Sermons

Summary: Paul says this is what Christian leaders are to be. They are not to be people who get captured by the culture, or by circumstances. They are to be people who are stable and consistent in their commitments regardless of changes in life.

As I read Barbara Shields book Winners-Women And The Nobel

Prize, I was so impressed by the life and leadership of Agnes

Gunxha, better known as Mother Teresa. As I read of her life and

ministry I kept seeing her fulfilling the requirements that Paul lays

down for one to be an elder, or leader, in the church. We see such

words as blameless, not overbearing, not quick tempered, not given

to much wine, not violent, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

That is a lot of nots that are not to be, but Paul does not stop

with the negative, but goes on to add these positives: Be hospitable,

love what is good, be self-controlled, be upright, be holy, be

disciplined, hold firm to the truth, and encourage others. The ideal

Christian life is one of balance with much that is popular in the

world to be excluded, and much that is unpopular to be included.

Negatives and positives in balance is what the Christian life is all

about. I was impressed at how a nun could achieve this balance.

She had been in a convent for 20 years, but at age 38 she launched a

new ministry to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. The filth

and ugliness, and the daily death of babies and others starving was

beyond description.

For months she worked alone. She would gather children

between a hut and teach them the alphabet by writing with a stick

on the ground. She had no money, for she had taken a vow of

poverty. Some people became aware of what she was doing and

gave her a little money and some bars of soap. These children had

never seen a bar of soap. She taught them how to clean themselves,

and she told them of the love of God. She had to beg for medicine to

give to these people. Other women joined her. They would rise at

4:30 A. M. to worship and have a balanced breakfast. Mother

Teresa was strong on having a good diet for health and strength to

do the demanding work they were doing.

Their labor was all in vain she taught if it was not done in joy.

Cheerfulness and love did more for people than food and medicine

she taught, and so all her helpers had to join in the evening fun time

where they would laugh and shout, and play games and sing. It was

hard work, and it was often depressing, and so they needed this for

balance. They lived in poverty like the people to whom they

ministered. They would rescue abandoned and dying babies left in

trash bins. Mother Teresa had a vast collection of photos of her

children that had been adopted from her home to families around

the world. She built the Town of Peace with the help of the Indian

government. This is a town where lepers are treated, and where

they learn a trade, and live a normal life.

We can't begin to describe all of her work among the world's

poorest, and most rejected population. She touched so many lives

and received an avalanche of awards from all over the world. Vast

amounts of money were involved, and all of it went to building more

ministry to the poor. She lived in a small room with no symbols of

affluence. She could pack to move in about 10 minutes. Young men

began to join her Missionaries of Charity, as they were called, and

whole new ministries were started for men and boys in the slums.

So many around the world began to contribute to her cause that she

expanded and opened homes in most of the large cities in the world

from New York to Tokyo.

What she learned is that the greatest hunger in the world is not

for bread but for love. It is poverty of the spirit that is the heaviest

burden to bear, and even rich people suffer this kind of poverty. In

December of 1979 she flew from Calcutta to Oslo, Norway to receive

the Nobel Peace Prize. It was the tradition to have a great banquet

in the honor of the recipient of this great prize. She begged the

committee to forget the banquet and give her the money. This added

7 thousand dollars to the 190 thousand dollar prize. She used it all

to build homes for the poor and the lepers. That year she opened 14

centers outside of India. She has over 100 centers in operation with7

thousand people a day being fed in Calcutta alone.

The stories of her love and care for those rejected by the world

are endless. I share this description of her life and ministry because

it exhibits what Paul is getting at as he lists the requirements for

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