My apologies, but I mistakenly deleted the previous version of this Podcast...
66. Partake - The Christian Disciple and Serving (Re Record – dodgy voice)
Paul writing in Romans 12v4-5: “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”
As Christian Disciples, we are called to a life of serving God and other people. We are not alone, but part of a larger body where each member is called to perform a serving function. By serving others as Christian Disciples, it shows unity and solidarity to those outside of the church who frequently accuse the church of infighting and “devouring one another”.
The Christian life is not to be static or inactive. The Christian life is to be dynamic and active. The word servant is key in Scripture. It is used at least 500 times in its various derivations. When a Christian Disciple serves, God’s honour is released. This is done because service shows the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ to those being served and to those watching. That is to be our motive for service. Serving is never to be about what the Christian Disciple can get out of it. When that is the motive, God is not glorified. God’s glory and supremacy is the goal of a Christian Disciple’s life. Spiritual growth comes from serving rather than being served. This is because what ever is given in service of God and others, faith grows and Jesus Christ gives back even more. Jesus speaking in Matthew 25v15-30 tells of the rewards for faithful service and the penalties for being faithless. Serving others is a sign that the Christian Disciple is trusting God and having faith in God. Serving God and others is the mark of a spiritually mature Christian Disciple and through service, we reflect the greatest servant of all, Jesus Christ, who came to serve and give his very life for others (Mark 10v45). As Christian Disciples we are to be as Jesus Christ (Romans 8v28; Philippians 2v5) and to serve. Yet if we are honest, we sometimes feel incapable, just as Moses did (Exodus 3). An excellent example to follow is that of Stephen in the Book of Acts.
In serving others, we fulfil the command that Jesus gave to love God and love others. Showing love and serving each other through our Spiritual Gifts and our giving achieves this aim of obedience to Jesus.
The reason that the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to Christian Disciples is so that the body of Christ is built up (Ephesians 4v12), for the common good of the church (1 Corinthians 12v7, 14v12) and “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4v12). These three reasons signify that God wants Christian Disciples to be active in service and not still like stagnant water. That is why we have been given gifts and if these gifts are not used for God’s purposes, then they are utterly useless and meaningless.
As Christian Disciples, we are dependent upon each other, just as one part of the human body has dependence on another part. That is why we serve each other and use the gifts generously given by God. As all Christian Disciples have gifts, we have a responsibility to discover and develop them (1 Timothy 4v14)! God has called Christian Disciples and equipped them with spiritual gifts, and they are not to be neglected!
As we are not to neglect our gifts, or let other Christian Disciples neglect their gifts, we are to fan the gift into flame (2 Timothy1v6). Much like blowing on embers and stirring them up will restart the flames of a fire! To do this Christian Disciples are to employ the gift faithfully and by asking God to continue their development, strengthening and for the opportunities to use them! Seek gifts that build up others, commands Paul (1 Corinthians 14v1-12). Ask God faithfully for gifts that give opportunity for service to God and others!
Every person has in differing quantities time, possessions and money. These things in and of themselves are not evil. The whole Christian community is one that is to reflect the Holy Trinity. The Church is to be a community where the strongest members support the weakest members. This applies not only to the local church, but also to the universal Church and therefore has a national and international context as well. Too often as Christian Disciples we are found turning a blind eye to the suffering of others where the bare necessities of life are in sparse existence. Too often we gather possessions and people, instead of giving up our time and money generously to help the poor and needy of both our world and local communities.
Perhaps the greatest indicator of spiritual grown in the Christian Disciple concerns their financial giving. Paul writing to the Corinthians commands that giving be done whole-heartedly and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9v7). For the Christian Disciple, its not so much how much is given, but how much is left after giving. God looks beyond the amount that is given to the motive behind the giving. All our money and possessions belong to God anyway, so giving is to be in response to this. Giving is to be done out of love for God. Paul offers in 1 Corinthians 16v2 a three-point system for giving: regularly, methodically and proportionately.
Failure to give back to God’s work what He has given the Christian Disciple in the first place, robs God (Malachi 3v8). The reason it robs is because the giving cannot be used to support those who are working for God. As a result of giving, the Christian Disciple will be blessed (Malachi 3v10) and have their needs satisfied (Philippians 4v19).
For more to think about please do read 2 Corinthians 9v6-8. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. Do I need to change my motivation for serving in any key area of my Christian Discipleship?
Q2. How can I serve others more?
Q3. When was the last time I reappraised my giving of money, possessions and time?
As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.