“The Rewards of Serving”
Hello, my name is Bret McCasland. Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” When people do something that is good they oftentimes want to be rewarded for it. That is especially true with young children. When they obey their parents or learn something in school they want to get a prize or special recognition. As adults, we tend to want the same thing, from time to time. We want a little recognition or a reward of some kind for something that we have done for someone else. And that is probably not the best motivation for doing good, but it does happen. However, there are several rewards available in the area of service. For those who receive that blessing or are served in a special way, they are rewarded. And for those who do the giving or who provide the blessing, they are rewarded with a good feeling for helping someone in need. In today's lesson on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will look at some things the Bible tells us about the rewards of serving others. Those rewards, or blessings, are not reserved for those who either give or receive them. If you take a few minutes to hear this message today, I think you will realize what I mean. I now invite you to open up your heart and your Bible as we study together from God's Word.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of visiting a number of different churches, and lots of them do a good job of taking care of their members and ministering to their various needs. Many of them also focus on serving one another and reaching out to their various communities and neighborhoods. Now, those things are important for those who are part of God's family and who want to represent the Lord. But yet, there are some questions which still remain. What is the benefit of serving one another, why is it so important, and is a life of serving others really worth it? It may not always be easy to serve other people. We may not think we have very much to offer, but nothing is too small for God to use. No act of service and no gift of love goes unnoticed. As the disciples sat with Jesus outside of the temple gates one day, a widow came to make her offerings; and she gave 2 mites, or 2 menas, and that is comparable to our smallest amount of money. In the United States, it might be two pennies, or in India perhaps 2 rupees. Well, Jesus saw that and He had this response, “She gave all she had to live on.” This woman evidently had very little money to give, but what she did have she gave, and Jesus noticed. And He also said, “This woman gave more than all of those who contributed more.” Oh, the woman did not give very much money, but she had a big heart. She gave out of her great love for God, and Jesus saw that and He praised her for it. When we take time to prepare a meal to make someone’s day by showing up, making a visit, or by ringing someone's phone, Jesus notices. We are also to do what we can to serve other people, whether or not they seem to appreciate it. How many times have you helped someone who was in need and yet you never received a thank you in return? No doubt that was a little bit disappointing and a little bit disheartening. You might even had thought to yourself, well, why is it that I serve other people if I don't get recognized for what I do? Well, a person may not thank us, but God does. He recognizes the effort and He appreciates the sacrifice we put forth in order to serve someone else. I'm reminded of what the Apostle Peter wrote in 1st Peter 4, verse 10: <Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.> You know, you and I have gifts and resources that go far beyond what so many other people experience and receive. We are abundantly blessed and we know that. We recognize how rich and prosperous we are compared to so many other people who live in poverty stricken nations. And those gifts and those resources, according to Peter's words, are to be used not for ourselves but to serve others. In other words, as God has blessed us we are to use those blessings to bless someone else. Our wealth and our prosperity is to be shared. Think of a time when you were not as well off financially as what you are today. You did not have very much and what you did have did not seem to go very far. You were poor. You were in need. You longed for someone to help you in the midst of those hard times in poverty; and sure enough, somebody showed up. You know, some of us have been there, haven't we? I know I can relate. And in those times, it's not a very pleasant time in our life. It's embarrassing. Perhaps it's a little bit humiliating. But we remember times when somebody blessed us. They provide us some much needed relief, and we remember how we felt. We were grateful. We were appreciative. We were blessed. We thank God for that blessing. You know, as faithful stewards of God's grace and the resources He entrust to us, we are to use them to serve other people, as we ourselves have been served. We lift up our eyes and see the people God puts before us who need what we can give, and so we offer our resources. And that's the exact thing that Peter told us to do. You know, beyond our efforts to please God or to please others, there is something even more important. There is something which is far greater, and that is a home with God in heaven. It is God's ultimate recognition that we are His children and that we have represented Him well. Now, I need to emphasize something very important right here. Our efforts of doing something good and blessing and serving other people do not purchase our salvation. They do not buy our way into heaven, if you will. What Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, in His death and then His burial and resurrection from the grave, that is what purchases our salvation, not the good works that we do. The good works and the blessings that that we share with other people in our acts of service simply demonstrate our love and our appreciation for what has already been done for us. Well, with that in mind, I do want to highlight three things which I believe happen when we serve the people God puts before us. The first one is this: Serving blesses us. Jesus stated these words, according to Luke 6:38; <"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”> Jesus, lets it be known, if we give He is going to bless us with even more. And the blessings that come back to us are pressed down, shaken together. They're running over. In