We Value Service

Dr. Rob Green November 18, 2018 Ephesians 4:16
Outline

The Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything – you own nothing

2. God has entrusted you with everything you have

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given – he wants you to increase it

4. God can call you into account at any time and it may be today

3 truths that can help us value service

I. Everyone Makes a Very Significant Contribution to the Whole

A. Fitted and held together indicating we are connected to one another

B. What every joint supplies indicating that we have different roles

1. Incorrect mindset 1: I am not a valuable part

1 Corinthians 12:12-19 - For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For aby one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be?

2. Incorrect mindset 2: You are not important

1 Corinthians 12:20-26 - But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

II. Every One of Us Contributes According to the Stewardship Granted to Us

A. Continual emphasis on Christ

Although the church is at the forefront of Paul’s thinking in this passage, Christology has not collapsed into ecclesiology, as some seem to suggest. The lordship of Christ is clearly evident throughout. (Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, Pillar NT Commentary, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999], 317)

B. We always serve for God’s glory

1 Peter 4:10-11 - As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1. Regular weekly service

2. Special events

III. When Everyone Properly Contributes the Whole Body Grows

Thank you Matt and Nadia for sharing with us. Haven’t the testimonies been great? One of the things that we want to communicate in these testimonies is that stewardship is the responsibility and possibility for everyone. Everyone, as we will see in the passage this morning has a very significant part to play in the mission of the church.

Today concludes stewardship month.

  • This morning is our last stewardship message and then this evening we will be together at the Northend Community Center to celebrate the various ways that God has blessed.
  • I hope you will come tonight. If you are trying to decide … please come. You will find the time well worth it.
  • We had a devotional guide that went with stewardship month and each pastor and intern had to contribute 3-4 days worth of daily devotions.
  • Everyone, and I mean everyone, was asked to continue growing in stewardship.
  • This also had a built in implication that it was possible to live life as a good steward or as a poor steward.
    • In Matthew 25 and the parable of the talents only two servants heard “Well done. You are a faithful servant.” The other one was called wicked because he did not wisely use what was available to him. 
  • I have found it particularly helpful to be reminded year after year that we seek, fully dependent on God’s grace, to be a good steward. The testimonies like Matt and Nadia’s remind us that this is a growing process … from nursery ewww … to leading CFE.
  • This year our stewardship sermons focused on The Values of the body of Christ. It is an exposition of Ephesians 4:11-16. In other words, our stewardship is thinking and behaving in the church consistent with Christ’s design.
  • He describes us as “two groups into one” because he tore down the dividing wall (2:14), “one new man” as people who have been reconciled with God and each other so that we are essentially one person, as a “building” where Christ is the cornerstone, the apostles and prophets were the foundation, and we are the remaining portions of the structure, and as one body.
  • We are truly better together.
  • We do not take off our foot and put it with our shoes.
  • Samuel was in his first year of high school wrestling and we love supporting our children in their various events. In the very first meet of the year, the one meet that I was going to miss because I was travelling he was injured.
  • It was a blow to all of us. I could not believe that the only meet I was going to miss the whole year was the only one that he was not hurt.
  • The pain was awful and he was unable to participate further.
  • You might ask … here is a strong young man and of his 170 pounds less than 1 pound was injured.
    • Why would that shut him down?
    • If you had 169 out of 170 in almost everything else you would be a rock star.
    • Yet, in the body that one pound of injury shut down his entire season and impacted every area of his existence.
  • I get it. A night at home by yourself sounds wonderful. Make it in the country and it is even better.
  • This is why you value doctrine. You are bent to see value in less contact with people not more. Doctrine helps you realize that your personality has issues … every personality has issues. Doctrine helps you realize that character must transcend personality. Doctrine helps you see that you are connected.
  • Since the church at Corinth had so many divisions Paul chose to explain this idea in more vivid terms. Please turn to 1 Corinthians 12:12.
    • The divisions were not just over who were the best preacher-teachers.
    • It was also over who had the most prominent service positions and opportunities.
      • If you could speak in tongues, from their perspective, you were a big deal. If you served, then who cares about that.
      • There were a couple of dangerous mindsets that they established. The Lord rebuked them both.
  • Tell that to the parent who is about to drop off a child at the nursery and there is one nursery worker for 12 children.
  • Tell that to the single who is looking to make friends, but the others in their group decided to sleep in and they came by themselves.
  • What we are saying is that your contribution is not very helpful or valuable.
  • We have the preacher for the morning. That is important because the task is to deliver God’s truth to God’s people.
  • We have the worship team. Worship teams might act like no one else should sing because they are awesome or they can lead us in worshipping Christ.
  • Greeters and Ushers … they are part of what makes a church friendly or cold.
  • In singing … there is a difference in how a service feels depending on the participation of the people in it. I value a loud auditorium because it makes my lousy singing less noticeable.
  • Children’s and Youth ministry … without it our service would have a very different environment. Who can forget the children’s ministry videos that Pastor Trey put together where the children were telling us what would happen if there were no teachers.
  • One weekend we were a little short in the cast so there was like one disciple in the boat and he was like 12. One of our boys relished the opportunity to join the boat so he was going from Bethlehem on team A and then the boat on team B. It was cool. HOWEVER, it was a little strange as a guest going through the LN to imagine Jesus rescuing two 12 year olds in boat in the middle of a fierce storm. Mind you … it was a service for those boys … but it was also a moment where all of us could ask whether EVERY joint was supplying its part.
  • When one person suffers everyone suffers
  • When one person is honored everyone is honored
  • First Corinthians was clear; there are eyes and hands and eyes. All are important and all need to do what God gives them to contribute.
  • He (v. 11)
  • Body of Christ (v. 12)
  • Unity and knowledge of the son of God (v. 13)
  • The fullness of Christ (v. 13)
  • Grow up into him … that is Christ (v. 15)
  • We know that we cannot minimize one type of service and maximize a different type of service.
  • We know that when we are honored, we all benefit and when one suffers we all suffer.
  • Here is what happens when we are short. Everyone who serves has to do more.
  • Here is what happens when we are fully staffed … everyone has just the right amount of work.
  • Then, after the LN is over every one of us has the opportunity to talk to neighbors and co-workers and tell them that our church gives the LN as a gift to our community. It provides an opportunity for witness.
  • When people are won to Christ then they become LN servants!
  • There are some holes in that ministry as well, primarily with distribution day. The same things are true … full staff = right amount of work. Light staff = a lot of work for a few people.
  • There are openings to serve, especially at the northend. But serving anywhere allows the leadership team to redeploy others to the right location.
  • This ensures that everyone has a full plate, but not a plate that is too full.
    • We every joint is supplying what it designed to contribute then every joint has the proper workload.
  • Waiting for a lightening bolt revelation will result in more waiting and more importantly … missed opportunities to fulfill what your joint should supply.
  • When the email comes from a key leader respond with yes.
  • I received an email telling me I served in traffic during the LN and I was asked if I would do that again. Sure, right?
  • Pastor Viars mentioned a book called Loving Your Community. The publication of that book will allow the story of Faith to reach a wider audience.
    • As they learn about the ministry here they will send interns to Vision of Hope.
    • They will tell men who are struggling that there is a Restoration program.
    • They will desire additional training and consider what resources are available to help them in their ministries.
    • Some may even decide to try a new ministry in their community as a result.
  • One book produces greater ministry exposure which produces greater opportunities to serve Christ.
  • As a side benefit that single intern who loves Jesus and wants to serve the Lord meets one of your daughters (like the Blakes … both girls married seminary students and are pastor’s wives today). You get a son in law out of the deal.
  • You are teaching him in your interactions and in the lessons and discussion and in hearing his Bible verses.
  • Twenty years later Johnny stands up and gives a testimony in CFN saying that his children’s ministry worker taught him about his need for Christ.
  • But we all understand that our individual contribution, when combined with all the other individual contributions, produces growth in the body.

