What Really Matters Part 4
By Benjamin Raven Pressley
We have spoken of the importance of having a continuing relationship with God, not forced or from a sense of duty or command, a love relationship. A relationship built on trust and a genuine desire to be with Him, to speak with Him and to listen to all He has to say. As we continued we flowed out of our relationship and a natural continuity into being a student of the Word, being a disciple, sitting at His feet, learning from Him and yet getting to know Him even more from the words He has given us in that book that is more than a book we call the Holy Bible. And in that book we learn who we are in Christ and what He has accomplished by defeating the power of sin and the devil. We learn we are not orphans, we are children of the king and yet even more, somehow intimately connected with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No longer do we have to force ourselves to love Him. We find peace and understanding and realize that He need not command us to love Him but we love Him with all that is within us. He pours into our innermost being and like a mighty river it cannot be stopped. It flows in us and through us, but where does it flow? It is in this lesson that I want to address just that. Jesus said, “37 If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers of living water. 39 But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive:” (John 7 :37-39). Up until now this series has focused on our relationship with God, now we find that there is also a relationship with our world and the people in our lives. And yet it is also the same as we shall see. We have learned to love the Lord with all that is within us, now we want to deal with the second part of this statement Jesus made when He said ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ as stated originally in Deuteronomy 6:5 and reiterated by Jesus Himself in Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27. Again I ask you as in the previous study, can you force someone to love someone, of course not. So how is it possible to love others even as yourself. It is connected to this relationship we have in the Father that is in us and we in Him and it cannot help but flow out of our innermost being and onto others.
So, the fourth thing that really matters is servanthood. This is a word that most modern day people can’t relate to these days. It is a foreign concept to most people in this world to serve anyone. It is almost a dirty word associated with slavery to most. But if you truly love someone you don’t mind doing things for them. If you truly love someone you can’t help but to do things for them. Love is not a contest about getting someone to do stuff for you it is about serving one another. It is no coincidence that this world’s standard is ‘all-about me’. We have come to a point in time in modern society where it seems we don’t need anyone. We can live alone, buy our own groceries and needs, work a job and collect our own money. We need not even interact with anyone unless we want to. And then when we do interact with someone it is usually because of something we want for ourselves. I saw a documentary once about a Japanese kid, may have been in his twenties at best, that had completely dropped out of society. He pasted newspaper to his windows so no sunlight would get in. He lived in a room with his computers and said he never left the room. When asked how he made a living, how he ate and what about people in his life. He said he ordered his groceries and pizza over the computer, he hacked company computers for big money from his computer and said all the friends and sex he needed he got from the computer world. As valuable a tool that computers are and the social networks and virtual communities that have been created, these things were never meant to replace human interaction. This is no coincidence! There is a devil out there engineering the society our world is giving in to. The enemy knows we are stronger together than apart and it is his desire to divide and conquer. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “a three-fold cord is not easily broken.” Take a thread and it breaks easily but a strong rope is composed of many threads. It is a painful world to live in for so many and it is chiefly due to selfish people who care for no one but themselves. When it is all-about-you, you better check your spiritual temperature. God is love and if He truly dwells in you, you cannot help but to love others. Even those who have harmed you and you have had to separate yourselves from them for whatever reason, deep down you still care whether they are going to hell or not. This is not to say you are supposed to stay in an abusive, draining relationship. No one has a right to put you down and abuse you. This is just to say that deep down you do still care if someone goes to hell or not.
