Summary: Spiritual Gifts Series - 8 of 13.
THE GIFT OF HELPFUL SERVICE
INTRO: Recently I came across this question, “Would you do for GOLD what you would do for GOD?” What does this mean? The answer is clear. If you’re not attending prayer services now, would you do so if you were paid for it? Would you witness for Christ more zealously if you were given some monetary compensation for your efforts? Would your contributions to the work of Christ be more generous if such “investments” brought guaranteed financial return? If these questions disturb you because they call for a reluctant “yes,” it is apparent that you’re more willing to do something for gold than for GOD!
Too many church members have the same attitude expressed by a man in his prayer one day: “Lord use me in Your work, especially if You have something available in an advisory capacity!” It seems that everybody wants to be an advisor these days. Churches need to discover the gift of helpful service which many members probably have.
I. A GOOD DEFINITION.
The word (äéáêïíßáí) translated “service” in the NASB and “ministry” in the KJV meant to effectively and joyfully minister to the needs of other people. It is the word from which we get our English word DEACON.
Note that a gift called “helps” is found in 1 Corinthians 12:28. It meant “to lend a hand.” I think Paul meant the same gift in both these passages. As a matter of fact, both words are used by Martha in Luke 10:40 when she spoke to Jesus about Mary not helping her.
ILLUS: A little fellow in the ghetto was teased by one who said, “If God loves you, why doesn’t he take care of you? Why doesn’t God tell someone to bring you shoes and a warm coat and better food?” The little lad thought for a moment then with tears starting in his eyes, said, “I guess He does tell somebody, but somebody forgets.”
II. A GOOD EXAMPLE.
No one ever had a greater attitude about service than did Jesus. He didn’t come to be served but to serve. Nothing was beneath His dignity. He fed the hungry, tended the sick, cooked breakfast, washed feet, and went to the cross.
ILLUS: Robert E. Speer says that several years ago he was being entertained by the president of a small college in the South. The school had limited guest facilities, so the head of the institution offered him his apartment. “I woke up early the next morning,” said Speer, “when I heard someone tiptoe into the room. I lay there quietly with my eyes open just a slit to see who it was.
To my surprise the president of the college walked in, picked up my dirty boots, and walked out. I got out of bed, opened the door a crack, and watched him take them to an adjoining hallway. Then he got down on the floor and began polishing them.
I could have cried at the sight. His hospitality and thoughtfulness showed me what a great man he really was. Some years after that he rose to national prominence. Because of his complete humility of spirit, God elevated him to a higher position.”
III. GOOD USE OF THE GIFT.
The strength of churches depends strongly upon the willingness of people to serve. Do you have the gift? Do you have skills the church could use? How do you feel when you see someone in need? Can you give up prestige and glory to serve others?
ILLUS: When the slow-moving clerk in a small store was not around one morning, a customer asked the owner’s young son, “Where’s Eddie? Is he sick?” “Nope, he ain’t workin’ here no more,” was the reply. “Do you have anyone in mind for the vacancy?” inquired the customer. “Nope! Eddie didn’t leave no vacancy!” We smile, but the statement which characterized Eddie applies equally to many in the church today. In serving Christ they are so weak and colorless that if they left the community their absence would scarcely be noticed.
CONC: I know that all of you were saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our church’s most valuable members — Someone Else. Someone’s passing created a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else has been with us for many years, and for every one of those years, Someone did far more than the normal person’s share of the work. Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results. Someone Else can work with that group.
Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone’s lips, “Let Someone Else do it”. It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the largest givers in the church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed that Someone Else would make up the difference. Someone Else was a wonderful person, sometimes appearing super-human, but a person can only do so much.