My first exposure to stewardship month was in 2001.

In my years of stewardship month there are two things that I have especially appreciated.

First, being a good steward was something to seek, with God’s help, to attain. It was not something that we already were … it was not an area of life that we could check off our list.

Second, stewardship involves every area of life. There is a stewardship of our tongue, a stewardship of our work place, a stewardship of our marriage, a stewardship of our children, a stewardship of our abilities, a stewardship of our possessions, a stewardship of our parents, and a hundred other areas. In other words, we do not restrict stewardship to finances – it impacts every area of life.

With that in mind please turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 4:11. It is on page 152 of the back section of the Bible in the chair in front of you.

As you are getting there lets remind ourselves of the 4 principles of stewardship.

  1. God owns everything – you own nothing.
  2. God has entrusted you with everything you have.
  3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given – he wants you to increase it.
  4. God can call you into account at any time and it may be today.

This year we are applying those truths to the values of the body of Christ. Please follow along as I read Ephesians 4:11-16. This is the word of the Lord.

We learned that the first value was equipping (vv. 11-12). God gave specific people the task of equipping for ministry. The stewardship questions that flowed out of that idea were …

  1. If you are an equipper, are you actively equipping? Are you stewarding the equipping responsibility that God gave?
  2. If you are not an equipper, are you desiring to be equipped? Do you want to be trained so that you can be more fruitful and productive for Christ’s church?

