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1001 Illustrations that Connect Illustration 388: Dying in the Service

One Sunday morning, little Alex stared at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The seven-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so Pastor McGhee walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, “Good morning, Alex.”

“Good morning,” said the boy, still absorbed in the plaque. “Pastor McGhee, what is this?”

“Well, son, all of these people have died in the service,” the pastor said.

Soberly they stood together, staring at the large plaque.

Then little Alex asked quietly, “Which one, the 9:00 or the 10:30 service?”

Tonight we are going to talk about Service, though not necessarily worship service, I just liked that joke.
Service is defined as the act of helping or doing work for someone.
And as such serving others, helping others, working in the best interest of others is something that Christians are called to do because that was what Christ came to do.
I bet we all recall the verse that states:
Matthew 20:28 ESV
28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
But do you know what even lead to up to that statement?
The mother of James and John the sons of Zebedee approaches Jesus and asks him for something.
Matthew 20:20–28 ESV
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20.20-
Jesus made it clear to everyone that the kingdom of which he was the king was different from any other kingdom the world had ever seen.
This kingdom was a kingdom full of servants! Why? Because the king himself came to serve and He set for us the ultimate example of humility and service that we ought to strive always to achieve.
He told his disciples on multiple occasions “A Servant is not greater than his master.” Therefore whatever Jesus humbled himself to do in service of others, we have no excuse to think ourselves too good to do ourselves.
Jesus repeatedly tried to convey this message to his disciples, and even with the pain and agony of his crucifixion on the horizon he takes time before the passover meal, lays aside his outer garments, ties a towel around his wast and washed his disciples feet. Now this was a task for someone of much lower status than Jesus, I mean he was there teacher, their Lord, and we see Peter convey this idea of shock when he said in “You shall never wash my feet!”
John 13:8–9 ESV
8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
John 13:
After he had finished he said to them
John 13:12–17 ESV
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
John 13:12-
So because Christ served, a Christian must serve!
And I don’t think it’s any surprise the way that we do that. We do that which Jesus did. We show compassion, we show mercy, we proclaim God’s word, we feed the hungry, care for the sick and the poor and the imprisoned, we bless when reviled, we pray when persecuted, Christian service manifests itself in all kinds of selfless ways.
But I’ve committed to looking tonight at what the parables of Christ teach us regarding our Christian Service, and because there are so many relating to a king and his servants, I couldn’t possibly choose just one, so we will look quickly at three tonight.

Christian Service Requires Growth

Matthew 25:14–30 ESV
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
5 talents -> 5 more
Mat 25.14-
2 talents -> 2 more
1 talent -> nothing.
Now it’s important to note here that I’m not saying Christian service requires financial growth, what is in view here is what we talked about this morning, Spiritual Growth.
The message of this parable is that
We will be held accountable for our unwillingness to grow into what he knows we can become, whatever reason that might be. Whatever excuse we might want to use, whether it’s fear, or busyness, or lack of faith, Jesus just calls it flat out wickedness and slothfulness.
Our Christian Service may start out small, but ideally it should grow into maturity.
I wanted to use this illustration this morning so I’ll use it now:
John Maxwell in his book Developing the Leader within you tells a story of a group of tourists visiting a beautiful village when they came upon an old man sitting on a bench. One of the tourists asked the man, “Were any great men born in this village?” To which the old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”
Everyone of us as christians start off life in God’s service as babes in Christ. There is nothing wrong with that, but it becomes a tragedy if after 15, 30, 50 years a person remains a babe in the kingdom of God.
Living a life of Christian service requires Growth.

Christian Service Requires Readiness

Luke 12:35–40 ESV
35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll never stop saying it, Christianity does not come with vacations, sabbaticals, or a retirement package.
Luke 12.35-
We will never out serve christ, even if we could live 10,000 life times, therefore it is our duty to serve our king until we draw our last breath and be ever ready to provide that service which we know Christ would provide were he still walking the Earth today.
We are after all the body of Christ are we not? Should we not then be ever ready to respond at a moments notice?
James answers this nicely in
James 2:14–16 ESV
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
What good is it to tell a person without a home

Christian Service Requires Willingness to Work

Matthew 20:1–16 ESV
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Notice in this parable that whenever the laborers were called, whether it was
8 AM - 9 AM - Noon - or 5 PM, all those who were called were willing to work
Now I realize that isn’t the overall point of this parable, but the truth remains that only those that worked were rewarded, a theme that is consistent across all the servant parables of Jesus.
The overall point of this particular parable though leads nicely into our final point, and that is

Christian Service Requires Steadfast Humility

Luke 17:7-
Luke 17:7–10 ESV
7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ”
Whatever we might do in service to our King Jesus Christ, our attitude ought to be that of nothing we ever do will ever compare to what Christ did for us on the cross.
As we talked about last week with the servant who was forgiven 10,000 talents, the level of gratitude and the knowledge of the forgiven debt ought to have humbled him into constant thankfullness and joy and caused him to serve his master with a greater zeal and ferver than ever before.
That too is how we should serve in Christs kingdom. Whatever we do, however great others might think of us, we must always have at the forefront of our minds that we are unworthy servants and that even in our best service, we’ve done only what was our duty.
So the question then tonight is, how does our service stack up?
Are we growing spiritually? Are we laboring with readiness? Are we humbly submitting ourselves as servants to our king who served better than we can ever hope?
If not, we need to change and no one is better at the people changing business than God.
Perhaps you are here tonight and you are ready for that change, You are tired of serving koplkjlkkjjkllk
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