A Love That Serves
Multiplied millions of dollars have poured into overseas missions under the banner of Lottie
Moon, the missionary whose name is used to promote our denominational annual foreign missions offering. But who was Lottie Moon and what did she do?
Lottie (short for Charlotte) was born in 1840 and grew up in an old and wealthy Virginia family. Her mother, a staunch Christian, read to her from the Bible, and as a girl Lottie developed a love for Scripture and for missionary biography. Lottie excelled in school and became one of the first Southern women to earn a Master’s Degree, all the while pondering what to do with her life. In the spring of 1873, Lottie, age thirty-three, heard her pastor preach a sermon on John 4:35: Do you not say, “There are still four months and then comes the harvest?” Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
As the preacher spoke of the whitened fields, Lottie made up her mind then and there to become a missionary to China. By autumn she was on her way.
For forty years, Lottie Moon worked unafraid in North China, serving faithfully amid storms of war, disease, poverty, and plague. When, in her early seventies, a terrible famine swept China, she gave her food and her last dollar for famine relief. She grew so frail and undernourished the doctor ordered her home. She died en route on Christmas Eve, 1912. In one of her many letters home, she wrote: “I would that I had a thousand lives that I might give them to the women of China.”
God calls each of us to be faithful servants who minister out of a heart of love. Christians are to be servants of God, and being a servant of God means being a servant of people.
In Mark's gospel we discover that Love equals a life of service to others. A love that serves has three characteristics: 1) It is a proactive love, 2) It is a available love, and 3) It is an authentic love.
I. A LOVE THAT SERVES IS A PROACTIVE LOVE
- proactive is a word we hear bantered about these days in business and management seminars
- in the secular world, it means having a hands-on kind of managerial style that acts in advance to deal with any expected difficulties
- in the Christian world, it means having a love for others that leads to a hands-on service
- it’s not merely about giving our dollars so that we can minister by proxy through the lives of others
- Jesus' love for us was indeed proactive
- He was a hands-on kind of Savior who sought out opportunities to minister and serve
- Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." NIV
A. JESUS WAS A SERVANT OF ACTION
- one of the worse traits an employer can find in an employee is the sin of slothfulness
- ILLUS. In Matthew's gospel, Jesus tells a parable about three servants who are intrusted by their master with his wealth. Two invest their master's wealth so that it earns a profit. They are commended by their master for being good and wise servants. But the third servant buries the wealth intrusted to him by his master. When the overlord returns, he condemns the servant for being lazy and not investing what had been intrusted to him.
- they are not merit badges for faithfulness, but capabilities and skills given to enable you to minister as a servant to others
- through His life he showed his disciples how to actively serve from a loving heart
- our Lord never grumbled about the tasks the Father asked Him to do, but willing humbled himself and took the role of a servant in this world
- ILLUS. I am convinced that God has three sorts of servants in the world: Some are slaves, and serve Him from fear; others are hirelings, and serve for wages; and the last are sons, who serve because they love.
- we see him casting out demons
- we watch as he heals the sick
- we behold him touching the lepers, and making the lame to walk
- he healed "all those who were brought to him"
- we even see him washing the disciple’s feet
- Jesus always had the time to stop and give someone a helping hand
- he never passed up an opportunity to serve and that service was always out of a heart of love
II. A LOVE THAT SERVES IS AN AVAILABLE LOVE
- Jesus undoubtedly had a busy life
- He was always telling his disciples, "I must needs go!"
- I'm sure there were times the disciples thought to themselves, "Here we go again! Now where?"
- because Jesus was always on the go, we see that many of his miracles took place along the roadside in-between towns
A. JESUS WAS NEVER SO BUSY THAT HE WAS UNAVAILABLE
- we never hear Jesus say, "In a minute," or "Maybe tomorrow," or "I'll get around to it," or "I'm sorry, I just don't have the time."
- even in the midst of a crowd, Jesus had a unique ability to single out the individual who needed special attention
- Mark 5:21-43
- Jesus was surrounded by a huge throng of people
- in fact, the crowd is mentioned five times
- in the midst of all those people, Jesus still had the time to minister to two separate individuals who needed special attention
III. A LOVE THAT SERVES IS AN AUTHENTIC LOVE
- authentic love is a genuine love
- it's not feigned, it's not pretend, it's not merely a response to those who can return love
- the world is tired of phonies and can usually spot them
A. AUTHENTIC LOVE IS NOT AN EMOTION BUT AN ACT OF THE WILL THAT SEEKS TO SERVE THOSE AROUND US
- in the 2nd chapter of Mark's gospel, we see the authentic love of Christ in action
- Jesus spoke to a man who was paralyzed and said, Son, your sins are forgiven.
- some of the religious leaders there that day doubted whether Jesus was authentic
- Jesus proved his genuine love by giving the paralytic man what he needed most – forgiveness of sin
- the response of the crowd was, "We've never seen anything like this before!"