other words, we can never out-give God. He blesses us far more than what we can give away to other people. And that encourages us, doesn't it? We know that as we are blessed by God and we give out those blessings, God replaces what we have given in an even greater amount. And so serving others is a way to give back to the Lord. Jesus served us by dying on our behalf. He offered Himself as the greatest sacrifice of all time. And one way we can say thank you for that gift of salvation is to share it with other people. If someone were to give you a large sum of money, no doubt it would probably change your life dramatically. And I would hope that you, or if I was in that situation, would take a moment to say thank you to the person who gave the money. We would write a letter, a thank you note. We would make a phone call or send a message, take them out for a meal or give them a gift in return; and that only makes sense. That person has changed our life significantly, and it's a good thing to simply say thank you, I appreciate what you did. Well, serving others is the result of realizing what Jesus has already done for us. His death, His burial, His resurrection from the grave has changed our life, as we noticed a moment ago, and it provided a way for us to share in God's salvation. And so with that in mind, we do what we can. We look for ways that we can serve other people. And when we serve people, it expresses our thanks to God; and that's the motivation behind serving that. That is one reason why we give of our time and of our energy. We find these words in Proverbs 19, verse 17: <Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.> When we are kind to those who are poor and less fortunate, we help those who cannot help themselves. And when we do that, we recognize that the Lord recognizes us. He rewards us. He blesses us for what we have done, and that may come in a variety of ways. It comes in ways that we experience at that moment or perhaps even down the road in some capacity. With that in mind, I think about the words of Hebrews 6, verse 10: <God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.> You know, in ministering to and serving other people. We are encouraged to know that God sees that. He sees what we are doing. He is pleased with the way we bless and minister to and serve others. And at just the right time and in just the right way, God, in turn, will bless us with even more. Here's a second thought for us to consider: Serving blesses others. When Christians see other Christians serving people, more than likely they will want to be a part of that. They don't want to miss out on something good that is taking place to bless other people. It creates a sense of enthusiasm and excitement. There is a willingness to get involved with something that is making a difference in the lives of other people. We all have something we can do. We all have some gifts. We all have some resources that God has entrusted to us with which we can bless others; but the point is, we are to be willing to do that. We are to be willing to be involved, to be active in ministering and in serving, as we use the gifts God entrusted to us. He doesn't entrust those gifts so that we keep them for ourselves, but He gives them so that we can use them in a spirit of blessing and building up and mutual encouragement. Several passages in the Bible remind us of the gifts, the blessings, God gives to us. One of them is found in Romans chapter 12. Let's begin reading with verse 4. <For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.> That's a great passage, isn't it? The Apostle Paul identifies a number of different gifts which God has entrusted to people. And his point is, if you've received such a gift then use it, use it in a good way. There are people in your community and in your neighborhoods who need the gift which God has entrusted to you. They need what you have to offer and they are waiting to receive it. Think about those gifts. The gift that you have may fit into one of those categories that we just identified, there in Romans 12. Or your gift might be something else. It might be something different that is not even listed. But here's the point, whatever gifts God has entrusted to us, we are to use that gift, or those gifts, for the purpose of blessing someone else. Serving people seems to be contagious. Once a person is blessed in some way, we typically want to pass on that blessing to someone else. I don't know if you've ever been a part of a program called “Pay It Forward.” There’s lots of different ways that is demonstrated. I think about driving through a drive-thru line at a restaurant or a place where you get something to drink, and you drive through and you're there at the window. You're going to pay for your order, and the attendant on the inside says, well, the person in that car in front of you has just paid for your food, or for your drink. And your immediate thought is, well that’s a really nice thing for them to do. And then you have a choice to make. You can either drive on and enjoy that gift, or you can say, well, let me pay for the order of the person behind me. And you do that and you begin to think about how you have been blessed and how you can be a blessing to someone else. Well, to do that, no doubt, involves taking a risk. We might even come out on the short end, as someone does not follow through and pay for something for us. And likewise, the same is true when it comes to serving people. Some sacrifices have to be made. And whether we benefit from our service or not, we are still going to be blessed. We serve so that those who receive what we give will recognize that we are serving because of what God has done for us, and they will know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ, according to John 13, verse 35. Here's one more thought: Serving honors God. When we serve the people God puts before us, we sense His smile upon our life. We get His stamp of approval. We are doing what He has called upon us to do, and that is a big deal for those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ. And that's what we want, isn't it? We want God's smile. We want His stamp of approval on who we are as one of His children. During His earthly ministry, Jesus did not meet the needs of everybody who followed Him. He did not serve every single person whom He encountered, but He did serve some. And for those whom He served, He made a