SERVICE: The Value of Values Sermon
Sermon for 11-04-18 The Value of Values : SERVICE – Harbor Church
Philippians 2 Christian Unity and Christ’s Humility
2:1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, 2:2 complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. 2:3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. 2:4 Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. 2:5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,
2:6 who though he existed in the form of God
did not regard equality with God
as something to be grasped,
2:7 but emptied himself
by taking on the form of a slave,
by looking like other men,
and by sharing in human nature.
2:8 He humbled himself,
by becoming obedient to the point of death
—even death on a cross!
2:9 As a result God exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
2:10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow
—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—
2:11 and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of God the Father.
Romans 12:1-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Dedicated Service
12 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, [a]acceptable to God, which is your [b]spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this [c]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may [d]prove what the will of God is, that which is good and [e]acceptable and perfect.
3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, [f]according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if [g]service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with [h]liberality; he who [i]leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
A number of years ago I was visiting a friend at his home. As he left the living room, His wife asked him to get him a drink while he was up, to which he responded with marked distain in his voice, “What am I, your servant?!” I found this shocking, because I realized that he had a very different view from mine of what it meant to be a servant. So let’s talk for a little while about the value of serving, or servanthood as we understand it Biblically. Hopefully, we can shed some light on what a tremendously positive thing service to others can be as an expression of our spirituality and of our love for God and our neighbors.
There are a few words in the New Testament that are used for serving.
Slave. The first word used is one that is sugar-coated in most modern translations. It is more literally understood as slave or bondservant. In a culture where slavery was still common accepted practice, and without our modern understanding of slavery as oppression and injustice , everyone knew what this meant- A slave was someone who worked with unquestioned obedience and loyalty to one’s master. In his 2nd letter the apostle Peter begins with the salutation: “From Simon Peter a slave of Jesus Christ”, and later on in the same epistle he says, 16 you are free, yet you are God’s slaves”. Free, yet slaves? Maybe he meant that even though we are commanded or exhorted to be servants, we don’t do so as an obligation or because it is required of us, but rather as an expression of fidelity in our relationship to our Lord Jesus Christ. This is illustrated by the example of Jesus in our first reading 6 who though he existed in the form of God [because of his divine prerogatives was under no compulsion or obligation to serve humankind. However, we read
[he]did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, 2:7 but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave”
He is the one who freely went to the cross for our sake, who washed the disciple’s feet, and who told them that whoever wanted to be truly great among them must first become a servant. The NT presents servanthood in the sense of ministry or service as a mark of the whole church—that is, as normative behavior for all disciples (Mt 20:26–28; Lk 22:26, 27). Jesus’ teaching on the final judgment equates ministry or acts of service with feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned (Mt 25:31–46). The entire NT emphasizes compassionate care for individuals’ physical and spiritual needs as well as the giving of one’s self to meeting those needs. Such service is ultimately a ministry to Christ himself (Mt 25:45). AND Our reading from Romans says that service is actually a form of worship!
Laborer. The second word was originally in classical Greek to describe to word for a reward,. Like a tradesman would bill for services rendered and expect payment for work done. Paradoxically, the word is used in the language of the New testament quite differently It means “to serve,” with no thought of reward or compensation.
Not for all the money in the world
A well to do woman was on a safari in Africa. The group she was with stopped briefly at a hospital for lepers. The heat was intense, the flies were buzzing. She noticed a nurse bending down in the dirt, dressing the open sores of one of the ill. With obvious scorn in her voice, she exclaimed, “Ugh! I wouldn’t do that for all the money in the world!” The nurse quietly replied, “Neither would I.”
Deacon. Third word used for servant is the one from which we get the English word Deacon. In many modern church traditions, the role of Deacon is one of leadership, especially through acts of sympathy and service. This office finds its origins inThe b ook of Acts chapter 6, describes a problem in the early Jerusalem church concerning the daily serving of food (διακονία, diakonia) to widows. At the apostles’ direction, the congregation selected several people to respond to this need. In appointing these people to oversee the distribution of food they were quite literally told to “wait on tables”
Waiters & Waitresses. No one who has lived on the island for any length of time has any question about how hard these people work. In our first month here we were served lunch at Mohegan by a delightful young lady, who we met again a week later when she served us dinner at the BeachHead! Waitstaff work to meet one of our fundamental physiological needs; they serve us the food that sustains our very lives. And so it is with the church. We are called in some ways to meet these same basic needs. Feeding the hungry, providing warm clothing those who are cold, and housing the homeless are all central to this idea. AND ministering to physical needs can minister them emotionally and spiritually as well. Giving a person a cold cup of water on a hot day can not only slake their thirst, but also lift their mood and raise their spirits. And providing affordable housing for someone in Jesus name can also prompt them to seek the God who motivates us to make such accommodations available to them. It is all connected. So lets not wait to wait on others.
