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I Believe In Serving Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
April 17, 2023 1:00 am

I Believe In Serving Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 17, 2023 1:00 am

People count greatness by power, possessions, or charisma. Jesus displayed it by taking a towel and washing feet like a slave might have done in Bible times. In this message, we look at Jesus’ example of greatness through three observations on servanthood. What would happen if our church members wholly embraced service?

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Moody Church Hour
Erwin Lutzer
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. In general, human nature runs counter to the ways of God.

We count greatness by power, possessions, and charisma. Jesus displayed it by taking a towel and washing some feet like a slave might have done in Bible times. Today, meeting needs as the way to greatness in God's eyes. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, people never forget acts of kindness when we serve them. This can open many hearts to the gospel. You know, Dave, in the book I've written entitled Holy Living in an Unholy World, I discuss that specifically. And I point out that the best way to witness actually is through hospitality, through deeds of kindness. We'd like to do it with mass media. But there are millions of people who will not listen to the gospel on radio or television or on the internet.

Of course, we use all of those methods. But at the end of the day, what really touches people's hearts is kindness. It's that commitment to their need.

It's doing something special for them. Now, for a gift of any amount, this book, by the way, can be yours. It's entitled, as I mentioned, Holy Living in an Unholy World. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let us all be humbled as we remember being a servant is great in the eyes of God. Well we've spoken about the quest for greatness.

Now let's look at the mark of greatness. Notice Jesus said, he called them together and he said, look, let's huddle you guys because there's something we have to get straight. You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first, go ahead, be first, you must become the slave of all. What Jesus is saying is worldly people, they do all that they possibly can to be in authority. They want to control and when they control, they hang onto their positions until their knuckles turn white.

There's nothing that they are going to do to let go of that. They will say to themselves, I want to be numero uno. Lucy tried to teach me that this morning and so I thought I'd try it on. I want to rule by intimidation. I want to try to take charge and I will stay here and if you become a threat to me, I will destroy you. I will destroy you through gossip. I will destroy you by planting seeds of doubt in other people's mind about you.

I will do all that I possibly can to keep you underneath me. I'm not talking merely about kings and presidents and the like. I'm speaking about people with whom you work, not people with whom I work because I work here at the church.

We don't have anything like that. And what Jesus is saying is that the people of the world, they believe that the more people who serve you, that that is greatness, but the opposite must be true, that the more people whom you serve is really the mark of greatness. And so you have people in the world who climb the ladder of success wrong by wrong.

They will get ahead honestly if they can, dishonestly if they must, but get ahead they will. Jesus says it's not to be that way among you. As a matter of fact, among you it should be entirely different. What you must do is to learn to serve if you wish to be great. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be great. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be first, but please understand how God defines it within the context of his kingdom. Now you asked, well, can a person run for a political office and be a committed Christian?

The answer is yes. Jesus is not saying that there should be no rulers, but what he's saying is most of them are there for their own good no matter how often they talk about being for the good of the people. But there is such a thing as servant leadership. There is such a thing as God leading certain people to rule for the best of the community and for the best view and values that he himself as God espouses.

But oftentimes, you know that old expression that says power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There's something within us that says we want to be first. We want our names engraved there. So that's the badge of greatness.

It is service. Ruth Harms Cockin wrote these wonderful words. You know, Lord, how I serve you with great emotional fervor in the limelight. You know how I eagerly speak for you at women's clubs. You know how I effervesce when I promote fellowship groups. You know my genuine enthusiasm at Bible study.

But how would I react? I wonder if you pointed to a basin of water and asked me to wash the calloused feet of a bent and wrinkled old woman day after day, month after month in a room where nobody saw and nobody knew. Jesus said you want to be great. You be a servant.

Now let's look at the example of greatness. This is verse 45. Jesus says these words for even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Jesus said I didn't come to this earth to have people run errands for me. I didn't come to this earth as some great potentate and expect all of my servants to grovel before me. I did not come to this earth to bark out orders expecting people to jump. I did not come taking advantage of my awesome power as God, a very God. I did not do that.

I could have but I didn't. I came to serve and the way in which I served is I gave my life for the many. Instead of the many I gave them as a ransom. What he means is I gave myself as a payment so that people could be redeemed and that's the way in which I served them. Now you think of all that that involved.

You think of the cross. You think of the fact that he came to die for us and suffer so pointedly and so directly and what Jesus Christ is doing is he's saying you know use me as your example and that payment that he made was a payment made to God the Father not to Satan. He ransomed. He bought us out out of the slave market of sin.

