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Sermon Summary: Serving One Another (May 8, 2016)

Last Sunday’s Sermon Summary
Pastor Tim Tseng • May 8, 2016

Serving One Another
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Galatians 5:13-14 (NIV)

MAIN POINT: To serve one another in the body of Christ is to commit our resources to meet the practical needs of fellow believers and those overlooked or exploited.

1. Three motivations to serve:

Service as commodity. Our labor, body, time is exchanged for personal benefit. If we make this our core motivation to serve, Paul calls it “indulging the flesh.” Rather, we ought “to serve one another humbly in love.” (Gal. 5:13)

Service as obligation. When we serve our parents, family, church, community, or nation not because we want to, but because it proves our loyalty and moral goodness. But Paul says we are called to be free, so service should be voluntary.

   Service as a commodity and as an obligation are not completely evil. But the biblical and higher ideal of service is motivated by love and chosen freely.

Service for equality. We serve with the goal of making equality real, of correcting inequality. This is a deeper biblical motivation for our service, shaped by God’s passionate desire for righteousness. The gospel moves those who have much to invest in those who have little until all things become equal (2 Cor. 8:13-14 and Acts 6:1-7). Paul says that this is what Jesus was about: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9; see also Phil. 2)

    When we serve freely and humbly out of love, and with a desire to make equality a reality, we are fulfilling Jesus’ command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

2. Practical Application: Time, Money, and Expertise

– As busy people who want to follow Jesus’ example, we must be especially thoughtful about how we serve others. It helps to see ourselves as stewards of God’s gifts rather than owners. We can then see service as an investment.

Serving with our time, the most important commodity in our culture today.
a. Consider the impact of every decision we make. Purchases, commitments, responsibilities, hobbies and projects all contain hidden costs. Be ruthlessly realistic. Don’t do it if it takes away time to be a servant.
b. Simplify our lives as much as possible. Careful planning.
c. Make service a priority and a habit – build it into our weekly schedules

Serving with our money
a. Recognize that loving money too much can harm us (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
b. Express careful stewardship of our wealth; invest it in other people, thus laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
c. Requires careful planning. If we live by conviction, we will limit what we spend on ourselves, budget our income wisely, and live in order to give.

Serving with our expertise. Equip and mentor others with what we do best; share our gifts in the church and among the needy.

In sum: If all comes down to motives. The needy don’t owe us anything, and it’s not right to make them think they do. We serve for their sake, not our own. We serve to obey God, not to get them to obey us. Service is love for our neighbors.  We serve because we are being made new in Christ. We serve because it’s who we are and we cannot do otherwise.

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About Tim Tseng

I'm Pastor of English Ministry at Canaan Taiwanese Christian Church (San Jose, CA), independent scholar and theological educator.

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