- A Love That Serves Is an Authentic Love
IV. THE APPLICATION
- being a servant who serves out of a heart of love is not always easy service and it is usually not glamorous service
- ILLUS. A report on Volunteerism in America that came out a few years ago stated that it is getting harder and harder to get people to volunteer for anything. From the work place, to the schools, and even to the church, fewer and fewer people are getting involved in the life of their community and the organizations and institutions they are members of. Many reasons were given, but the one that stood out in my mind was what they called compassion fatigue.
- this is a relatively new term in the American vocabulary
- those who suffer from it are saying, in essence: "I'm tired of repeated calls to do good."
- those who do volunteer to serve, find themselves overworked and usually under-appreciated
- they're often drained, exhausted and weary
- my first response is, "Hang in there!"
- Galatians 6:9-10 "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." KJV
A. CHRISTIANS MUST BE PROACTIVE SERVANTS
- what are the characteristics of an active servant?
- servants are not afraid of hard work
- ILLUS. Bob Moles and hospital visitation: "Ya know, this is hard work!"
- ministry is sometimes hot, dirty work
- sometimes it involves long hours
- sometimes it means working with people who are not like us
- ILLUS. If there is one earthly person who has taught me what it means to have a servant’s heart—it’s my mother-in-law, Madalene Orrick! The woman is a force of nature who hasn’t slowed down in the almost 40 years I’ve known her even though she’s battled two bouts of cancer.
- you don't have to beg them, or convince them or coerce them
- can that be said about you, or do you have to be prodded or persuaded?
- is your service active for a time, but then does it begin to fade when the glamor or notoriety wears off, and nobody notices what you're doing?
B. CHRISTIANS MUST BE AVAILABLE SERVANTS
- twice in chapter 10, Jesus is approached by people with needs
- in both cases, Jesus responded with, "What do you want me to do for you?"
- an available servant will always have this same question on the tip of their lips
- ILLUS. If God would ever advertize for workers in the local newspaper, can you imagine how the ad would read? Consider the following possibility: Kingdom workers needed immediately. Urgency of task and shortage of workers makes it mandatory that we expand our labor pool immediately. Recent resignations have left many openings. Frequent absenteeism will force us to make unwanted cutbacks in services unless we expand work force immediately. Ability not as essential as availability plus an excellent training manual is available. Training manual has been tried and proven over the past two thousands years. We hire regardless of sex, race or age. Diverse backgrounds welcome and even helpful. In the past we have used peasants and poets, kings and fig pickers, fishermen and doctors, harlots and queens, young lads and wise old men. Main qualifications: firm faith in Christ, a soft heart and a thick skin. Work not suitable for everyone. Must be able to withstand criticism of fellow workers and shirkers who often insist on their rights while ignoring their responsibilities.
C. CHRISTIANS MUST BE AUTHENTIC SERVANTS
- many people around us have never seen nor experienced genuine Christianity
- they've never been loved unconditionally
- they've never had someone do something for them without the expectation of some payback
- the world longs to see an authentic servant
- they long to see a Christian man or woman serve without expecting reward or recompense
- they long to see a Christian man or woman serve without having to be badgered into service, but who serves from a willing heart
- they long to hear a Christian man or woman say, "I care" and then prove it
What does the world see when it looks at you? Are you a faithful servant who serves out of a heart of love? I believe that Crowns are reserved for God's faithful servants.
Adoniram Judson, was a missionary who served in Burma. At one point in his ministry, he was arrested and falsely accused of being an enemy agent. Imprisoned in a tiny cell, he was forced to stand so others could lie down and sleep. The sun was unbearably hot, and since they were not allowed to bathe, the stench was horrible. One day the officials decided prison was not enough punishment for this infidel, so they hoisted Judson into the air by his thumbs. Pain filled every fiber of his body. During the night, Judson's wife, Anne, would come to the jail and whisper to him, "Hang on, Adoniram, God will give us the victory."
Week after torturous week, Anne would come by every night to encourage him with the same words, "Hang on, Adoniram, God will give us the victory." One night she did not come. The next night also passed without a sign of her returning.
Weeks went by and his loneliness grew to an unbearable level. No one told him that his wife was dying. Some months later, he was finally released. His body and health were broken. It was a miracle he could walk. He began to search for his wife, returning to the place where they used to live.
As he limped toward his home, he saw a child sitting in the dirt, a little girl so covered with filth that he failed to recognize her as his own daughter. He picked her up and staggered into the tent, his eyes squinting though the darkness. It was then he saw her, a bundle of bones and rags lying on a cot, so weak and frail that she looked like a skeleton. It was his wife. Her beautiful hair had fallen out and her bright blue eyes stared blankly into space. He knelt down and wept, calling her name over and over. His tears fell on her face and slowly her eyes began to move with recognition.
As she struggled to speak and her last words were, "Hang on, Adoniram, God will give us the victory." That day Adoniram Judson's lost his wife, but he did not his faith. He began to preach again, and soon was building churches. When he died, he left scores of churches and hundreds of Christian converts in that Muslim nation. He had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.
Adoniram Judson was little noticed in his day, but he served out of a heart of love, and he has received a crown of righteousness.