He paid the penalty. So I have to say this because I may not have an opportunity to do that in the rest of this message. Very briefly if you are here today and you do not know God and you do not know Christ as your savior that ransom then is of no value for you. He said I did it for the many so that we can be saved. He died so that we could be saved on the basis of his merit and that's how we have assurance that we're going to get to heaven. He died for us on our behalf and he says that's the standard and that is the lesson to be learned.

Well we've hurried through the text but what I'd like to do is to give you some life-changing lessons that I think Jesus would want us to know today and apply them to ourselves and to our church. Number one, and this is such good news, anyone can be great. Anyone can be great. Isn't it amazing you don't need money to be great? You don't need fame to be great?

You don't have to be written up in the newspapers to be great? All that you need to do is to serve and in the process of serving you become great because the kingdom inverts all of our values. It is a pyramid that is stood on its head, so to speak, where Jesus is saying that we can be great to serve. One day someone asked Lorne Sani of the Navigators, back when he was president of the Navigators, they said how do you know when you are a servant? And he said you'll know that you have the heart of a servant by the way in which you respond when you are treated like one. You see, in order for us to become servants there has to be a death to self, there has to be a dying to worldly ambition. There is a place, I believe, in the Christian life where we can be ambitious for God, but oftentimes that spills over very very easily into being ambitious for ourselves and as a result we have this drive for power, this drive for significance, and we're finding our significance in all the wrong ways and in the wrong places. And so Jesus said, number one, anyone can become great. And you can become great by serving in obscurity in a place like the poem I just read where nobody sees and where nobody knows. And those kinds of acts are most precious to God.

Let me give you a second observation. Servants see needs and meet them. They see needs and meet them. That's what servants do. Jesus saw our need and came and died for us.

Listen very carefully. If it is service that makes a person great, and Jesus said it's okay to want to be first, it's okay to want to be great. But if it is service that makes a person great, then it is really service that makes a church great. It is not simply coming to the morning worship services. It is not simply being involved in perhaps your own little world, though we can certainly serve the Lord Jesus Christ on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but it is a sacrificial attitude of service within the context of God's people and God's ministries. This morning, if you were here for the opening, you know that we are beginning an awesome, ambitious ministry of the Sidewalk Sunday School.

And as we learned, we need hundreds of people to be involved this summer, hundreds of people to give up part of their Saturdays and perhaps an occasional meeting through the week. And we don't know where those people are. All that we're doing is we're praying that God would bring them to us.

Why? Because he that would be first among you, let him be the servant of all. Those who are willing to expend themselves on the part of others, that, says Jesus, is greatness.

We have to think about that a little bit because its implications are far reaching for every one of us, particularly those of us who have public ministries. I think, for example, of the Phillip teams, you know, we have greeters and we have parkers and those who are helping in the ministry. Now that's only a small slice, but what we're looking for is people who are willing to say, I see a need and I can connect the need with my own particular gift. Now I could have preached on gifts today. I chose not to because all of us are gifted. The Bible says that each of us has a gift from God. As a matter of fact, all gifts have the same source. They come from God, and they are given for the same purpose, the common good, said Jesus.

And as a result of that, we fit somewhere in the body. Now I know there are some of you who, because of geographical reasons or other reasons, find it difficult to get involved, but I just want you to know this. That as you look at the book of Acts and as you look at thriving churches, what you find is this sense of commitment and involvement and sacrifice and a willing to investigate and a willingness to help us to help you to know where you fit so that we can be a serving church. Sometimes you'll get credit for it, sometimes you won't.

Probably most of the time you won't. Nobody will know about it, but what a difference it makes. This past week I read a story about a man who had been so angry with the church, he never attended church. He said all that they want is my money, all that they want is they want to save me so that I can be another statistic and he had a deep bitterness in his heart, but as he was dying of cancer and was 75 pounds, when he was unable to speak and he looked at all of the flowers that were there in the hospital room and he saw all of the cards that the people of the church had sent him and he saw all of the outpouring of love, he took a pen and wrote on a Kleenex box with his daughter present, I was wrong.

My dear friend, there are a lot of people out there, we have to prove her wrong. They have conceptions of us that aren't true. They think that all that we want is numbers or all that we want is them for this or that and they don't understand that we really do want to love, we really do want to serve, we want to really represent Jesus well in this community as we frequently say in this church because we understand that even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many and he said that's the standard, that's the way you evaluate service, be first but be first to be a servant and then you will be great in the kingdom. There's a third lesson and the third lesson is this, that those who serve are the ones who rule, those who serve are the ones who rule. You say well thankfully Jesus served when he was here on this earth but now that he's in heaven sitting on his throne and now that we are going to get to reign with him, no more of this service anymore.

