, Almighty God, I earn by faith, because I don’t really know exactly what is waiting on me, but the one thing I know is that I can trust Him. I know He loves me. I know that whatever I get when I go to Heaven is going to be so much more lasting and so much more wonderful than anything this old world has to offer. So much more amazing and eternal than anything this world has to offer.
Now I’m going to Heaven by my faith in Jesus Christ. Not everybody goes to Heaven, because everybody doesn’t place their faith in Christ. The Bible is clear that salvation is available to ‘whosoever will’ and it is by grace through faith. It’s not something that I can be good enough or religious enough to earn or deserve. It’s a Gift that has been paid for by Jesus’ blood shed on Calvary, but I have to be willing to receive that Gift. But even among those who are truly saved and on their way to Heaven, not everybody is going to have the same reward, because many are not willing to serve and obey Him. Everybody that has faith in Christ and they’re saved and going to Heaven will not be rewarded the same way, because not everybody serves Him and lives for Him after they get saved.
Some say, “I want what I can have by sight.” By pursing that which I can have by sight, I am going to somewhat exclude what I could have received by faith, because pursuing that which I can see consumes my schedule, consumes my energy, consumes my time. See, you have a decision to make, and I have a decision to make. Are we going to pursue that which we see, or are we going to pursue that which can only be obtained by faith? Are we going to say, “You know what, I’m going to live my life trying to obtain everything I can possibly get, bigger, better, more, richer, bigger numbers, bigger boxes, bigger cars, bigger everything.” If you give yourself to that and that’s all your life is about, you’ll find you’re thirst can never be quenched or satisfied, you’ll be driven to want more and more and more and more. Your whole life is eaten up with the pursuit of what you see around you, and it’s never enough, never satisfying.
Or are you going to say, “Well, if I have some of those things, that’s fine and dandy, but I’m going to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) If God adds to me a BMW, well, praise the Lord! “I’m going to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and if He adds to me a Rolex, wow! Great. But I’m not going to seek the Rolex and not be a good Christian. I’m not going to seek the BMW and not be a good Christian. I’m not going to have the biggest house in town and have to work so many hours that I miss church and I can’t do anything for my God, Who saved me from Hell and gave me Heaven and promised me eternal life. You have to say, “I’m going to choose between sight and faith.” Therein lies the title for my message.
It is 1963. I am five years old. There’s a new television show hosted by a man named Monty Hall called “Let’s Make a Deal.” When they started that show, they just had three curtains, different prizes, and people would bring an item to the show and trade that item up for something nicer. People would bring old shoes and hats and stuff, and before long folks started dressing crazy to get noticed. It wasn’t long before everybody in the whole audience was dressing up wild and looking crazy. He would bring people onto the stage, and folks would compete to be able to trade up their prize to something better. Maybe a fellow would bring an old shoe, and he’d trade up for $500. About the time he was ready to go sit down, Mr. Hall would say, “Hang on a minute. I may give you a chance to make a decision. You can go back to your seat with $500, (That is sight.) or you can trade that for what’s behind door number two. (That is faith). You can keep that $500 and go sit down or you can swap it for what you can’t see.”
Now the fact of the matter is that I don’t think you ought to have faith in Monty Hall. If I’d been on that television show, I think I’d take the money and run. Boy, you lay $500 in my hand and see how fast I can run. In fact, I recommend you all try it today and see what happens! It’d be a great experiment for you. I don’t place my faith and trust in a man.
But the fact of the matter is that God gives me the same choice. The world has a lot of things I can see that are not wrong things to have, and I can give my life to having them. If I give my life to have them then I sacrifice the time that I could spend serving my God. I only have one life, and I am the one who decides how I spend it. If I spend my time serving my God, then I get what’s behind curtain number two, but I don’t know yet what it is. I don’t get to see it until I have it. I don’t get to see it until it’s mine. So I have to make a choice to say, “I see all these things in the world, and boy they look mighty good, and there’s nothing wrong with having some of them. However, I also see that my God has given me a promise that if I serve Him and live for Him and do right by Him, when I get to Heaven, whatever it is that’s waiting on me will be so much better than anything I could have here. So I choose door number two. I choose curtain number two.”
