21th Sunday after Pentecost“Improving Your Serve : Together”
Romans 12.3–8 (NLT)
3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
• “Improving Your Serve,” week 3. We’ve talked about humility and washing the feet of the world. We’ve talked about movement and acting on the things that move our hearts and crossing boundaries to meet the needs of any and all who need help. Today we look at what happens when gifts come together and the body moves as one.
• When I was about 8 years old, my grandfather gave me my first pocket knife. He was proud to give it to me but he was cautious, too. The knife came with a warning. Anybody know what that warning was? DON’T CUT YOURSELF! But more than that, I remember him telling me, “Whatever you do, don’t cut toward yourself.” Hmm.
• Well, not long after that my dad and I went deer hunting. He sat up in the stand and I sat at the bottom of the ladder, surrounded by brush as a blind. It wasn’t long before I got bored and I found me a few sticks. I had decided I was going to whittle. So I took out my fancy, shiny, VERY sharp new Double Eagle lock-blade pocket knife and started showing those sticks who was boss. I had worked a particular stick over pretty well but there was this one pesky knot. I just couldn’t get the right angle so I turned the knife around with the blade facing me and tried to slice the knot off from the other direction. Before I knew it I had sliced through my left thumb’s knuckle and gone slightly into the bone.
• I screamed, I bled, I jumped up, and dad came flying down the ladder. He saw the horrible scene, picked me up in his arms and trucked through the broom straw field, down the ridge, into the creek bed and up the big hill through the hardwoods to the house. He cleaned the wound, wrapped it tight, took two popsicle sticks and used them as splints, all held together with a scary amount of masking tape.
• After I recovered from the shock and excitement, I tried to function but I couldn’t. If I sat down, it hurt. If I laid down, it hurt. If I went and walked it off, it still hurt. Really, it didn’t matter what I tried to do, it hurt so bad. That ridiculous cut affected my whole being. Can anyone in here raise their hand and confess to the fact that a stubbed toe, spilt coffee, or an argument with someone has ever just thrown everything off?
• The point is that we need each other. We need each other working well and working together. When one of us hurts, all of us hurts. It’s hard to function when someone’s down for the count or missing in action. We need each other and we need to stay together.
• Think back to the saving moment in my childhood story, when my dad was there to do what I couldn’t. I was frozen in horror and pain. My dad used his gifts to see me through. He picked me up and he carried me, he took me through the fields and woods because he knew where he was going. He bandaged me up and helped make me well.
• The body of Christ—the Church—works the same way. We’re one body with many parts. We use our gifts to serve the will of God in the world. We hurt when someone else hurts. We rejoice when someone else rejoices. We’re in it together. When we use our gifts well, we help more than just the world, we help each other. We witness to one another when we exercise faith. We encourage one another when we exercising healing. We teach one another when we blaze new trails and set our face toward new horizons.
• But this only happens if we work as one. Working together means being together. It means showing up in good numbers for missions and outreach. It means widening our hearts and helping in more and even different places in the church than we usually do. It means giving more in our tithes and offerings than we originally thought because we know God honors the sacrifice and commitment to ministry. All of this, if done together, is the beginning of real, noticeable, impact in our community.
• We have to move beyond a few people here and a few people there. It takes all of us, it takes the whole church and its beautiful faith to move the mountains that are obstacles in our marriages, our families, and our schools. What would it look like if we were committed, really committed to working together and being present through all the trials and all the problems?
• I invite you to find out. I DARE you to find out. I want to see people take their faith seriously. Not for my sake, but for your own sake, for your soul’s sake, for your children’s sake, as we try to raise up generations that will overcome fear with faith. We need our children to be raised knowing how God desires to empower them through the beautiful spiritual gifts He gives.
• You’re going to have the chance to make some commitments soon. You may get a card or a letter in the mail from Pastor Steve and the Church. We want you to take that very, very seriously. Because that card is a challenge, a challenge from us to you to see if you want this church to truly lead this community toward salvation and a better city. But it starts with you, the Body of Christ.
• Improving our serve means using your gifts together with others to see salvation come to our homes, our schools, and our town. So let us improve our serve, let us improve our service. Let us unleash faith! Let’s pray…