Apostle John taught us in 1 John 1:7, “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” That means we want to be with other people. We are relational beings. We were meant to be in relationship with God and with others. And he continues in 1 John 3:17-18, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” This is servanthood. It is seeing another’s needs and reaching out to them, helping them. “10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11). There is a connection here that Jesus was trying to teach when He said, ‘Love the Lord thy God with all that is within you and love your neighbor as yourself’ and also in these verses in 1 John and many more verses. When we have been born again we become a channel of God’s life, a conduit that not only connects us to the Father but also becomes a conduit for all humankind to receive from God. In our mouths are the words of life and salvation. In our hands is the healing touch. Read these scriptures: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:15-18). We have got to look at being a servant differently than what our thinking has been in a worldly frame of mind. We have the message and the power to be deliverers! The church is supposed to be a powerhouse. Like it says in these scriptures from the book of Mark, signs are supposed to follow us. In other words when we leave the scene there is supposed to be significant changes left behind as we move on to the next scenario in our lives. Everywhere we go lives are supposed to be changed and touched by the Master’s hand. Read the book of Acts! Everywhere the church went people were healed, demons were cast out, people were saved, delivered and filled with the Holy Spirit! We are like a physician that has been given the cure to a deadly disease. That physician then has to take it to the world that is dying with that disease and minister the cure. The church has been given the cure to the disease that the world is suffering from. That disease is sin. It is being spread by the devil and all who fight against those who believe. What in the world has happened since the book of Acts? Church, it is time for us to rise up and be deliverers once again. I know when you look at the world and how ungodly it has become it seems impossible. We have got to stop looking at it through our eyes of flesh and look at it through God’s eyes! Jesus said, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). God has given us access to HIM and HIS power. But unless we are in constant relationship with Him we can never function in the capacity we are supposed to function in. We must abide in Him. Read these scriptures:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
1 John 2:6
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
1 John 2:10
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
1 John 2:14
I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
1 John 2:27
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Is it beginning to make sense to you? I’m not telling you to go out and minister to others like some command or to place a guilt trip on you. I am saying that as you abide in Him it should be natural for us to want to reach out to others. “ If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15-16).
And not only are we to serve the unsaved and needy but it is equally important that we serve one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. I have heard it said that the church is the only army that shoots its wounded. What a sad commentary on the church of the living God and yet I have not only seen it happen but have been a victim of it myself. We are supposed to come together as a body and be members everyone together. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 puts it well:
“12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.
25 That there should be no schism (division) in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
We are supposed to be there for one another like a family. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2). It is no wonder the body of Christ has become so ineffective when it can’t stop dividing, bickering and tearing one another apart in our own gatherings.
We are supposed to be in service to our families also. If you want to truly evaluate whether one is a Christian or not look at how they treat their family. It is easy to fool your congregations preacher and teacher. It is easy to fool your fellow choir members and even your small group….but you can’t fool your family! If you aren’t showing love, respect and appreciation for your spouse and children you are a hypocrite and a liar and you need to repent! God doesn’t care how beautiful you sing or how eloquent you are if you mistreat your family. 1 Timothy 3:5 makes it pretty plain: “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” And Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The family came before the church and the church is only as strong as the families in the church. I will go a step further and say the country and the world is only as strong as the families in them. And every family is not composed of a husband, wife and 1.6 children. There are single parent families that need to be respected and supported more than they are by the body of Christ. Maybe even more so. I have been a single Dad raising two children on my own. It is tough. We need to reach out to single parent families. And what about grandparents raising their grandchildren. Also love and support needs to be given to that single living alone or with a roommate. It is a fallen world and the definition of family needs to be expanded and embrace those in need.
Love one another. Serve one another. We should do this in every aspect of our life including the fellowship of believers we meet with. I am told that less than 2% of the people in any congregation do all the work and ministry that is done by that body of believers. Find out where you can plug in to a local fellowship and how you can serve. It will actually benefit you also. It draws you into unity with the body of Christ and the mind of Christ. It will help you to mature spiritually and discover gifts you didn’t know you had. And there are no little gifts. So many fellowships seem to impress everyone that the only ones gifted are the singers, preachers and teachers. This should not be.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 puts it this way: “27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
And also 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:
“4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
This is the last part of this study. Are there other things a believer should do? Are there other important things? Certainly there are but it is my belief that if you focus on these 4 areas that everything else will flow out from these things. And furthermore anything you do that does not flow out of these areas is done in vain. There are many ministries. Praise and worship is important. Evangelizing is important. Intercession is important. But I know from experience that these things will be done naturally and not forced or done artificially or legalistically if you are in relationship with God, know who you are in Christ, being a student of the Word and serving others. I challenge you to try it and see if it is not true. Hmmm, I guess it truly can be summed up as Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. (Luke 10:27). It is time to be real. It is time to stop making ourselves live up to someone else’s standard. It is time to experience God in the way He was meant to be experienced.