You see, the way to the kingdom of Heaven is not by sight, but by faith. We serve, not knowing exactly how we’ll be rewarded, just that we will be. We can see the rewards the world offers, but we don’t really see ahead of time that which God offers. We just have His Word on it. We have a promise. We have the same promise that the laborers had, that He will give us that which is right. So we have to serve by faith. We have to work by faith.
You see, I tithe to the work of Christ by faith, believing God commanded it and He keeps His promises. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10) I have no idea what the reward is for tithing, but I know there is one. I know there is always a reward for doing right. When I give offerings that are over and above the tithe, God promises great blessing. I don’t know what it is, but I believe that God will do right by me because God is good, and God keeps His promises.
I am faithful by faith. I don’t know exactly what the reward is for being faithful, but I know there is one, and I’m trusting that God’s reward for my being faithful is something I’ll be pleased with when I get it. I forgive by faith. I love my enemies by faith. I give to others by faith. I study the Bible by faith. I teach my Sunday school class by faith. I pastor this church by faith. I have no idea what reward might be waiting on a pastor who serves and loves and gives his life for his people, but I know there is one. You that run bus routes, you have to run those bus routes by faith, you understand. Hey, we don’t pay you guys. We don’t give you a reward. Your God, He has a reward for you, but it’s behind curtain number two. You have to say, “You know what, I don’t know what the reward is for running a bus route. I don’t know what is waiting on me because I gave my Saturdays up to go out in the highways and byways and visit young people and invite them to ride the Sunday school bus and come to the church house where they can hear the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and find out how they can be born again and saved by the Grace of God and go to Heaven when they die. I don’t know what the reward is for doing that, but I know there is one. It’s behind curtain number two.”
I don’t know what the reward is for suffering being wronged and being determined to keep doing what’s right. Boy, let me tell you something. If there’s anything this generation needs, we need to learn how to suffer being wronged and be a Christian about it. Man, we pitch a fit for the first little thing that happens. We do not have any ability to say, “You know what, I can take it. Okay, I’ve been wronged. Let’s just keep serving the Lord.” Just let it go in one side of your heart and out the other. Get over it. Get up. Grow up. Get beyond it. Get past it. Forgive. Let it go. I don’t know what the reward is for turning the other cheek or for preferring one another, but I know there is one. The truth is it’s behind door number two. I have never yet seen it.
Years ago, when I was in my mid to late twenties, I was a sales manager of a company. I had about eighteen or twenty guys working under me, and my future financially was set. I had a great benefits package, everything you could imagine, a brand new car to drive. I could go out and get whatever I wanted. I had the keys to a multimillion-dollar business. I was such a young man, I thought, “By the time I’m fifty years old, I’ll own a place like this. By the time I’m fifty years old, my name will be on a sign like this place, and I’ll have all those guys working for me, and I’ll be making a million dollars a year.” That’s what my boss made.
But one day God spoke to my heart about pursuing the ministry as my life. I never will forget that I had counseled with my pastor. He liked my tithe, you know; and I’d always enjoyed giving it. I love giving to the cause of Christ, always have, and I trust I always will. Why? I believe in what we’re doing. I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe in running those buses out there, and they take fuel and insurance and promotions and prizes. I’m saying I believe in what we’re doing. I said, “Preacher, how do I make a decision like that. How do I make a decision of walking away from what someday might be a half a million dollar a year job, a million a year job, boy all the things I could do for the cause of Christ if I just stayed in the business world and gave my years to that.” I said, “How do I make that decision?”
He said, “Well, Son, you have got to go home. You have got to clear your schedule. You have to find a place to get down on your face before God and pray, and when your heart gets really soft, you make the decision. When you feel like your will is surrendered to the will of God, you make that decision. Then when you get up from that place of prayer, you don’t let anybody talk you out of it.”
