Summary: Discover the truest meaning of a New Testament slave in this topical message about serving the Lord.
[SHOW VIDEO OF CHURCH MEMBERS SERVING IN DIFFERENT WAYS]
How inspiring to see so many of you serving each other in our church and in our community – and thus serving God! And that is our focus today – serving. So today, I want us to look at what it means to serve together. So take out your Bible, your teaching tool and a pen, and let’s look at talk for a few minutes about “Serving Together.” Actually, the title of the message on your teaching tool is incorrect…it should read “Slaving Together.” Slaving Together? That’s right – that would be a much more biblical way to talk about serving.
That’s right – “slavery” is the primary word used to talk about service or ministry in the Bible. In fact, let me bring you up to speed on our most biblical title: “doulos!” That’s right…you’re a doulos! Simply a slave. Feel better now, don’t you?
• Paul calls himself this every time, along with Timothy
• Used 25 times in the verb form (5x more than ministering “officially”)
• 125 times in the noun form (the predominant noun for the NT church worker/servant)
One of the places this word shines is Galatians 5:13. Turn there, would you?
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”
There it is – our identification and our occupation! We are slaves, and we humbly submit to slaving away together for one another in a sprit of love.
A little background would be helpful here…
• The OT picture of the bond slave (doulos) – serves by choice in his/her 7th year.
• The NY picture of freedom: We don’t have to, we get to!
The point? We are slaves to Christ by choice for the good of others!
I’d like to show you examples of “slaves” in the Bible – let’s profile what a slave actually looks like, how they think, what they do, shall we? Let’s get a glimpse into how we can serve God and each other better.
1. Slaves know that serving God is one of the best ways to witness. (1 Thess. 1:8-10)
“The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
What a testimony – many folks in that region knew they had turned to Christ and were serving God. What a witness to the people who were watching.
Perhaps your first question is, “How do I serve God?” Answer: By serving his kids! You see, you really can’t serve God directly because you’re not in heaven yet. But you can serve his kids! Remember Matthew 35:39? When folks were wondering how the had ministered to the lord, he said, “When you did it unto one of these, you did it unto me.”
This is why we are really encouraging you to get involved in your community and meet needs – it’s one of the best ways to witness for the Lord and his church.
For instance, this past week was Halloween, and here in or community on Beggar’s Night some moms were serving hot chocolate to the families out with their kids, one of my friends was serving hot dogs to people, and a LH collected canned goods for people in transition. In addition, one of our small groups collected clothing for T.A.K.E. Thanks to all of you!
When you serve, you are witnessing. So no more excuses like, “I can’t say anything.” Can you serve someone? Then you can witness!
Action Point: Find a need and meet it in the name of Christ.
2. Slaves know that serving God is not a position but a privilege. (1 Corinthians 9:19)
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.”
Paul was explaining that he had the right to the position, but that wasn’t what really motivated him. What really tripped his trigger was the freedom he had to preach the Gospel, the compulsion he sensed to share God’s story regardless of how people treated him. He saw that role as a privilege, not a position.
In fact, my job as your pastor is, in some ways, different than my service as a Christian. I’m a doulos, but at times also a ‘presbuteros’ or ‘liturgos.’ But know this – I’m more than the last two. And if all I had was a position to go on, it’d be a dry church with a stiff membership. Of course, you’ve all known business-like churches with ‘position preachers’ – “I work 9-2, and don’t call me after hours.” They have given us a bad name!