My church has 4 core values. They are…
1. Love: Unconditionally
2. Serve: Relentlessly
3. Give: Generously
4. Honor: Continually
My senior pastor, Mark Wagnon, recently asked me to share on the 2nd one. Now my knee-jerk reaction was to talk about how we can all serve God and people around us. Throw out a couple of missionary stories, talk about a soup kitchen, and leverage it all with the great commission.
End it with…
“Who’s ready to serve the Lord this week? Amen! Be blessed! See you next Sunday!”
Then I realized that rarely have people been convinced to serve after a message on serving. I heard a lot of those while putting on mileage in the church circuit as a missionary kid. Many of us like the idea of serving but have never put this into daily practice. I didn’t know why until, I believe, God revealed it to me.
We don’t have a good concept on time.
Serving the Lord is something you do down the road when you “know Him more,” “have the funds,” or my favorite,”hear His voice.”
I love time. Down time, off time, vacation time, break time, free time, whatever you want to call it, I’ll take it. I look forward to good times and reminisce on old times. Good or bad, that time happened. My favorite sentence intro is, “Remember that time…” The passing of time makes us better or bitter. We laugh, cry, think, fear, rejoice, or angrily punch a steering wheel like I do because of time.
It’s the one thing we all have in common. Every human in the world doesn’t share the same food, interests, bank account, housing, hobbies, culture, etc. We all have time. Granted, some people have more than others but ultimately we all have the same–24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year, 52 weeks a year and 365 days a year. Some people defeat dragons–or should I say pixels–with their time. Other people find cures for diseases with theirs. People govern countries, stare at jail cell walls, or raise a baby with their time. I hope those were enough analogies to prove my point. My observation is that we all have time but rarely value it. We either live for the distant future (ie college, vacations, weddings, families) or for the weekend. We all love time but we don’t respect time. We’ll say stuff like, “Don’t waste my TIME, “TIME is money,” “Ain’t nobody got TIME for that,” or “I’m just killing TIME!”
Name 1 other thing that you kill on a daily basis that you’re okay with… I can wait.
When I was asked to talk about 1 of our 4 core values I realized that no one will ever feel the need to apply them to their daily life if they don’t have the proper respect for time.
When it comes to serving, we always put it into this perfect concept of what we deem ministry is.
Laying on of hands.
Mission work in the heart of Africa.
Praying & Fasting for 40 days and 40 nights.
What if I told you that ministry and serving is a lot easier than what you’ve always perceived it to be? What if told you that the core values of my church should be your words to live by? Well, ministry is and those words are. Why?
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
The Bible isn’t an old book, it’s an eternal one. It was relevant then and it’s relevant now. Paul recognized that life is much more than just existing. It’s about doing what God created us for. We can either be unwise or wise. “Making the most of every opportunity.” Every opportunity? Every OPPORTUNITY? EVERY OPPORTUNITY? Yes. What could be important?
I love Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus. He knew what we should all know. “The days are evil.” We don’t do good because we want recognition. We don’t love, serve, give and honor because of church. We do all that because we love our Creator and because we live in a speck of a timeline and He wants us to UNDERSTAND HIS WILL. Most importantly, to do it.
I love talking to humans with more years than me. Some of them are smart. Some aren’t. It’s hit or miss. I’ve been in church since the womb and I’ve gotten compliments along these lines:
“I wish I was as involved in the church as you are now when I was younger.”
“I wish I would have known better and started serving God sooner.”
“I wish I was your age so I could get to do all that you’re doing now.”
“If I was a little bit younger…”
“If I could…”
In the past, I’ve chuckled and responded back with, “Thank you, I’m blessed. You can still serve too. We’re all important in the body of Christ.”
Now, I’ve never questioned or grilled anyone after a conversation like this, but here recently I’ve come to understand the place of hurt and pain that those “I wish” statements come from. People say that out of regret of the opportunities that they didn’t make the most of and jealousy stemming from misunderstanding how evil the days actually are! Their goal was to live a life so comfortable, so safe, so successful, and they did. And after it was all said and done, they missed the main thing–loving God, loving people, and doing something about it. I’m not against savings accounts and life insurance or planning for the future. It’s important, but there’s something greater going on than just worrying about you and yours.
Jesus said this in Matthew 6:25-31.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?
27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,
29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’
32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Stop being selfish.
Stop disrespecting time.
Make the most of your opportunities.
II Peter 1:5-11 has great thoughts on living a productive life that honours God, our time on earth and others.
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,
6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,
7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
10 So, dear brothers and sisters,* work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.
11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I love what Peter strings together here:
Supplement your faith with moral excellence
moral excellence with knowledge,
knowledge with self-control
self-control with patient endurance
patient endurance with godliness,
godliness with brotherly affection
brotherly affection with love for everyone
I love how he ties that all together with verse 8 that simply says, “The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The more you grow like this.
As in, this was never about just knowing, closing the book and riding your understanding out. It’s always been about knowing, growing, and all of that showing. Why? Because if you do so, “the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That’s not just for a select group of people who hear an audible voice from the heavens. It’s everyone who’s in the word, learning about God, seeking His will, and not being stagnant.
Documented in a few of the gospels is the story of Judas Iscariot, the infamous full-time disciple, part-time treasurer who betrayed Jesus.
He snitched on Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. In today’s world, that was the equivalent of $3000 to $3900. He witnessed the SON OF GOD preach, teach, heal, multiply lunch, curse trees, calm a storm, raise humans from the dead, and more, and He traded all that in for a few thousand dollars.
A little while post-transaction, caveat emptor (buyer’s remorse) settles in.
Judas realized that he traded EVERYTHING for nothing.
Author, writer, preacher Francis Chan wrote, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
Friends, I have succeeded in things that don’t really matter.
I failed to make the most of opportunities and lived a life that was just existing!
I wear a bracelet that has the number 70 blacksmithed into it. I got the idea from a pastor I admire. It’s a part of a quote known as, “Better at 70.” It’s a goal. I want to be a better, man, sibling, friend, leader, follower, disciple, husband, father, and so much more at 70 years old. I can’t be that If I’m not daily working towards that. Annie Dillard beautifully wrote, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.”
How have you spent your days?
How have you built on the rock solid foundation?
How are you growing in the qualities Peter deemed crucial for productivity?
How are you making the most of EVERY opportunity in these evil days?
I’m glad Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes…” God knows there are gonna be a lot. We serve a God who chose us and appointed us to do his good work. In season, out of season, McDonalds, Malaysia, soup kitchens, orphanages, nurseries, nursing homes, at home or abroad. My church’s core values are relevant to anyone and everyone.
As a dedicated Christian, are you gonna love genuinely?
The Lord God? Your neighbor as yourself? The people you love and the people you can’t stand?
As a genuinely loving Christian, are you serving relentlessly?
Serving the people around you? Your local church? Just anyone who needs it?
As a loving, serving Christian are you giving generously?
The Bible says, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Where do you invest the most? College football? Restaurants? Entertainment? Shopping?
As a loving, serving, giving Christian are you honoring constantly?
Do you pick and choose what you want to obey in the Word or do you take it all, as is? Do you honor God and uphold his laws when people are and aren’t watching? Do you respect your authorities, parents, bosses and God? Honoring isn’t about following and being bossed around but it’s about putting others above yourself for the sake of lifting God high. What better way to give the utmost for the highest, than to honor. If they’re breathing God’s air, then there’s still hope.
Love. Serve. Give. Honor.