Service Must Be A Priority
A story is told of a Roman aqueduct at Segovia, Spain. It was built in 109 A.D. For 1800 years, it carried cool water from the mountains to the hot and thirsty city. Nearly 60 generations of men drank from its flow. Then came a new generation, who said, "This aqueduct is so great a marvel that it ought to be preserved for our children, as a museum piece. We shall relieve it of its centuries-long labor."
They did; they laid modern iron pipes. They gave the ancient bricks and mortar a reverent rest. And the aqueduct began to fall apart. The sun beating on the dry mortar caused it to crumble. The bricks and stone sagged and threatened to fall. “What ages of service could not destroy idleness disintegrated.” Resource, Sept./ Oct., 1992, p. 4.
i. An Individual Problem - There are many Christians who have placed themselves upon the shelf and are now in the same condition as this Roman aqua duct.(dried up and falling apart)
ii. A Collective Problem - As a result of individuals who neglect to serve, many churches have become “museum pieces” and are now irrelevant to the communities they were called to serve.
The Apostle Paul, in Romans compares the church to a “Body” The human body serves as a great illustration as to the workings, plan and potential of the Church. Join me in Romans 12 as we consider the thought “Service Must Be A Priority” The first thing I would like to see is:
I. The Unity In Christian Service v4-5
Paul begins with a comparison. He compares the “Church” to the human body. Notice:
A. The Illustration - v4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
Many Systems that make up the human body
1. Cardiovascular System
2. Circulatory System
3. Digestive System
4. Endocrine System
5. Excretory System
6. Immune System
7. Integumentary System
8. Lymphatic System
9. Muscular System
10. Nervous System
11. Reproductive System
12. Respiratory System
13. Skeletal System
14. Urinary System
15. Sensory System
Each of these systems work independently and also work together in order for us to function properly. Paul uses the human body as a grand example of diversity and unity.
This same unity of design and purpose is to exist within the body of Christ. That is the idea he turns to in - v5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.Unity in the church involves more than simply getting along, it requires each of us serving our specific purpose and working together.
It is amazing how the body works, if you wake up in the middle of the night to check on a noise that you heard and you stub your little toe, your whole body hurts. From what I am old this same little toe has a large impact on your balance.
Now, we don’t put much focus on the little toe, you never hear of someone paying thousands of dollars for plastic surgery to improve the look of their little toe. But it is a part of the body, it serves a purpose and is beneficial to the rest of your body.
There are some areas of service that may not receive much attention, but are needful nonetheless. Every part of Christ’s body is needful, useful and profitable. But in many cases certain elements of “the Body” are not working together. When this happens, troubles will arise for the entire body. We have seen the “Illustration” notice the “Explanation”
B. The Explanation -v5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. The human body is made up of various components, they all work together seamlessly. Take eating for example… We smell food cooking, we begin to feel hungry, we walk with our feet to the kitchen, use our hands to gather the desired portion of food, use our fingers to hold the utensils and our arms to move the food to our mouth that has teeth to chew the food and taste buds to taste the home cooked goodness.
This is the kind of seamless cooperation that should exist within the body of Christ. All of us working together to accomplish one specific goal.
Unfortunately many have come to believe that they can get along just as well without other believers. There are also many who seem to think that the rest of the body can handle things without them! There is a parallel passage to Romans 12 found in:
I Corinthians 12:12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. (NLT)
Every part of the body has a duty and all parts come together for the good of the whole. To put it plainly if you are saved, you are a part of the body. If you are a part of the body, there is a place of service for you… AND SERVICE MUST BE A PRIORITY!! Most people wish to serve God - but in an advisory capacity only.
Some like to stand back and watch - During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, "Sir, I am a corporal!" The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, "Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again." It was none other than President George Washington. - Today in the Word, March 6, 1991.
Some like to serve as consultants - There is no shortage of people who will tell you what needs to be done in the church…. No shortage of people who will tell you everything that is wrong with the church, but these same people are never the ones who are willing to roll up their sleeves and shoulder the load with those who are doing more than their share of service!
Some like to talk about what they are going to do -
Barney Fife: [while relaxing on the front porch after Sunday dinner] You know what I think I'm gonna' do?
Andy Taylor: What?
Barney Fife: I'm gonna' go home, have me a little nap, and then go over to Thelma Lou's and watch a little TV.
Andy Taylor: Mmm-hmm.
