Summary: Sermon to encourage Christians to serve one another and the world

(Hand out Peppermints to Congregation)

Months ago I was preaching and a few minutes into the sermon I started coughing. I was not aware of it at the time but a man left the sanctuary and came back with a cup of cold water that saved me and the sermon. I knew then that the Lord wanted me to develop this message.

The church today is in need of some great servants. In many ways we have become consumer Christians who see the church as the servant who meets our needs. And as far as the world is concerned, we condemn the world but do little to serve the Gospel to the world.

Here Jesus shows in word and deed the importance of being a servant of the King.

We start by looking at


Three times before Jesus makes His statement about the cup of water, there is the record of the disciples arguing or complaining.

In the first case, the disciples are arguing with the Scribes. We are not told what they are arguing about but we can imagine that they are arguing about Jesus. In the second incident, the disciples are arguing about which one of them was going to be the greatest. And in the third case they are complaining about someone who was not a part of their group that was healing people in Jesus’ name.

In the first incident, instead of joining the disciples in their argument with the Scribes, Jesus heals a little boy. In the case of the disciples arguing about who was going to be the greatest, Jesus brings a child in their midst and teaches them that the greatest is like a child. In the third case He shares these words about a Cup of Cold Water.

As far as the world is concerned, we spend a lot more time condemning the world than we spend serving the world as salt and light. It’s easier that way. It doesn’t cost us anything. But it doesn’t change the world either.

In the church it seems that we often spend more time arguing with each other about things that have very little value rather than serving each other. We’re just like the disciples, trying to be the greatest so others can serve us.

There are so many in the church today who reflect the negative attitudes of our modern-day society. I call them the Negative Neds and the Negative Nellies. I apologize if your name is Ned or Nellie. Instead of giving cups of cold water they pour cold water on everything good in the church.

And if that is not enough we spend the rest of our time criticizing other churches just like the disciples were complaining about someone who was not in their little group doing ministry in Jesus’ name. Often we do that to hide our lack of service.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?


Well listen again to Jesus “Truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.”

Matthew’s gospel records Jesus as using the phrase “cold water.” The scholars tell us that this is significant because someone had to make an extra trip to the well to get a cup of cold water.

Serving will cost you. It will cost you some time. It will cost you some effort. You may have to swallow your pride. You may have to serve by being slow to speak at the next business meeting. You may have to make a commitment to teach that class that no one wants to teach.

Later Jesus gave the disciples another example of the power of service by washing their feet. You may have to serve as if you are washing someone’s feet.

In the church serving one another is a powerful thing. It helps us avoid the conflicts and arguing. It teaches our children how church should be.

More than that, it catches the attention of the unbelieving world. Jesus said, “They will know that you belong to me by the way you love one another.”


A cup of cold water in Jesus’ name is a powerful witness. It is so powerful today because it is so rare. People just don’t serve today, especially people that they don’t know.

A few years ago I heard the testimony of Christian comedian Mike Williams. Mike’s mother tried to give him away to the mailman. Every day the mailman would deliver the mail and say, “Here’s your mail. Have a nice day and remember God loves you” That “cup of cold water” led to Mike being adopted by the mailman’s daughter who had multiple sclerosis and her husband who was a Baptist Sunday School teacher. Mike says that his parents were so strict that the Amish people thought they needed to lighten up. He says that his parents didn’t even play Old Maid because a church member could be driving in front of their house at 55 miles per hour, look through a crack in the shades, see them playing Old Maid and be so upset because everyone knows that playing cards leads to premarital dancing. You can go to to hear Mike tell his story. But Mike Williams is a great minister of the Gospel today because of a cup of cold water shared by his mailman.

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