Faithlife Sermons

Stewardship Of Ministry

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God expects us to be good stewards of the gifts he has given us by actively serving.

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What if?

I want to ask you this morning to think with me regarding some what if’s…to consider the consequences of “if this were true” then...
…someone offered you $35,000 to forgo all personal hygiene efforts for 3 months...
…your tongue said EVERY thought that popped into your brain...
…your feet decided one would go and the other stay put...
…your ears no longer wanted to listen and demanded to become eyeballs...
I know this may sound a little science fiction, but what if we didn’t have bodies and just all floated around like some ethereal protoplasm…how important is it for us to have bodies?
Probably many of us here this morning have never stopped to consider that question before…not existing without a body has ever crossed your mind,
let’s take it a step further…having an arm, leg, foot, eyeball, ear, etc. just floating around beside you without being attached to your body just doesn’t make sense does it? Yet many believers, perhaps even some of you are doing just that…you are an arm, or a leg, or an eye, etc. just floating around not being attached to a body...
When God wanted to help His people understand what it means to be part of the church, one of the metaphors He used was that of the body.
…when you as a believer refuse to join in and take an active role in the ministry..

When you do not employ the gifts and abilities He gives you to help the body grow strong and healthy, you have detached yourself from the body and that body will not be as strong or as healthy as it should be.

God wants us to look at each other, and think about each other, and organize ourselves as just like a body, where each part of the body is attached where they belong and functions together...and when people in churches understand that, they can be incredibly effective!
Ephesians 4:15–16 NASB95
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
did you notice the emphasis on the importance of everybody being involved?...not 90% of the work being done by 10% of the people...or the church organized around a few superstars…in every church (including this one) there exists floating body parts…parts that just hang around wanting the benefits of the body, but without being fully engaged with the body...
...one of at least three bad results is occurring...
either resources are being left of the table...parts of the body are not being used and therefore spiritual gifts are being wasted...
or, the body is not nearly as effective as it could potentially be...
or, some body parts are being overworked and maybe even damaged because they are trying to carry more weight and responsibility than they were ever designed to carry...
the question that every church family has to face is ...are we functioning like a healthy body should?...and what steps do we need to take to get to a better place in the days ahead?....
with those questions in mind, please open your Bible to I Corinthians chapter 12..
we’re talking this morning about The Stewardship of Ministry...
How do we get to the place where every person in the body is functioning the way God designed?
while you’re turning there, let’s bring everyone up to speed...

Biblical Stewardship

Last week we kicked off our plan for February to be Stewardship month...
the word steward was used in the Bible to describe a faithful servant who was appointed to be in authority over a certain portion of a master’s household while he was away on a journey...
so the steward might have been in charge of the vineyard...or he might have been in charge of the farm, or some other aspect of the household...
but it was a position of trust, honor, and accountability...
This is also the very word God uses to describe people who have chosen to become followers of Christ...
1 Corinthians 4:2 NASB95
In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.
so we want to take this time and think about many of the things that God has entrusted to us...what He has given to us...and whether we are being faithful to the trust…whether we like or not…God says we ARE stewards!
So we need to evaluate our lives, we need to consider our commitments...to think about the choices we are going to make in the days ahead to grow in our faithfulness to what God has given...
This morning we want to think about the stewardship of ministry because we need to understand that...

God has given every believer a unique set of spiritual gifts to use for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.

so we must learn to steward them well…lets remind ourselves of the four key principles of stewardship...
1. God owns everything, you own nothing.
2. God entrusts you with everything you have.
3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given you; God wants you to increase it.
4. You can be called into account at any time, and it may be today.

You Must Be Involved in Ministry!

God never intended for his people to exist as some detached body part that doesn’t contribute to the growth and health of body in a positive way...This is called being a wise steward of your spiritual gifts...
What are you doing with the gifts and abilities that God has given you?…what are you doing to be attached to the body...
read I Corinthians 12:12-27
let’s look for 3 ways we can be better attached to the body as good stewards of the spiritual gifts God has given.

The Wise Steward of Ministry Appreciates the Unity of the Body – vs. 12-13.

all of chapters 12-14 are focused on the matter of handling the gifts that God has given us well…there needs to be an understanding of the purpose of those gifts...
1 Corinthians 12:7 NASB95
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
already mentioned Ephesians 4:15-16...
1 Peter 4:10 NASB95
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
There it is folks…each one is to employ their gift to serve one another as good stewards of God’s grace...
1 Cor. 12:12-13 really focus in on the unity aspect of all of this...and the argument starts with something that is very apparent to all of us...

Our bodies are amazing because of how every part works together.

for example, your fingers...by itself, it is impressive...but what takes the discussion to an entirely different place is the fact that your finger is connected to your brain...and your brain tells it to work...or your finger can work in concert with your hands...
when you were coming in this morning, your fingers were working, along with your feet, and your eyes, and your mouth...all the parts simultaneously working together is a beautiful thing...
now, look at the end of verse 12 ...1 Corinthians 12:12 - For even as the [physical] body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

Jesus demonstrated His appreciation for the importance of the unity of the body in His ministry.

in other words, Jesus was not a lone ranger...even though He certainly could have been had He wanted to...how is that true?...how did Jesus show that he valued working with a team of people, or a body of people, in order to accomplish His mission?...
He purposely chose to work with disciples…he called them his friends.
He purposely chooses to identify with us.
He purposely chooses to identify Himself with those to whom we minister.
If you examine Romans 6-8, what you will find is that the doctrine of our union with Christ explains that these spiritual gifts that we have been given are especially powerful because they are used in unity with Him.
That’s why Jesus says...
John 15:5 NASB95
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
we don’t bear much fruit as individual parts...we bear much fruit in union with Him...as part of the body...

