Core Value 2: Compassionate Hearts
This is the text of my teaching on Sunday, October 9. It is based on a Philippians 2:1-11.
This is our second week looking at the core values of the Cornerstone church. Core values are like the operating system in your phone. We just pull out our phones and they work - take a photo, weather app, Facebook, etc. Inside the chip in the phone is an operating system made up of millions of instructions. You can't see those lines of code, but they make everything work. It’s the same thing in the church. What makes everything work in the church are these six values. They tell us what to do, guiding our decisions, shaping our programs.
Today's core value is called COMPASSIONATE HEARTS. At the heart of the church is a culture of service. You could say that “ministry” is written into our operating system. Ministry is just another Bible word for service. We don't have an elite group of "ministers." We are all ministers - we can all serve.
You will never be more like Jesus Christ than when you help someone else. Author Rick Warren wrote, "You were shaped for serving God." Then he wrote: "We are healed to help others. We are blessed to be a blessing. We are saved to serve, not to sit around and wait for heaven." - Purpose Driven Life.
I believe that a serving life is your best life. It is the key to a fully satisfying, no regrets, meaningful life.
Our passage for study is Philippians 2:1-11. We’ll focus especially on verses 3-4. The context is Paul’s instructions to the first-century church in Philippi on how to be a strong, united, healthy church or Christ-follower. The passage teaches us two things. To be a strong, healthy church/Christian:
Form a ministry-mindset.
Follow a ministry-model.
A. FORM A MINISTRY-MINDSET - verses 3-4.
"In humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests (ONLY) but each of you to the interests of the others.”
The ministry mindset is this: put people and their needs first.
We always face a choice. We can think: I am here for me. It's all about me. Look at me. Feed me. Love me. Give me what I want. Me, me, me. I. I. I. Like a baby bird. Our we can think: I am here for you. What are you going thru? What do you need? What can I do for you? Why has the Lord brought you into my life today?
A good analogy for a ministry mindset is a good waiter in a restaurant. We were in Applebees last Monday for a meeting. The server was THE most attentive person I have ever met. Helped with ... refilled ... made everyone feel like the center of attention. Interestingly, the Bible word for minister is the word that wasted originally in the Greek language for "a waiter of tables."
The Bible calls this attitude of service, humility. It's a way of thinking that puts others first. Humility values people and puts their interests above our own.
Let me tell you something: You've never met a worthless person. The Bible teaches us that people are made by God, in the image of God, for the plan of God and they are precious to God. That's why we serve. And that's why Jesus stretched out his hand to touch and heal a man with a terrible skin disease (Matthew 8).
Our goal is this: as we grow in maturity, we will use more of our resources (such as time, energy, love, compassion, money, skills, experience, talents, and education) to serve others.
B. FOLLOW A MINISTRY MODEL - verses 5-11.
Serving doesn't come easy, but having a role model or mentor can make it easier. The greatest model of the ministry mindset is Jesus Christ. He said:
"I am among you as one who serves." - Luke 22: 27.
"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many." - Matthew 20:28. Jesus came to serve and to give.
Verses 5-11 describe Jesus the servant. This is the model to follow:
He was self-emptying. He was God, but he did not hold onto his rights and privileges, his glory and honor as God. He hid his glory so that he could be with us.
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing …”
He was self-giving. He was God, but he became a man - the God-man. He chose to experience our weakness, our hurts, our needs, and our temptations. He became a humble, poor, servant. He descended to our level so he could serve us.
“… by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man …”
He was self-sacrificing. He wore our sin on the cross. He died there in our place. He paid the price of sin that we should have paid but could not. He took God's justice and anger away from everyone who will turn to him in faith. All so that he could meet our deepest need.
“… he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”
The way of Christ is to serve and to give. That's why we've made serving a core value here are the Cornerstone. Jesus shows us that God gets his work done in the world by humble, ministry-minded people. Not by the high and mighty, but by the meek and lowly. God is looking for people who empty themselves, give of themselves, and sacrifice themselves. He uses such people to change the world.
Have you ever noticed what happens in a pond without an outlet for the water to flow out? It grows smelly and stagnant. All the fish and critters die. Ugly pond! That's what happens to a church and to a Christ-follower who keeps on getting from God without giving it away. Stagnation!
But mature Christians aren’t that way. Instead of saying, "Who's going to meet my needs," they say, "Who's needs can I meet?” Servants give out what God puts in. There's a constant overflow.
This week, find a quiet place and take some time out to ask the Lord: "Where and how do you want me to serve." I think he'll answer that prayer - he'll break your heart with a need, he'll elevate your blood pressure with an injustice, he'll stir your insides up with some situation AND you will HAVE to do something about it.
The Cornerstone has always had a compassionate heart. We have always valued service inside and outside the church and in the community and even in other nations. We have built homes and churches. We have offered medical care and worked on hurricane relief teams. We have served in soccer leagues and elementary schools. We have helped street kids and nursing home residents. We love single parents and we adopt orphans. We help the weak, the poor, the vulnerable.
Consider making this servant’s affirmation: "I am blessed to be a blessing. I am saved to serve. I'm not living for myself. I'm living for others. With the Lord's help I can make a difference in the church and in the world. Therefore, I will live a grateful, generous, serving life for the good of humanity and the glory of God."