What Am I to “Become?”
* Years ago, one of the most often asked question to little children was, “What do you want to be when you grow up.” Depending on the child, the answer could change a couple of times every day. This thinking weight heavily on our word today.
* (TEXT CALL) Last week we began a series of messages called ‘Blessed or Busted’. While most of us desire to be blessed, we must put ourselves in a position to receive blessings from God. (We’re talking about being ‘under the spout where the GLORY runs out’) All of us desire to be blessed of God, while certainly no one wants to be cursed by God. Last week, we began with the 4 “BE’S”. Be sure of our salvation, be passionate in our worship, be godly in our priorities, and be spiritual in our prayers. Today, let’s talk about ‘becoming.’ God has us on the developmental plan.
* (TEXT) The question is, what are we to become? In pro-sports, most team today have ‘farm-systems’. These are where a player can go, get some playing time and mature into their potential. This is God’s plan for us.
1. Become a purveyor of grace – The word purveyor is a seldom used word, but it is accurate in this case. A purveyor is a supplier, an outlet, a source, a spreader, and a ‘transmitter’ and this is exactly what we should be. Consider verse 7 (read). As believers, we instinctively realize that we have been given ‘grace.’ To receive God’s grace is huge, but we don’t just receive enough grace for us, for according this verse, we receive grace according to the size, the amount, or the measure of grace which the Savior has. Does HE pour all that He has on us at one time? No. He gives ample supply and once we are HIS, that supply of grace to us NEVER runs out. So we have grace – then we give grace, so we receive grace – so we give grace, so we receive grace – so we give grace. We are to become a conduit or a purveyor of grace.
* So what exactly does this mean? I submit it requires a reformation of our behavior. At salvation, this IS a fundamental change in one’s life. We call this transformation. Literally, God comes in and takes over. The new believer is under new ownership and management. He has received grace (that which He didn’t deserve) in the form of forgiveness, a personal relationship to God through Jesus, and a companion or counselor in the person of the Holy Spirit (who becomes your divine conscience). Under this new management, the most natural thing in life is that things change. Behaviors, decisions, attitudes, conversations, and more are controlled by a higher power. When we are tempted to return to that old habit, the divine counselor whispers in our ear warning us about our actions.
* When we are tempted to engage in malicious conversation we sense the urging that this is destructive and wrong. (By the way, some conversations are not as malicious as they are just plain hurtful). The list goes on & on.
* Yet, if we desire God’s blessing, our call is to realize the grace we have been given and then pass on the grace which God gives to us. This means when faced with a situation of asserting our personal desires, we become like Christ who, being God, refused to use HIS “God Status” to His own advantage but rather, took the lower road of becoming like us so that He could extend grace to each one of us. This is what God calls us to do. Where the rubber meets the road is found in those relationships that we have been wronged. Our knee-jerk reaction is to defend our turf and put someone in their place (and then feel ‘good’ about how we did it). I submit no one has wronged any of us worse than we have wronged God. And yet, our Lord has given so much grace to us that we don’t even have to face the consequences of our actions.
2. Become an encourager – Paul tells us to ‘walk worthy’ of our calling and to walk in humility, gentleness, and patience. If we walk worthy we will take about cue from the Apostle Paul who constantly spoke of being an encouragement to one another. In Acts 20, on the hills of the riot in Ephesus, Luke records that Paul sent for the disciple & encouraged them. Even in the face of personal trouble, Paul was encouraging the rest of the disciples. For the believer, there are times we have to reach deeply into our well of grace to encourage people when we are experiencing personal hurt. This is Paul’s example for us.
* Before we leave Paul, let’s consider this – Paul begins his letter to the Roman church with “I want to see you so I can encourage you & you can encourage me (that’s call being ‘mutually encouraged’) and then ends the letter by referring to the “God of encouragement”. As he ends his writings to the Corinthians (2 Cor 13:11), his message is to be restored, be encouraged, of the same mind, and at peace. In the last words of this letter (Ephesians) he says, I am sending you Tychicus – to encourage your hearts. The encouragement goes on and on and on, just like God’s love.