Well, that sounded easy, in a way. I said, “Okay.” That’s what I did. I got up one morning. I had to be to work at 12:00. My wife was working at the bank at that time, and I sent her off to work. I sat there and got me some water because I planned to be there awhile. I got some water, and I got down on the floor in my living room, and I began to pray, “Oh God, show me what I need to do. I want to serve You, but I’m not sure whether I need to serve You in the business world or serve You full-time in the ministry. Really, I’ve got to know. You’ve got to help me. You’ve got to settle this. Please, help me.” Then I began to try to yield my heart to Him, and to my shock, in about five minutes I had to quit praying. The answer was so obvious. Then I felt my heart yield to His desire to go in that day and tell my boss that I was going to resign my position as manager and see if he would let me become a part-time salesman and pursue Bible college.
So that day, I got in at 12:00, and I knocked on my boss’s door. He’s by far the richest man I’ve personally ever been acquainted with. I loved him. He’s in Heaven now. He and I were dear friends, and we would pray together and talk a lot. He was in his 70’s. He’d been in business for around fifty years. I went in and said, “Boss, I prayed this morning, and God told me to do something.”
He said, “What’s that?”
I said, “God told me to resign as manager and to become a part-time salesman and to go to Bible college and pursue the ministry full-time.”
He said, “Now, Brian, God has not said anything to me about this. God would tell me if it was God’s will for you. I’m your boss. He would surely tell me you’re suppose to quit, but God hasn’t said anything to me about it.”
I said, “Well, Boss, God talked to me about it.”
He said, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I know I’m not paying you enough. Here’s what we’ll do, starting this month, I’ll guarantee you…” and he named a figure. It was about a $30,000 dollar a year raise from where I was, and I was already in a good place. He said, “I’ll give you a $30,000 a year raise. You go out and pick out anything you want to drive. I don’t care if it’s a Corvette. You just pick it out, and take the keys and drive it until you’re tired of it. Plus, I’m going to make you boss of the whole place.” General Sales Manager.
At that moment, I revisited the experience on my living room floor. I said, “God, are You sure about this?”
I said, “Boss, I can’t do it.”
He said, “Son, you’re walking away from big money. Son, this is going to hurt you and I both. This place won’t be the same.”
I said, “I can’t help it. God called me to preach. I need to quit fiddle fooling around, trying to keep a foot in both ponds, and go after what God wants me to do.”
He let me go to part-time. I had to work the worst part of the schedule when nobody came in much. We owned two homes and had a fancy automobile that I was paying for by the month. I can remember standing out on the edge of the deck outside praying for God to help me pay a bill that was due the next day. The truth is, I’d never had to pray like that before. We’d always had plenty. I remember one day I was out there, and somebody rode by and said, “Hey, I just felt like I needed to come by and give you a check.” Gave me a check for $500. Every bill I had got paid, never late on a bill. That’s been about twenty-five years ago I guess.
Now I’m past fifty years old. I ride by the place sometimes and think, “Would that have happened? Would I have had my name on that place by now? Would I have made that million dollars a year?” I don’t know if I would have or not. You know why? Because when I was a kid preacher, I chose curtain number two. I chose to live by faith, and not by sight, to trust the promise of God rather than the promises I was hearing from the world.
You say, “What’s waiting on you in Heaven? How is God going to reward you?” I don’t know, but I know I can trust Him, and so should you. God is good. What He has in store for us is so much better than anything we can dream up, anything this old world can promise.
We are losing our country, and let’s not just blame the politicians. We’re losing our country because people like you and I no longer choose door number two. Too many of God’s people who are saved and on their way to Heaven are choosing to live by sight, and choosing to live for everything this world offers, instead of putting their faith in the God who saved them and promised to bless and reward them if they would sell out and serve Him by faith. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to get when I get to Heaven, but I trust Him to do right by me.
How about you? I wouldn’t necessarily trust some man to let go of what’s in my hand that I can see and trade it in for what I can’t see. But I will trust the God who loved me enough to send His Son to die for me every time. I choose what’s behind Door Number Two.