Happy, Happy, Happy
4 – Great, Great, Great: Serve, Serve, Serve
We are going to wrap up our “Happy, Happy, Happy” series tonight. It’s been our goal in this series to help you understand the difference between entitlement and contentment. Entitlement is so prevalent in the world you and I live in that we hardly notice it. In fact, it isn’t even looked at as a problem but a way of life. Entitlement says this world owes me something because of who I am or what I’ve done. I deserve to have this or be treated like this for no real reason other than because I said so.
Contentment, on the other hand, we said is a recognition that we really don’t deserve anything at all in this life. In fact, if we want to talk about what we deserve is really God’s wrath and His punishment for our sins. That is what we really deserve. But because God has given us His grace, the position of our hearts should be contentment. This is a divine joy and satisfaction with who we are and what we have.
So over the last few weeks we contrasted some views. Like the more I have the happier I will be. When in reality we must all learn to be content with enough. All of us have been blessed beyond what we could imagine. We also talked about how we are always going through life saying “mine” when in reality everything is His. God is just gracious to share with us.
Our theme verse for this series is found in Philippians 4:11, Paul writes, “for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” Pretty simple and straightforward isn’t it? That’s our goal too. We want to learn how to be content with whatever we have for that is truly were we find happiness.
Well, tonight I want us to look at this idea of being great – to make it to the top, to be #1. It’s something we all desire in some form or fashion. We want to be awesome and we want others to recognize us. We see this everywhere don’t we? I watched a good amount of college football yesterday and I noticed something about every fan no matter what team they were cheering for. Can you guess what number they were holding up? #1. There is only one #1 and we know who that is now (sorry – just had to get that in there). But seriously, no one holds up a #2. Everyone wants to be the greatest.
In 1715 King Louis XIV of France died after a reign of 72 years. He had called himself “the Great,” and was the monarch who made the famous statement, “I am the state!” His court was the most magnificent in Europe, and his funeral was equally spectacular. As his body lay in state in a golden coffin, orders were given that the cathedral should be very dimly lit with only a special candle set above his coffin, to dramatize his greatness. At the memorial, thousands waited in hushed silence. Then Bishop Massillon began to speak; slowly reaching down, he snuffed out the candle and said, “Only God is great.”
And you know why I think Duck Dynasty and the Robertson family has been able to handle the spotlight so well? Because they understand who #1 is and it isn’t them. They aren’t aspiring to greatness because they understand that only God is great. So how do we move from an I want to be great version of entitlement to contentment? Well the Bible has an answer for us: serve. Look with me at Mark 10:43-44, “But don’t act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave.”
That doesn’t make sense if you think about it. That isn’t what the world says. The world says if you want to be great then you are going to have to make yourself great. But here we have God saying, if you want to truly understand greatness and achieve greatness then you must be a servant. So in God’s way of thinking: to go up, we must learn to go down. If we want to really achieve greatness then we do it through serving. Because what we are learning when we serve is to be content. We are finding satisfaction and happiness through serving others and that is true greatness. So let’s look at some truths about serving tonight…
1. Serving is what you’ve been created for.
Romans 12:4-6 says “Just as each of us has one body with many members and these members do not have all the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others. We all have different gifts according to the grace God’s given us.”
I loved playing team sports growing up. I played soccer, basketball and swam competitively up through middle school. But something inside me was so competitive that I couldn’t stand it when I would play my best game and my team would still lose. So I grabbed a tennis racquet. It was like I was created for it. I started playing around 10 or 11 and by 15 I had been ranked as a junior in Florida and also started teaching as an Assistant Tennis Pro. I could channel that competitive spirit all in one direction and focus on one person. I didn’t give up on team sports, but I found a better fit for my personality and athletic makeup.
I’m trying to offer the same truth to you. You have been created for ministry. You have been created specifically for serving God. It’s also something more special. 1 Corinthians 12:18, “But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.”
The fact is you have a UNIQUE SHAPE no one else has. You haven’t just been created by accident but you’ve been specifically designed. The creator of the universe said, “This is what I want to do with that person.” From the cells of your hands and everything, your DNA has specifically been designed for you. You are an original masterpiece that no one else can copy. You can’t be duplicated by anything.
2. Serving gives your life meaning.
Matthew 16:25 says “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul. Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul.”
I don’t know what it is inside people, but we crave significance. We crave meaning. It’s like there’s a little hungry monster inside of us saying, “I need to be significant!” We need to wake up every morning and know what we’re doing is worthwhile. Nobody says, “I want to just waste my whole life!” People don’t do that. For some reason we want to be significant. We want to feel like we’re special. Really, if you’re not, if you have no meaning in your life, if you’ve had that feeling of insignificance, that feeling is so overwhelming and it brings you down so much.
