Summary: Discover the joys and demands of giving our hearts in service to others.
Someone has said “There are two kinds of people: givers and takers; the takers eat better but the givers sleep better.” How are you sleeping at night? In my last church there was a young man named Chris who gave a testimony one Sunday. In his testimony he said “All my life I have been a taker. From now on I am going to be a giver.” The last I heard he was teaching a Bible study class and serving as chairman of deacons. He became a giver.
I want to show you a picture of a man who was a giver. His story will give you guidance in this important and life changing decision. “We weren’t aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.” (I Th. 2:7-8 NLT) This is taken from the New Living Translation. Notice the last phrase in verse 8. Paul said “We wanted to give you our hearts.” That is awesome! Here is a man who wanted to share his heart with other people. This is God’s plan for life. He created us to share our hearts with other people, in service to Him. He wants us to be a giver. Jesus said “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will save it” Lk. 10:39 TLB)
There are three barriers that will keep us from serving others.
1. Sin causes us to hold back. We become concerned with looking out for number 1.
2. The circumstances of life will cause us to hold back. Sometimes job pressure, family circumstances, or our economic situation can keep us from sharing with others.
3. Satan will cause us to hold back. Jesus said “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I am come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” Jn. 10:10 Satan will try to keep you from being a giver.
Our first step in becoming a giver will be facing the personal barriers that are holding us back. Begin there today!
As you examine your heart I want to lead you to learn from Paul. What are the indicators that Paul gave away his heart? These same indicators should be present in our lives.
1. To give away our heart we must see the needs of others. Notice verses 6-7. “We might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” Paul was like the General Patton of the Christian faith. He was a get in your face kind of person. He had every right to expect those people to support him, but he was not demanding. He was gentle. The opposite of gentle is demanding, impatient, or forceful. Gentle is a word that goes against the grain of our culture. We use words like take charge, conquer, and defeat. Can you imagine a football coach talking to his team at half time? As he speaks he wants to motivate those players. He wants to win the game. What do you think his team would think if he said “Guys, be gentle in the second half.” He says things like, “take charge”, “dominate”, “get in their face”, and “show them who is number 1.” In this passage Paul says he was gentle. Why did he say that? He was sensitive to the needs of the people in that church. He knew that if he got in their face he would discourage them. It was his desire to represent Jesus. Therefore, he suppressed his natural bent and exercised the fruit of the spirit. He was gentle. He knew that if he was demanding he would break the spirit of those young believers. It was his desire to meet their needs.
Illustration: We have a tendency to give people what they deserve rather than what they need. There is a good example of this in our society. In recent years there has been an explosion of ADD cases. This malady has probably always been present. However, we have given it a name. When a young person has ADD we tend to give them what we think they need. Unfortunately we usually begin with the heavy hand of discipline. What they deserve and what they need are two different things. They might need discipline but more importantly they need understanding.
Jesus had the special ability to see the needs of others. His vision caused him to display a gentle nature as he responded to those in need. You see this in his response to the lady at the well (John 4). You see this in his response to the lady who committed adultery (John 8). You see this in his response to Zacchaeus (Luke 19).