The reason some persons are not being very effective for God is because they have not found a way to connect their spiritual gift to a body for which it was intended to be used.

Thinking about Jesus identifying with those to whom we minister...do you remember what He said about what happens when we love children, probably in that context speaking of new believers?...
Matthew 18:5 NASB95
“And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;
He made the same point later in Matthew 25...when He was speaking about rewarding those who had given Him something to eat when he was hungry, or something to drink when He was thirsty, or invited Him in when he was a stranger, etc...
And the people said – when did we ever do that for you?...what was His response?...
Matthew 25:40 NASB95
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
so here’s the point---just like the individual parts of our physical bodies illustrate the importance of being united...also is Christ...
Jesus has chosen to organize His ministry then and now around the important principle of appreciating unity.
now, how does verse 13 fit into this?...

The Holy Spirit also delights in unifying an unlikely group of people.

I realize that we sometimes get used to reading certain phrases in the Bible and they don’t grip us like they would have done for the original audience... but the notions of Jews and Gentiles being united in the same church...or slaves and free persons united in the same church...that was nothing short of miraculous...
so what does that mean to you?...if you know Christ as Savior and Lord...there is no question that God has entrusted to you at least one spiritual gift…I remind you of 1 Peter 4:10
1 Peter 4:10 NASB95
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
time doesn’t allow us today to talk about what those various gifts are, etc...
but the point here is...just like physically we can emphasize the importance of the unity of the body...and just as Christ and the Holy Spirit emphasize the importance of the unity of the body...

You and I have to look at what God has entrusted to us and consider what we are doing to contribute to the importance of unity.

...is there evidence that you/we value the unity of the body?...that you/we understand that our gifts are used best in concert with the giftedness of others in the church?
now, Paul anticipated that some of the people in the Corinthian church would struggle with this concept...so he developed it more fully in the next verses...

The Wise Steward of Ministry Appreciates the Diversity of the Body – vs. 14-25

that’s the point of the transition in verse 14...as soon as we get the unity piece, we have to give equal attention to the diversity piece...
and the point made in verses 14-20 is...

Your spiritual gift is needed by the body.

Paul is using humor to get the attention of these people...thought that your foot would actually say...because I’m not a hand, I’m not a part of the body...or your ear saying, because I’m not an eye, I’m not a part of the body...
what’s the point of that...

Just because you have concluded that your gift is not needed does not make that conclusion true.

{If possible show clip of Tim Conway Dentist sketch}
Has your foot ever gone to sleep?...we’ve probably all had that experience...”I’m not coming on this trip”...how well does that work?...look Mr. Foot, you’re coming, because you’re part of the deal whether you think you’re needed or not...
now, let’s make this a little harder?...why might a person have drawn this conclusion?...
- the answers are not all that pretty...
Beware of envy.
well, if I can’t do that, I’m not going to do anything.
do you remember what James said about that?...James 3:16 - For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
the problem with many of the people in the Corinthian church was that they were coveting the showy gifts...the ones that drew attention...
the vast majority of what is meaningfully accomplished in a church is seldom noticed or acknowledged in any kind of public way...it is just faithful people using what God has entrusted to them...
Beware of laziness

You’ll never become a faithful steward of ministry unless you get to the place where you like to work for God.

that is why Paul told the Colossians... Colossians 3:23-24 - Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
[deal with the objection – but I thought that’s why we hired pastors, so they would do the work of the ministry --- I thought we were just passive spectators here to see the show...]

We should all want to become an Ephesians 4 type of church…members are being challenged to serve God and it is expected that every member is serving!

Some of the questions I’m raising this morning is, do you agree with that and what are you doing to show you agree with that?
now, what about the person who would say...I don’t like my gift...some would say---I want a different one...or others would say --- I don’t mind this one, but I want it to be better...if I have to have this one, or if I have to have this one in such a meager amount, I’m not going to serve in Christ’s church at all...
- friend, be very careful about that...because keep in mind...

Your spiritual gift was given to you by God Himself.

hasn’t that been the constant emphasis?...
1 Corinthians 12:11 - But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
1 Corinthians 12:18 - But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
what you do with the gift you’ve been given says a lot about what you think of the person who gave it...now, the argument changes in verse 21, doesn’t it?...
read v. 21 again...
- that’s the other side of the coin...

The gifts God has given others are needed by the body.

the point is – an eye without a hand is in serious trouble...or a head without some feet is going to have a real problem...
and what’s the upshot of that?...
We should work at showing appreciation for others who serve, especially in the less noticeable ways.
We should be open to the distinct possibility that God may bring others into our church family who are different because we need them.
when’s the last time you thanked your nursery worker...
if a church isn’t careful, a church can start looking alike...
Dream Team — So far only 1 person has said they --- sometimes the best ministry ideas come from the least likely sources...]

The Wise Steward of Ministry Appreciates the Joy of Serving on the Team Together – vs. 26-27

deal with how a unified body, serving together, rallies around a part of the body who is suffering...and who rejoices when one is honored...

Wide Open Door for Service

Nursery Workers
Children’s Ministry Workers
Sunday School Teachers
Missions Team
Tech Team
Marketing Team
Facilities Team
Outreach Team
Dream Team
Ushers/Greeters
These are just some of the needs...we’re asking you to consider your stewardship of the gifts and abilities that God has given you...
and we understand that some folks in our church are fully deployed...there’s no question about that...but it is possible that a number of folks would say...one of the commitments I need to make is a decision to at least learn more about one of these serving opportunities...

Faithful Stewards of Ministry are not content being detached from the body, they want to contribute to the growth and health of the body by being used by God in whatever position He designed for them.

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