A promising artist once painted a picture of the Last Supper. He took it to the writer Tolstoy for his opinion. Carefully and understandingly the Russian master of words studied the canvas. Then pointing to the central Figure, he declared “you do not love Him.” .......“Why that is the Lord Jesus Christ,” explained the artist! ”I know,” insisted Tolstoy, “but you don’t love Him. If you loved Him more, you would paint Him better. That can also be said about our serving not just here in our church but in our homes and communities! A lot can be said about the way we serve one another by the picture we paint of Christ in our life! Are we [Christians, the Church] making much of Him? Are we just going through the motions of doing as little as possible because that’s why we hire a pastor? Seriously think about that! A Christian’s life or service is never done until God says so! What does the word servant mean! Servant means....... one that serves others [a public servant]; a man, woman or child that performs duties about the person or home of a master or personal employer. J I Packer said this about the word "Servant" “In our English New Testament “Servant” usually represents the Greek “doulos” (slave). Sometimes it means “diakonos” (deacon or minister); this is strictly accurate, for doulos and diakonos are synonyms. Both words denote a man who is not at his own disposal, but is his master's purchased property. Bought to serve his master's needs, to be at his beck and call every moment, the slave's sole business is to do as he is told. Christian service therefore means, first and foremost, living out a slave relationship to one's Savior. “ Paul wrote these words.....1Cor 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” How does one glorify God in their body? By serving instead of being served!
• It means getting involved with adoration to glorify God.
• It means stepping up to the plate without having to be asked.
• It means filling a hole or gap so that we can be a stable foundation.
• It means sacrifice for the sake of the family.
• It means to think of others above yourself.
• It means spiritual sweet from the whole church body.
Listen to what C T Studd said “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” As Spurgeon said “Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill them up with holy service.” Again a servant’s life is never finished until the master says so! That’s what it means to be a servant of God. Especially in our case and in this church! Christ is the head of the church and we are His slaves.......servants and we are to be used for His glory! Gordon MacDonald said these words “Whosoever gives a cup of cold water to a little one, refreshes the heart of the Father. To do as God does, is to receive God; to do service to one of his children is to receive the Father.” Remember what Jesus said......“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (Christians, the church), you did it to me.' Matt 25:37-40
Since the beginning of his letter! Paul has exalting Christ as extremely valuable and vital to the church. Paul has displaying Christ as extremely supreme in creation....in the church...and ultimate in reconciliation found in the Gospel. But! Paul shifts gears here as he explains the responsibility of the church...the Christian....the servant or slave of God! Remember! We are His hands....feet...and voices to the church and to the ends of the world!
As I said last week! Paul wrote these profound words........2Cor 5:18-20 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” In this portion of Paul’s letter to the church we see 4 characteristics of a servant’s heart or life.
1. A SERVANTS ATTITUDE (V24)
“I rejoice in my sufferings” What did you just say Paul? That’s kind of a morbid statement wouldn’t you say? Only a Christian can say those words! Reason being! Christ is supreme over every situation! I watched a video the other day about a young 12 year old boy named Victor Watters who died of cancer this past month. As I was studying this passage and this very sentence “I rejoice in my suffering” I thought of this little boy who found victory and joy even in cancer! Paul’s present suffering was a Roman prison cell.....what were his charges? Preaching the gospel to the people.This didn’t stop Paul from finding joy in suffering. This didn’t stop Paul from serving the church and the people around him. This didn’t stop Paul from having a right attitude despite the circumstance. See a SERVANT’S ATTITUDE should always be filled with joy no matter how trivial or hard the situation might be at the time. A SERVANT’S ATTITUDE doesn’t say “I’m too busy, let someone else do it” A SERVANT’S ATTITUDE says “I rejoice no matter what for the sake of the body...the church!”
2. A SERVANTS CHARGE (V25-V27)
For Paul the preaching of God’s word was the most important element in the church. Biblical exposition (verse by verse) was vital for the body of the church. A Christian will only grow by reading and hearing God’s word. This is God’s charge or command to His servants. There are no short cuts to understanding God’s word! It requires you read the text....sing the text....memorize the text...... and most of all apply the text. This is a charge that God has put on the church! As Paul said to Timothy in his last letter 2Ti 4:1-5 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. Why? He continues to say..... (v3) “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
3. A SERVANTS PURPOSE (V28)
What is my purpose here? Helping the church to grow in unity and maturity! Ultimately my purpose is to be used for the glory of God as a slave to my Redeemer. We are not to stay like infants..........we are to grow! Paul’s passion was for the church to mature and grow in Christ! Paul wasn’t in the business of “I’ll save ‘em, and you raise ‘em” kind of thinking! Rather his joy was to present to Christ believers who were growing and maturing in their faith. Remember what Paul said to the church in Thessalonica “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” 1Thess 2:19-20. Everyone [here as believer] has a responsibility to serve one another in some capacity. Whether it’s helping in the kitchen....helping with the children.....cleaning up.......shaking people’s hands as they come into the building......providing a meal for someone.....discipling someone and so on. Whatever the task might be......we are called to serve the church body for the glory of God, because this is what pleases our Master who is in Heaven. 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (Christians, the church), you did it to me.' Matt 25:40
4. A SERVANTS ENERGY (V29)
Everything we do is to be done with all our might [our energy] for the glory of God. The word “labor” denotes the image of a person who has taken an extreme beating. It’s looking at person who is exhausted from a long hard day’s work. It means to be in agony as a athlete trains for the Olympics. Paul strained every physical and moral sinew to present every man complete in Christ. As Paul said “For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” 1 Thess 2:9. We have a duty to the body and most of all God our Master to serve Him until we are in agony.....exhausted! Luther worked so hard that many days according to biographers, he fell into bed. Moody’s bedtime prayer on one occasion, as he rolled his tired body into bed, was “Lord, I’m tired! Amen” John Wesley rode sixty to seventy miles many days of his life and preached an average of three sermons a day, whether he was riding or not. Alexander MacLaren a Baptist preacher would get to his office when the workmen went to work so he could hear their boots outside, and would put on workmen’s boots to remind him why he was in his study. G Campbell Morgan kept a newspaper clipping for twenty five years, entitled “Sheer Hard Work,” and said: what is true of the minister is true of every man who bear the name of Christ. We have not begun to touch the great business of salvation when we have sung “rescue the perishing, care for the dying.” We have not entered into the business of evangelizing the city or the world until we have put our own lives into the business, our own immediate physical endeavour, inspired by spiritual devotion.”
We are all called to serve not be served! It doesn’t matter if you’re the pastor or the person who just became a Christian! Christ can use you, in any situation...Whether you’re young or old! There is a story of a woman in Africa who became a Christian. Being filled with gratitude, she decided to do something for Christ. She was blind, uneducated, and seventy years of age. She came to her missionary with her French Bible and asked her to underline John 3:16 in red ink. Mystified, the missionary watched her as she took her Bible and sat in front of a boys’ school in the afternoon. When school dismissed, she would call a boy or two and ask them if they knew French. When they proudly responded that they did, she would say, “Please read this passage underlined in red.” When they did, she would ask “Do you know what this means?” And she would tell them about Christ. The missionary says that over the years twenty-four young men became pastors due to her work. She had a servant’s attitude because Christ was supreme in her life! She had a servants charge because Christ was supreme in her life! She had a servant’s purpose because Christ was supreme in her life! She had a servant’s energy because Christ was supreme in her life! She was a servant who painted a HD quality picture of Christ in her life. What’s more amazing is that this is the Christian's call by God to the church. The question is ..........are listening to His call today?