The second value was unity (v. 13). Unity takes work. Marriages split because at some point they no longer valued unity. People change workplaces because they no longer value unity in that location. God designed us, as a church, to be unified. The stewardship questions that naturally flow are:

  1. Do you think of yourself as part of the church? It impacts our terminology. When the Cubs won the World Series how did Cubs’ fans talk about it? “We won.” The fans did not play in the game. Most did not even attend a WS game to cheer on the team. But it is still “their team.” Make fun of the Cubs and watch out … When you talk about Faith is it “my church” or “the church I go to”? There is a huge difference. If it is your church … (not that you own it … Jesus owns it … but you see it as a part of the stewardship he has given you) … then you value your church, you care about what is happening in your church, you contribute to your church accomplishing the mission. Those who keep the church in the 3d person watch to see what happens.
  2. Are you committed to unity in the church? Do you actively work to solve problems when they occur or do you sweep them under the rug?
  3. Do you seek to avoid complaining or being divisive because you know that it does not honor the Lord?
  4. Do you steward unity such that you are builder? You actively make Faith a more unified church.

The third value was doctrine (vv. 14-15). We are involved in community-based ministry. We are putting ourselves out there. One of the risks is that we compromise our very belief system. The same thing is possible in parenting or in relationships. Let’s just sacrifice doctrine because if we do not it will jeopardize our relationship with our spouse or our children will not be happy.

  1. Are we committed to learning doctrine? We have several systematic theologies in the resource center. If we are going to steward doctrine then it will take a little work to know it well.
  2. Then we have the task of saying … when are we willing to give up our doctrine because it may make life a little more difficult?

The fourth and final value in our series and in this text is service. We value Service. In Ephesians 4:16 I would like us to consider three truths that can help us value service.

Truth #1: Everyone makes a very significant contribution to the whole

Ephesians addresses a very important division in the church. The Jews and the Gentiles who trusted Christ as Lord and Savior could not figure out how to get along in the same church. There were divisions and conflicts between them.

Earlier in Ephesians God gives us several metaphors to describe the church.

All of these metaphors demonstrate our common ground in Christ. But common ground in Christ does not mean that all of us are the same. Or that our differences are meaningless.

Two married people become one. In time, each one will influence the other in many ways, but each will also remain distinct. Their contributions will be distinct. Their skills will be distinct. Each contribution is an important part of the whole.

This unity with diversity in one body is the metaphor used to describe the church. In Eph 4:16 we see …

A.     Fitted and Held together indicating we are connected to one another

These words are used in other NT epistles to demonstrate unity and the dependence we have on one another just like all the parts of our body are connected to one another.

When we get ready for bed we do not remove our arm and set it on the end table.

God decided that you and I were not allowed to function on our own. We were designed as one body.

I asked if I could share this story this morning. Last year was a challenging year for our family.

Despite the fact that he was about 5’10” and 170 pounds he had a very small portion of his shoulder that was not functioning properly.

Friends that is how it works in the church. The Lord Jesus told us that like it or not we are connected to one another. When one part hurts we all suffer and when one part rejoices we all rejoice.

All the extroverts are saying “amen” and all the introverts are saying “whatever.” I want to speak for just a moment to you introverts.

If we are going to properly value service then we have to see how God designed us to function as a single body. The text continues …

B.      What every joint supplies indicating that we have different roles

 

Every joint supplies something. Once Samuel’s little joint was not causing problems any more everything changed. He was back to fully functioning.

From this one little statement we know that every joint supplies something very important to the function of the body.

  • Incorrect mindset 1: I am not a valuable part
  • Incorrect mindset 2: You are not important

1 Corinthians 12:12-19 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For aby one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be?

There are many versions of this like, “No one will miss me,” or “No one will care if I am gone,” or “I am not like _____.” All of them adopt this same mentality prevalent in Corinth. It just does not matter.

Tell that to your spouse, child, or roommate the next time they are sick. Quit whining, there is just a little microscopic virus or bacteria that is causing your problem. Just deal with it.

If that does not work with respect to our physical body why would we think it would work with respect to our spiritual body?

When you think you don’t matter, you are violating an important truth of Scripture.

1 Corinthians 12:20-26 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

In this case, the problem is the exact opposite. In the first case, you were saying that yourself. In the second case, someone else is saying it about you or you are saying it about someone else.

This is the heart of pride. This is the you can do everything yourself and watch everything crumble under your arrogance. Both mindsets do not honor the Lord.

I think we need to get specific at this point. I want us to think about what “every joint supplies” looks like in a various ministry settings.

AM service: Who are the players in the AM service?

I picked just one ministry. This same exercise could be conducted across the ministry spectrum. What about Living Nativity?

Notice that vv. 25-26 explain how a biblical mindset of the body works.

Some of you are not so sure this is really true. You are not sure that others suffer if you are not contributing. You are not sure that you gain benefit. Hang on to that thought. We will come back to it.

