Summary: Sometimes the best way to understand how to be a productive Christian is to look at the formula for spiritual worthlessness and do the opposite.
How To Minimize Your Influence for God
1. Facebook is big. And the computers they have are many.
2. “With 900 million members worldwide and growing, Facebook is building its first European data storage facility—60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden. The reason: natural air conditioning. Some Internet “server farms” spend as much to cool the machines as power them. Facebook’s Nordic operation—which will eventually expand to three 290,000- square-foot buildings, each housing tens of thousands of servers—will save millions of dollars on electricity. Plus, the buildings are designed to capture some heat from the servers and use it to warm employee offices. The estimated cost of building the facilities is more than $700 million. Sweden hopes that construction subsidies and other incentives, including the promise of clean hydropower, will attract more digital companies to a region now being marketed as the ‘Node Pole.’” [source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com]
3. They looked at a problem from a different angle. So can we.
Main Idea: Sometimes the best way to understand how to be a productive Christian is to look at the formula for spiritual worthlessness and do the opposite.
I. Receive God’s Grace in VAIN (1-2)
A. You can receive God’s grace and be a GOOF off (1)
1. Paul’s appeal deserved attention; he was working with God Sunergountev
2. He appeals not as someone who is watching ministry, but doing it
3. To receive the grace of God in vain is to be saved, but to be a pew potato, a Christian on Sunday morning only, maintaining an obliviousness and ignorance to the things of God, never seeking to share Jesus, not maturing
I Corinthians 15:10, But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
Douglas Kutilek shares this experience:
Some months ago, I taught a two-week course in a Bible college in Boston. …one student seemed to think that little more than a lick and a promise would be sufficient. Poor effort (not lack of ability) on tests and written assignments led to a failing grade… weeks of time and tuition money were squandered due to inadequate devotion to the task at hand … success requires more than just “showing up…”
B. If you have good intentions, PROCRASTINATE (2-3)
1. Many people who receive the grace of God in vain intend to get on the ball, someday; Paul quotes Isaiah to say, “NOW is the acceptable time.”
2. Ecclesiastes 11:4, “He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.”
3. If you wait for the perfect time, it won’t happen.
4. People who get things done in other realms sometimes procrastinate in the spiritual; they really don’t believe spiritual things are that important…
5. Spiritual procrastinators will read through their Bible sometime. They will volunteer to help with ministry someday. They will mingle and get to know other Christians in the church down the road. They will prioritize God in their lives one day. They will learn to love others besides family and few friends in the future.
6. Procrastinators often bite off more than they can chew; organization and spiritual efficiency are nibbles. You develop good routines, but not overly aggressive ones. That’s why I wrote daily prayers for our web site. Bible Reader 2012 and Max. Ministries. Christian radio. Provide structure.
II. IGNORE the Example of True Servants and Follow Others (3-10)
A. Paul paid a big PRICE to serve the Lord in actual life
1. You would think his great service and sacrifice would buy him clout
2. Paul’s list includes two types of credentials: integrity of character credentials, and gritty in-your-face dedication
3. But the Corinthians had a different value system; they were into personality cults, “super apostles,” and showy gifts.
4. Christians can be so ridiculous that even Paul can’t get no respect.
B. Faithfulness and ENDURANCE are important credentials
1. Many Christian leaders can preach well, or sing well, or pray well, or write well – but that does not mean they are faithful or even godly.
2. Don’t be drawn to the glitzy
3. Don’t be drawn to the gifted; the Corinthians were very gifted spiritually, but horribly immature; giftedness and the qualities of faith, hope & love not same
Application: Deeper issue is, “Do we distinguish substance from image?” If someone resonates with one of your emotional chords, you might abandon discernment
III. Close Your HEARTS to Your Leaders (11)
Illustration: Kids in alley, bouncing a rubber ball off the garage. Not the same as a baseball game. But this is how some Christians operate: loners, not socially connected. The Christian life is a team sport. We are playing the game, not garage door stuff. The relationship of the team to coaches is important: winning and losing