As a teenager, author Richard Foster spent a summer among the Eskimo people of Kotzebue, Alaska. It impressed Richard that the Eskimo Christians have "a deep sense of the wholeness of life. Richard went to Alaska on the adventure of helping to "build the first high school above the Arctic Circle." The work, however, was far from an adventure. It was hard, often backbreaking.
One day he was trying to dig a trench for a building foundation, which was no easy task in the frozen tundra. An Eskimo man, whose face and hands displayed the leathery toughness of many winters, came by and watched him for a while. After some time passed the man spoke simply and profoundly. "You are digging a ditch to the glory of God," he said.
The words stuck with Richard. Beyond his Eskimo friend, no human being ever knew or cared whether he dug that ditch well or poorly. In time that ditch would be covered up and forgotten. But because of that man's words, Richard says, "I dug with all my might, for every shovelful of dirt was an offering to God." Richard made the discovery that everything we do, whether great or small, we do for the glory of God.(1)
All of our lives belong to God. Every task we do is for His glory. There are no neat little compartments in life marked "secular" and "sacred." It all belongs to Him. If we would be changed on the inside, we will not conform to the spirit of this age. We will offer our entire lives to the Lord’s service.
BUT- We can’t all wait on tables!
In the New Testament, the idea of “serving at table” is expanded to encompass “the service of the saints” (1 Cor. 16:15). Paul regarded everything, from the collection of money for the church in Jerusalem, to preaching and teaching as a “service” (2 Cor. 8:4; 9:11–13).
From our reading today:
4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.
Each of us is different, unique, and our service to others is best given as an expression of our individuality:
Some of us have strong backs,
Some of us having listening ears,
Some of us have helping hands, and
Some of us serve others more with our minds and our mouths.
JUST ONE THING from the Movie City Slickers
City Slicker asks crusty old Cow Poke, Curly, why he seems so content, what is his secret. Curly replies, The secret to life is just ONE THING. What is that one thing Billy Crystal asks.
Curly’s answer: Well, that’s something you just have to find out for yourself.
We each have one or two things that we can do for the glory of God and the good of others, something that we are uniquely equipped and designed for, based on our personality, gifts and experience. What is your one thing?
The Legend of the Fisher King
Have you heard the legend of the Fisher King? When the Fisher King was a boy, he was sent out to spend the night alone in the forest, as a test of his courage to be king. During the night, he had a vision of the Holy Grail - the cup used by our Lord at the last supper. He saw it surrounded by great flames of fire, and he immediately became excited by the prospect of the wealth and glory that would be his by possessing such a great prize. Greedily, he reached into the flames to grab it, but the flames were too hot, and he was severely wounded.
As the years went by, the Fisher King became more despondent and alone, and his wound grew deeper. One day, feeling sad and depressed and in pain, he went for a walk in the forest and came upon a court jester.
"Are you all right?" the jester asked. "Is there anything I can do for you? Anything at all?"
"Well, I am very thirsty," the Fisher King replied. The jester took an old dilapidated cup from his bag, filled it with water from a nearby stream, and gave it to the Fisher King. As he drank, he suddenly felt his wound healing for the first time. And incredibly, the old cup he was drinking from had turned into the Holy Grail.
"What wonderful magic do you possess?" the Fisher King asked the jester.
The jester just shrugged and said, "I know no magic. I only gave a drink of water to a thirsty soul."
The magic of serving others is no magic at all. It is simply be willing and available to be a blessing to others as a servant, to do the labor that we believe God calls us to , and to find one or two specific things that we can do better than most others, then to do them selflessly for others. Brothers and Sisters, lets make this our own quest for the Holy Grail, to practice the value of servanthood in every aspect and area of our lives, Let’s put on our aprons, and wait on others, Amen.