The fact that each person has a different role and that the roles are valuable is a key part of seeing that everyone makes a very significant contribution to the whole. Let us consider a second truth … back to Ephesians 4:16

Truth #2. Every one of us contributes according to the stewardship granted to us

This point comes from the language “according to the proper working of each individual part.”

 

A.     Continual emphasis on Christ

As we serve we are a blessing to the ones around us. More importantly, however, we are serving the person who owns the church. Let me read Ephesians 4:11-16 again highlighting the references to Christ.

I loved how Peter T. O’Brien put it, Although the church is at the forefront of Paul’s thinking in this passage, Christology has not collapsed into ecclesiology, as some seem to suggest. The lordship of Christ is clearly evident throughout. (Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, Pillar NT Commentary, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999], 317)

B.      We always serve for God’s glory

1 Peter 4:10-11 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Yet again, we see the value of serving according to the manifold grace of God. When we speak we speak the utterances of God and when we serve we serve with the strength God provides.

In this short verse we know that everyone contributes something very special and we know that God has given all of us a stewardship for his honor and glory.

Now we need to start making this super practical. I want to think about some types of service available and how we all benefit or how we are suffer as a result.

In other words, how do the parts work here at Faith?

Living Nativity is coming up … we present the story line of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation using life size sets. It takes a cast, it takes set up and tear down, it takes greeters and people with refreshments, it takes people caring for the animals, it takes parking attendants and people to give and collect the CDs. Everyone of us is dependent on everyone of us.

The LN leadership tells me that there are needs in the cast and for set up. The take away from this sermon for some of you is to sign up to do your contribution.

CFE is coming up. We have the opportunity to serve children in our community. Some of us are going shopping, some are setting up bins at local businesses, some are organizing names. Some will be greeting and hosting.

One more … Community Center serving. We now have 3 community centers … east, west, and north.

At our church we ask people to evaluate their stewardship in two basic categories.

Category #1: Regular weekly service

Regular weekly service includes things like ABF teachers and coordinators, teaching FCI classes, Children’s ministry and Nursery including WNKoF, Youth ministry, volunteering at the community centers, and serving with the men at Restoration.

There are serving opportunities in counseling, in teaching, in mentoring, in caring for children, in greeting the community, in cleaning, and encouraging teens.

Category #2: Special events

These are things like the LN, CFE, BCTC, VBS, the stewardship celebration, the taste of Christmas, and the Northend community center cleaning and landscaping. There are many such opportunities as the year goes along.

I believe there are two additional questions that need to be answered.

Q#1: How do I know where to serve … what is my “proper working of each individual part”?

One of the blessings of being part of a ministry like this is that you have lots of options. The best way to see what God will do with your service is to begin serving. Pick something that is a need. The Lord will refine it as you go. You heard Matt and Nadia explain how their service attitude grew and became more refined as they served. Their start was where there was a need.

Sign up for LN today. Agree to host a family for the BCTC. Call your service pastor and ask to be involved in the community centers.

As you serve you will watch God work in your life.

Q#2: How do I suffer or benefit from the proper contribution of others?

I have said something to this effect several times this morning. What do I mean? I know that some hearing this message will be tempted to think differently about that.

When a person suffers from an illness or an injury or they just leave it does several things.

  • It means that we miss out on their contribution. Whatever contribution they brought is now gone. In that we suffer.
  • It means that we are missing a friend that we value and appreciate in that we suffer.
  • It means that someone else must carry the mantle … in this they suffer.

What about the opposite? What happens when everyone is properly deployed and serving according to their contribution. How does that help all of us?

What about something smaller. Let’s say a college student comes to Purdue and hears about PBF. He finds out that Stefan, our college pastor, went to FBS. He contacts Stefan and asks if he can meet because he wants to learn more about why Stefan decided to pursue ministry.

Two years later he is meeting with Pastor Aucoin to talk about becoming a seminary student and we have the chance to be blessed by an intern for three years.

Okay, that is still too crazy. You are a “lowly” children’s ministry worker. But you get to know little Johnny. His parents do not teach him about the Lord. You are.

Friends, valueing serving and valueing your individual role in serving is all about seeing that everyone of us contributes a valuable service and that our contributions are different according to the Lord’s work in our life.

When one suffers the whole body suffers and when one is honored the whole body is honored. We have one more truth to cover.

Truth #3: When everyone properly contributes the whole body grows

 

Just as in Christ was a part of this process so is “in love.” We do not brow beat each other into service.

That growth may come in the form of additional people who want to be part of this local body. It may be the inner growth that we each experience as we are transformed to be more like Christ.

As stewardship month concludes there is one important logical question to answer … are you fully deployed as good stewards of whatever grace God supplied? If not, I encourage you to make a specific effort today to be at stewardship celebration and sign up to serve in the areas of need today

 

Dr. Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry, Chair of the MABC program, and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.