* There is a drought today; it is a drought of encouragers. There are many critics (Most of whom are ‘arm-chair’ quarterbacks. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain. It is someone who sits in his chair during a game and second guesses everything the quarterback does. Know what I’ve discovered, ‘arm-chair quarterbacks’ have no firsthand knowledge of the battle. They may have played at one time, but now they have moved on to other things and have no personal stake in the game.
* There is an old adage which clarifies this very well, “You cannot rock a boat & row a boat at the same time”). Sad to say, but if you want the position of ‘critics’, all positions are filed & there are no openings at this time.
* However, there are always openings in the family of God for encouragers. In fact, the benefits of being an encourager are many. First, your fellow believers will love to have you around. Second, you’ll put yourself in a position to be blessed by God. Are you an encourager?
3. Become a walking invitation – When Jesus was on earth, He was a walking invitation. He said, “Come to me, all who are weary & burdened and I will give you rest’ this is the invitation to ‘follow’ and find knowledge, peace, and rest. To Peter, while Peter is in the boat and Jesus is walking on the water, Jesus said, “COME,” this is the invitation to faith, that is, to step beyond what you can imagine and into HIS arms. It can be well said, that to answer His invitations doesn’t make much sense to our finite minds. Yet, Jesus still gives invitations to all. If He does it, shouldn’t we do it?
* We should become walking invitations to Jesus by how we act. Our actions and our response have the potential to draw people or to repel those same people. In one of our choir books, Geron Davis writes these lyrics; “When anyone looks at me, let them see Jesus.” To show the world Jesus in our lives would be an irresistible invitation to salvation.
* We should also be an invitation to worship, Bible Study, and other things. We should invite with our mouths. How long since you have spoken a word of invitation to you Sunday School Class, to worship, or to any gathering of the church? When people see us, they should know that we are concerned enough about them to offer a simple invitation.
* This could be a real change that is painful for some, but if we want to be blessed of God, we must, as we go, invite. It is His wish & command.
4. Become a promoter of unity – Many times, I have stood in this pulpit and apologized to our students for the world we have left them. It is a world which has, in large measure, turned its back on the concept of absolute truth as well as that of a sovereign God. In this mêlée, our teenagers are seemingly left with a world which is being overcome by the evil, & where, like Sodom & Gomorrah of old, righteous people are at a premium. In the same way I have apologized to our ‘young believers’ for the world, perhaps we need to apologize to the world for what they see inside the walls of churches. One of the reasons the community & the church is so disconnected is because even the lost world knows that when the church cannot seem to solve their disunity problems, something is wrong.
* Let’s re-read verse 4 & 5 and count the number “1’s” we find there. It reads there is one body, spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God, and one Father and this is preceded by these words, “Walk worthy of your calling with humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another in love AND diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.” In Christ Jesus, there is UNITY. I will follow to say that unity is not the same as unanimity. If we are in the Christ, then while on this earth, crisis will come. (Most of our crisis are not of eternal consequence) But when the crisis comes, we will find the solution without abusing one another. There will be no back room meetings, no personal assaults, no mean spirited conversations, but rather there will be unity to solve whatever situation arises. Believers can do this because we a not so earthly minded that our focus is NOT TO GET OUR way, but to find God’s way, which is always the best way. (ILLUS: Last Tuesday – Funeral & Sr) When struggles come & they will, we need to put on the mind of Christ and seek to find the His way to resolve problems. When you tempted to make that hateful phone call to give someone a piece of your mind, think about this; you may not have a piece to spare. Then consider, ‘if I do this, what will my lost friends thinks about my faith?’ When you are tempted to mistreat your waitress consider this; “What if she decides to attend services next week, will I be a stumbling block?” The list could go on and on. But the call is to not wait until someone else promote unity, but you be the first one. Be the one to seek, not the path of least resistance, but the path of most effectiveness and promote that, even when it costs you.