Barney Fife: Yeah, I believe that's what I'll do. Go home... have a nap... and then over to Thelma Lou's for TV.
Andy Taylor: Mmm.
Barney Fife: Yep, that's the plan. Home... little nap... then...
Malcolm Tucker: [interrupting] For the love of Mike *do* it! Do it! Just *do* it! Go take a nap, go to Thelma Lou's for TV, just *do it*!
If you know what needs to be done, JUST DO IT! How can you perform Christian Service? Because of the abilities that God has given us: This brings us to the next point.
II. The Ability In Christian Service v6&11
We can accomplish things that may seem impossible because of the power that is at our disposal. God has given each of His children a gift to use to serve Him - Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
A. Our Abilities Are Given By God’s Grace - v6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,
By His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.
Refer back to - v3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
If you are good at anything, if you accomplish anything it is not because of yourself but rather the One who works in and through you!
Paul realized this - 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am:If you are successful it is by the grace of God, If you have been called to do what seems impossible, you can by the grace of God!
B. Our Abilities Are Given For God’s Glory - v11…fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
In verses 6-10 Paul describes many of the gifts that are handed out to God’s children. He goes on to mention the purpose of these gifts in verse 11 - “serving the Lord”
If you are able to
o Play an instrument
o Be a leader
o Be an encourager
o Or to serve in any capacity - If you have any of these talents, it is because God (through His grace) gave you that ability.
Why did He give you that ability? So that you can use it to bring glory to His name! It has been said that if you don’t use your talent you will lose it… and that is true! It is also true that if you abuse your talent you may lose it.
There are some of you who can’t do certain things that you used to do, because you have neglected that gift. There are some who can’t do what you used to because you have used it for the wrong reason (possibly for personal glory)
III. The Diversity In Christian Service v6-8
There are several talents or gifts that Paul mentions in these few verses:
Prophecy - v6a whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Ministry - v7a Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering:
Teaching - v7b or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Encouraging - v8a Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation:
Giving - v8b he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity;
Leadership -v8c he that ruleth, with diligence;
Compassion - v8d he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
Another of these lists of gifts is found in - Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
No parts of the body are unimportant and none should be left out! Every member of Christ’s body has been gifted in some area or another.
Do what God gifted you to do and leave others to do what He gifted them to do! Don't be jealous of what the grace of God has produced in the life of another believer!Figure out what your gift is and devote yourself to honoring God with that gift!
We have seen The Unity, Ability & Diversity involved in Christian service... Finally I would like to examine:
IV. The Responsibility In Christian Service v6-11
A. Loyalty Is Our Responsibility - v6-8
If we are using our talents for God’s glory we must be loyal to God’s call and serve fervently: Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Serve will all your heart!
Teach with everything you have!
Encourage everyone you encounter!
Take the leadership responsibility seriously!
Show compassion to all men!
Whatever your gift, give it all!
B. Love Is Our Responsibility - v9 Let love be without dissimulation… 10 Be kindly affection one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Paul is saying “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” “Love each other with genuine affection”
If we are going to serve others, it is going to be out of obedience to Christ and it will be rooted in love! We are told in Galatians 5:13 to “serve one another by love”
C. Laboring Is Our Responsibility - v11 …fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Notice the way we are to labor:
Fervent in Spirit - not lazy, but working hard
Serving the Lord - and working enthusiastically.
Distributing to the necessity of the saints - When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.
Given to hospitality - Always be eager to practice hospitality.
As a supervisor I used to receive calls from employees telling me they were unable to come to work… then came excuse after excuse. There would be occasions when I would need people to work Saturdays and then would come more excuses. If you are around church folk for any amount of time, there will be excuses as to why they cannot serve in some capacity!
There are no excuses for neglect of service - General William Booth, the founder of the salvation Army lost his eyesight. His son was given the difficult task of telling his father there would be no recovery. "Do you mean that I am blind?" the General asked,” I shall never see your face again?" "No, probably not in this world." Said his son "Bramwell," said General Booth, declared "I have done what I could for God and for His people with my eyes. Now I shall do what I can for God without my eyes." - David Ugsberger, 70 X 7, The Freedom of Forgiveness.
It is clear through this text and many others that WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST:
A "Casting Crowns" song asks this question::
If we are Christ’s body, are His arms reaching?
If we are Christ’s body, are His hands healing?
If we are Christ’s body, are His words teaching?
If we are Christ’s body, are His feet going?
Christian friend, SERVICE MUST BE A PRIORITY!