Summary: The two men Paul introduces us to in this text demonstrate two qualities of people who live together in service.
2002-07 G-4 M-1 (86-76)
LIVING TOGETHER IN SERVICE
A. Have you been playing it safe as a Christian? – illustration:
A Georgia farmer, ragged and bare-footed, was standing on the steps of his tumbledown shack. A stranger stopped for a drink of water. "How is your cotton coming along?" he asked. "Ain’t got none," replied the farmer. "Did you plant any?" asked the stranger. "Nope," was the reply, "afraid of bollweevils."
"Well," continued the stranger, "how is your corn?" "Didn’t plant none," came the answer, "’fraid there weren’t going to be no rain."
The visitor persevered: "Well, how are your potatoes?" "Ain’t got none. Scairt of potato bugs."
"Really, what did you plant?" pressed the stranger. "Nothin’," was the calm reply, "I jest played safe."
B. Paul calls for us in this text to be servants who do not play it safe by giving us two examples of men who did serve with risk.
1. He has shown us the kind of servant Jesus was in vss. 5-11 and then showed us in vss. 12-18 how that kind of servant obeys God.
2. It is as if he were asking us to follow a want ad like this in the paper. What would you do if you read this in the paper’s want ads? – Want Ad for Disciples.
WANTED: DISCIPLES. Hours will be 168 per week. Pay is zero. No experience required, but toughness and resiliency helpful. No retirement provided in this life, but unlimited benefits in the next. Working conditions are not the best. There are hassles, discrimination, put-downs, and even persecutions. In this job, it’s mostly give and no take. There are few breaks, no vacations, no sick leave, no material bonuses, few, if any, compliments, and only one promotion which comes at the end of your life.
Applicants must be willing to sacrifice, study long, pray hard, labor unceasingly, and must be willing to be called a "fool" for Christ’s sake. The job is not easy. You will often work alone, but you’ll never be alone. People in this line of work are in a minority. Applicants must be willing to share their testimony in crowds that are both sympathetic and antagonistic, both understanding and prejudiced. Applicants must realize that identification with our organization makes them unpopular with the majority. Applicants must be prepared to live anyplace on earth. All applicants are required to understand before they sign up that they must relinquish all rights, legal or otherwise to all personal property such as cars, houses, real estate, money, recreational vehicles, stocks, IRA accounts, in fact EVERYTHING.
Applicants are urged to consider strongly their decision to come on board since our policy is that there is no getting out once in! Our policy is clear, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God." Though this position is hazardous, there are great rewards and satisfaction to the work. We believe that "in due season we shall reap if we don’t faint."
Those interested may apply at the foot of the cross. There is no legal age limitation and whosoever will may come.
3. As Paul places this challenge before us he recognizes that we might respond by saying it is impossible to follow an example such as Christ or to live up to the standards Paul has listed for us.
4. For this reason, Paul now introduces us to two ordinary Christians, men who were simply trying to live like Christ. He presents them to us as examples of men who lived in the church as servants, to suggest that we can be servants who live up to God’s standards.
The two men Paul introduces us to in this text demonstrate two qualities of people who live together in service.
LIVING TOGETHER IN SERVICE MEANS...
I. ...LOOKING OUT FOR OTHER’S WELFARE – Vss. 19-24.
A. How we often look out for ourselves instead of others – illustration:
Elizabeth Ashley, the British actress who was born in North Florida, was asked if she lived in America or abroad. She said, "The only time I spend in America is when I am working. I live on a sailboat. I live as far away from civilization and progress as you can get. I’m basically nomadic. I live on airplanes, in the ocean, and in the occasional pit stop, you know. I catch civilization and progress the way other people catch the flu. I’m very much a loner. I require a lot of solitude and a lot of isolation."
B. Timothy looked out for the welfare of others.
1. Paul was planning to send Timothy to Philippi. He gives us his reasons for doing so.
a. He sent him "in the Lord." In fact that was how Paul did everything, and it should be how we do everything.