You are significant. You are special. You are an original masterpiece that is like nobody else out there. God wants to use you. God created you for ministry. When you have meaning in your life, when you have significance, that’s the total opposite. You’re really empowered, you’re encouraged. Waking up to go do your stuff for the day is real easy when you have meaning in your life. What I’m offering you is when you serve in a ministry you have meaning for your life.
3. Serving allows God to work through you.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” For some reason, God, the creator of the universe, the God who made everything in six days and rested on the seventh, the guy who made mountains and streams and everything else, the guy who made everything, works through me. God works through you, even though you all are imperfect. It’s mind boggling.
For example, our student ministry… you see me up here a lot. You might think that I carry the ministry, or I do a lot of the ministry. That’s not right at all. There’s about a 25 leaders that are involved with our student ministry that cares for middle, high and college students. I’m just one out of a great student staff of people that are working to make this happen. On a sports team maybe there’s a star. In a ministry that doesn’t happen. God works through everybody. God uses everybody to accomplish his will. There are no heroes when it comes to serving in a ministry.
4. Serving builds up others.
If you’re going to meet needs with love, obviously that’s going to build up others. Ephesians 4:16,“From Jesus the whole body is joined and held together by every supporting ligament. It grows and builds itself up in love.” As each part does its work.” The body, when the parts are working together they build each other up. It’s really kind of amazing. I can learn from you and you can learn from me. No Christian is above learning from somebody else. The Christian who’s been a believer for five days and the Christian who’s been a believer for 40 years, the 40-year-old guy can still learn something from the five-day-old Christian. God uses us to build each other up and to minister to one another.
5. Serving is the essence of Christian greatness.
Matthew 20:26-28, “Whoever wants to be great among you must become your servant. Whoever wants to be first must be your slave. Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” It’s really simple. If you want to be great, if you want to have respect, be a servant. It’s a law of nature. It’s a law of the way things work.
It’s like gravity. We all understand gravity. If you jump off a building, you’re probably going to fall and probably break some legs. That’s gravity. We all know the law of gravity and obey it. The law of greatness is the same. If you want to be great, you serve. If you want to be great you’ve got to meet the needs of other people. For some reason I’m really good about obeying gravity. Like, I don’t go to high places and I don’t tight rope walk or go up on a building to base jump. Why? I’m really smart about gravity. I wish I were smart about the law of greatness. I wish I were smarter about being a good servant.
Here’s some action steps
In many ways this is my favorite part because it’s real practical… how to serve others. Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.’” I’ve taken the three main parts of that – Deny yourself, Pick up your cross, Follow Christ – and I’ve translated that today and made that into action steps.
1. Focus on the needs of others.
If you’re going to deny yourself, then you’re going to focus on the needs of others. Your focus can really be only one of two places. You can be looking at yourself or you can be looking at Christ to see other people. You can be looking at your own needs or looking at the needs of others.
I’m not saying that we don’t have our own needs and “I’m not going to breathe because I’m taking oxygen away from other people.” That would be foolish and pretty dumb. What I am saying is our focus should be on the needs of other people. If ministry means meeting needs with love then your eyes have to be open to see those needs.
2. Pick up your cross – discover how to serve.
Jesus came and He had a purpose in life. He came and He knew what He was here to do. The main thing He was here to do was to die. He picked up his cross and He died on it. We need to do the same thing. It doesn’t mean that we’re to pick up our cross literally and die – that’s not what He’s saying. He’s saying that you need to find and discover your own mission. What God has called you to do is different than what Christ was called to do, but you still have a calling. You’ve still been called to a ministry. You need to discover your ministry. You need to experiment. We’d love to get you involved. Pick a ministry and go for it. It’s not like the first one you choose you have to do for the rest of your life. No… experiment. Try things out. See what you like. See what you think God wants you to do. We want to help you do something with your faith, to do ministry.
3. Follow Christ – make Jesus your example.
Jesus was the grand master of ministry. And it’s all worthless if you’re not going to do ministry modeled after him. After all He is the one we are living for. He’s the one we are living to make famous because He is the only one worthy.
It’s been my hope and prayer in this series that you’ve grown to understand that happiness doesn’t often come from where we think. We think it’s in all the stuff we have, how much money we have, how famous we can become. But Jesus says, true happiness is found in contentment. So by His grace we can move from a position of entitlement to one of contentment. I think that’s especially important this Advent season. A time when the true message of contentment is lost in the commercialism. Make it your prayer that won’t happen to you this season and you’ll really be happy, happy, happy
to think about:
– Where in your life do you find that you strive most for greatness?
– How does understand serving (being a slave) actually help us achieve greatness?
– Why do you think we can find the most happiness through serving others?
– What are some ways you can look to serve even this week?