Summary: 1- Committed to encouraging 2- Committed to contributing 3- Committed to leading 4- Committed to demonstrating mercy
INTRO.- ILL.- Lawyer and statesman Daniel Webster was a powerful orator who gave early evidence of his quick mind and his way with words. One day Webster’s father, who was to be absent from the home, left Daniel and his brother Ezekiel specific work instructions.
But on his return he found the task still undone, and questioned his sons about their idleness. "What have you been doing, Ezekiel?" he asked. "Nothing, sir." "Well, Daniel, what have you been doing?" "Helping Zeke, sir."
That sounds like some people today. “Why should I do something if no one else is?” Some reason this way: “I don’t see anybody else around here doing anything, so why should I?”
Or some may think, “Why should I do much of anything? Isn’t this what we pay people for?” That’s the thinking that many people have when it comes to the church. “Isn’t this what we pay a preacher for?”
We may incorrectly assume that if a church is to grow it’s the preacher’s responsibility to make it happen. And if it doesn’t happen, then it’s his fault. It doesn’t work that way, however.
What did you do this last week? I mean, to serve the Lord and to serve someone else? Did you just live for you or did you do something kind, something good for someone else?
And what plans have you made to serve the Lord within the programs of the church? Are you thinking about volunteering to do something in the church?
ILL.- The sign on the stage proclaimed: "The Motionless Man: Make Him Laugh. Win $100." The temptation was irresistible. For three hours boys and girls, men and women, performed every antic and told every joke they knew.
But Bill Fuqua, the Motionless Man, stood perfectly still. Fuqua discovered his unique talent at the age of fourteen while standing motionless in front of a Christmas tree as a joke.
Doing nothing is really impossible--even for the Motionless Man. He may not laugh at your jokes, but he readily admits that he still has to breathe and blink--occasionally. Sometimes, however, he appears so motionless during his routines at shopping malls and amusement parks that he is sometimes mistaken for a mannequin.
"The Motionless Man.” Sounds like a lot of churches today. They have mastered the fine art of doing almost nothing. Is this also true of us personally when it comes to the Lord and serving?
Romans 12:6-8 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
PROP.- Let’s examine these last four basic spiritual gifts in order to help us find ways to serve.
ILL.- There is a story about a preacher leaving a church. At his farewell dinner, he tried to encourage the members, saying, “Don’t be so sad. The next preacher might be better than me.” One member replied, “That’s what the last preacher said, but it just keeps getting worse.”
Those words certainly didn’t encourage that preacher! That’s kind of like saying, “Don’t let the door hit you on your backside as you leave.” What a left-handed slap that was!
ILL.- William Arthur Ward said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”
The gift of encouragement is very special. And obviously, not everyone has that gift. Some people just seem to have a knack for making others feel good and for building them up.
And that’s what encouragement does. IT BUILDS UP PEOPLE.
Romans 15:1-2 “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
I Cor. 14:12 “Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.”
ILL.- I’ve heard it said that if it doesn’t build up people then don’t do it. This goes for the programs of the church and all of life. I know of a church that changed their youth program from Wednesday night to Sunday nights and the attendance fell off. They didn’t change back to Wednesday but the falling attendance should have told them something.
Likewise, if we adopt some program in the church and the people don’t get too excited about it then perhaps we shouldn’t do it. If people don’t support some program with their attendance, then it must not be something that builds up people.