difference in their lives. Obviously we cannot serve everyone whom we meet, but we can serve some. And that is what matters to God; we see the needs of people and we do what we can in order to be a blessing to them. There are well over 7 billion people living on the face of this earth, and there is lots of good being done to share God's love and salvation. There's lots of good being done to minister to and to bless others. But yet, there are still people who are not being served. And God knows that, but He simply calls us to do what we can to help as many as we can for the purpose of honoring Him. And so our goal is to be for the people whom we do serve to see the love of God in our hearts and the light of Jesus Christ shining in our lives. And when we serve others, people notice. They see God's Spirit living in us and they have a choice to make. They can either reject or receive that love. And certainly it is harder for them to reject it if we serve in the name of the Lord instead of serving in order to bring honor to ourselves. Oh, even if no one sees what you are doing to serve others, remember this one thing, God sees you. And even if no one cares about the effort you are putting forth, remember, God cares. He sees you and He loves you and He appreciates you using what He has entrusted to you. As we began our lesson a moment ago, we read a passage from 1st Peter chapter 4, verse 10. I want to go back and read it again and then follow up with verse 11. Here's what Peter wrote. <Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.> And now verse 11: <If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.> You put those two verses together, and here's the point that's being made: When we use our God given gifts and talents and abilities in ministry to others, God is glorified and honored. And that is the best reward of all, to give our praise and honor to God because He is the one who gave us those gifts in the first place. And that was the very thing Jesus did in His earthly ministry. He honored God with everything He said and did. Jesus pleased His Father in the service He gave, and look at His reward. He was rewarded with a home at His Father's right hand. In Mark chapter 10, beginning with verse 43, we find these important words from Jesus: <“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”> Well, there is the ultimate example of service. Jesus, as the Son of Man, gave His life. And what a tremendous example for us to follow, to give all we have to give. If we have decided to follow Jesus and to submit our lives to Him, then we will be a servant. In a spirit of humility we will serve those whom God puts before us, and then we will trust God with what happens next to those people. Once again, God has served us in the greatest way possible through His Son, Jesus Christ, and the salvation that we can receive through Him. And in turn, we serve others because of how generously Jesus has already served us. Here's a final statement for us to remember. The more we serve and the more we give of ourselves to Him and to others around us, the more God continue to bless us and the more He is honored. That's something worth remembering, isn't it? We keep on serving, we keep on giving. We keep on blessing others in response to the gifts and the service and the blessings God gives to us. That may, in ways, be easily measured, but it may also be measured in ways we don't even know. It will ultimately be in a way, however, that we cannot even describe, as we are able to enjoy that eternal home with Him. I hope today that you find the people in your life who need your time and who need your attention and that you will serve them with a very humble and sacrificial attitude, just like that of our Savior, Jesus Christ. A few minutes ago, as we began, we asked the question, is a life of serving others really worth it? And my answer to that question is, absolutely yes.
This sign is in the parking lot of a church building, and I like that sign! Giving away free food and clothing on a monthly basis, that speaks well of this church. They want to help people who are in need. The people here are able to distribute clothes and food to those who are less fortunate. Perhaps they cannot purchase these clothes and food anywhere else because they don't have enough funds. And the people who receive the free food and clothing are blessed. They're able to take something which they really need and it makes a difference in their lives. And so I think about the blessing that comes to these people who are making the distribution, and the blessing the people receive who get the food and clothing. You know, that inspires me. That encourages me. That makes me think highly of those who are behind this project and who are distributing the food and the clothes. But the main thing is, God is praised. God is honored by the gifts that are given and received. The people don't pat themselves on the back and they don't bring attention to themselves. They just go and serve those who are in need. And that's what God wants. He wants His people to minister to those who are less fortunate. He wants them to see beyond their own needs and how they can help other people. And so the people who distribute are rewarded. The people who receive are rewarded. But most importantly, God is honored. God is praised because His people are representing Him.
Thank you for joining us for today's lesson on “Key to the Kingdom.” Hopefully this message encouraged you and provided some things for you to consider about serving other people. The lesson can be found on our website, at keytothekingdom.com. There are many other lessons on the website as well, and all of them can be downloaded in a variety of formats. There is no cost and there is no obligation associated with doing so. I encourage you to take a few minutes to look through the website and to notice the many other Bible studies and devotional thoughts which are available. All of them are designed to assist or strengthen you in your daily walk with the Lord. Other ways to find us are through Roku® Television, a free app for smart phones, and on Facebook®. I encourage you to follow this ministry through any of those mass media options. If we can be of assistance to you, please send us an email. Each message will be returned just as soon as possible. Thank you again for joining us today and I invite you to be with us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”