Summary: Serving the body of believers is a primary function and responsibility of every believer. Here at 3 reasons to serve.
OIntroduction: For the past three weeks we have been learning about our core values: unity of faith, evangelism, discipleship, and finally today we confront our forth core value: service.
I. Serving is Essential for the Function of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:7)
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”
The Apostle Paul is writing the book of 1 Corinthians to a group of believers in Corinth. He speaks here in chapter twelve about many of the gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit. From verse seven we learn two things: 1. the gifts which are given to the believer comes directly from the Living God Himself. Whether it is the gift of knowledge, discernment, faith, prophecy, healing, serving, or any of the others listed here, it was given by God to the individual. 2. The gift was given for it to be used in edification and the building of the church – “for the profit of all.” If I am given the gift of preaching (exhortation) but do not preach, what good is the gift? If you are given the gift of leadership but you only follow rather than charge ahead in the work of the Kingdom, what good is it for the Lord? Similarly, if you are given the gift of serving, yet do not serve the Lord and your fellow Christians, what good is the gift you have received from God?
As we learn from the words of Paul, each Christian has at least one spiritual gift. That means that each of us has something that the Lord Himself specifically designed and gave to us to use for His glory. Is it not an awesome thought knowing that God wants and expects to use you in His plan for the function of the Church?
Using the gifts God has given you is serving Him and others. Serving the Church (the body of believers, not just the building and our programs) is to be done by all Christians, not just those with the specific gift of serving. Ephesians 4:12 specifically says the gifts are “…for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” Whether we are given the gift of giving or not, we are still required and expected to give; giving of the church’s financial resources is to be done by the entire body of believers. Similarly, serving, the application of our God-given spiritual gifts, is expected from all Christians.
Illustration: The human body is made up of so many parts: skeletal, cardiovascular, neurological, digestive, etc., yet each part serves its function to and within the body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us have been gifted to preach, minister, give, heal, lead, be merciful and hospitable, or have faith. The body of Christ, the Church, has many different parts but we are all one in the Lord (Ephesians 4:5-6). If the spleen were to decide to stop working because it is not the spine and therefore thought it was not an important part of the body, the person would suffer greatly. If the cerebral cortex decided it was not an important part of the body because it is not the heart, again, the person would have extremely serious issues. So it is with us as the Church when we think that we are not an important part of its functioning and when we are not using the gifts God has given us.
II. Serving is Done in a Variety of Ways (Matthew 25:37-40)
“37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”
Here in Matthew 25, Matthew records the words of Jesus as He displays many opportunities to serve Him by serving others. Often people think serving requires displacing themselves from their comfort zone for days on end so that they can “serve” those who are experiencing hard times. Yes, that is one way to serve, and we here at Bethel have done a tremendous job serving those whose lives have been turned upside down by natural disasters. In the past fifteen months representatives from our church have participated in eight one-week long service projects rebuilding the homes of those destroyed in March, 2012, by a devastating tornado in Henryville, Indiana. Also, in the past eighteen months, we have commissioned and sent parishioners to the gulf coast of Alabama and Louisiana where families are still rebuilding from recent hurricanes. On the international mission field, we support the Love in Action Center, an orphanage in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico. In fact, one of our members spends five months per year serving in the orphanage. I am confident we have glorified the Lord and His kingdom by obeying and following His lead to serve others in these capacities. As your pastor and brother in Christ, I am so proud of each of you who have served; you have represented our church well, but most importantly, you have represented Christ, proclaimed Him, and made Him known!