That's what I would think. You know some of you may struggle with whether or not the Bible is the word of God. That's okay to struggle with it as long as you keep reading it but I'll tell you something, there's no way that anybody would make this stuff up. There is absolutely no way that anybody would come up with what is in the Bible unless it were inspired by God because there's a passage in the book of Luke that says this, it says be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door to him. They're just talking about the second coming of Jesus Christ. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth that he, the master, that is Jesus, will dress himself to serve and will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them and I say God I cannot, I cannot believe it.

I believe it but there's a part of me that says how can this be? Do you realize what it's saying? That when you and I are in the kingdom, Jesus is going to say well you know you had a hard time on earth, you lived in the city, Moody Church wasn't all that you thought it was, you went through a lot of heartache, people around you died, you went through a lot of suffering, you know it's time for you to just relax, you recline and I'm going to put on my garments and take a towel and I'm going to serve you at the dinner. Jesus doing that. And some of us will walk out of this church today without ever having really genuinely sacrificed for anyone in the last month or two and Jesus said I'll serve you. That service does not even end in the coming kingdom. I was thinking to myself what would happen if everyone who is a member and a tender of Moody Church honestly and truly began to take upon themselves the role of the servant. I'm talking about beginning with myself and the staff and the elders and the leadership and then all the way down. Can you imagine the number of lives that would be touched if every one of us were to say I want to touch two or three lives by service significantly, significantly sacrificially this year.

Two or three. Some can do a half dozen, some can do ten, some who are involved in children's ministry is going to do it for hundreds but what if we all began to say when I see a need I'm going to meet it. If there's someone in the hospital I'm going to visit them or write them or give them a card. If I see a specific financial need I'm going to help. I'm going to look for opportunities to serve.

Yes, those who serve are the ones who rule. A.E. Whittom has an imaginary report on a visit to the New Jerusalem. He says, in my wandering I came upon the museum in the city of our dreams.

I went in and the attendant conducted me around. There was some old armor there much bruised with battle. Many things were conspicuous by their absence. I saw nothing of Alexander's or of Napoleon's.

There was no Pope's ring, not even the ink bottle that Luther is said to have thrown at the devil. I saw a widow's mite and a feather of a little bird. I saw some swaddling clothes, a hammer, three nails and a few thorns. I saw a sponge that at one time had been dipped in vinegar and I saw a small piece of silver. And while I was turning over a simple drinking cup which had an honorable place, you know Jesus did say that if you give a cup of cold water in my name you'll not lose your reward. While I saw this cup which had an honorable place I whispered to the attendant, do you have a towel and a basin among your collection?

And he said no because they're still in constant use. Jesus said look why don't you relinquish your desire for power? If God gives it to you, fine, but don't worry about the people at work who are trying to undermine you.

Don't worry about the people who would like to try to do something to cut you down. The scripture says, seekest thou great things for thyself? Don't seek them.

Don't seek them. Seek them not, God says to Jeremiah. If God wants to give you great things, let God give you great things. Be released from that hassle because he who would be first, he who would rule, let him serve because even the Son of Man, Jesus said, did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. And Jesus is saying, please, please use me as your standard and example.

Let's pray. Our Father today we do want to thank you that Jesus came to give us an example of greatness. We thank you that even in the kingdom, though we do not understand it, he shall gird a towel and ask us to recline at the table and come and serve. Oh, Father, today break us down from our selfish, narrow lives and make us a church that flourishes with good deeds and sacrificial service. We pray today, Father, in those needs that are represented, some of which we've referred to, grant, oh God, many to come our way and to say whatever it takes, whatever the cost, I'm here to serve.

Do that, Lord. Unleash the power of your church by becoming great through service. In Jesus' name.

Amen. You know, my friend, before I became the pastor of Moody Church, the Lord impressed upon my mind the words of Jeremiah, seekest thou great things for thyself, seek them not. It's a difficult verse to live by because all of us by nature want to seek greatness. I've written a book entitled Holy Living in an Unholy World, and I wrote this book to help us think through the role of rules in the Christian life, the lack of rules, what is legalism. Dr. Charles Ryrie, who for many years was a professor of theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote this in the introduction. He says, this is a book that needed to be written. It's a message that comes through loud and clear.

It's a sober call to holiness, to total commitment to the Lord, and in the process, it demolishes many evangelical sacred cows of Christian living. Well, this book can be yours for a gift of any amount. Here's what you do. Go to That's, or if you wish, you can call us. You can call us at any time at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book, Holy Living in an Unholy World, helping all of us think through what it's like to be in the world, but not of the world. Simply go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

And thanks in advance for helping us. Thank you for joining hands with us as we continue to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to millions around the world. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life.

Running to Win is proud that our listeners are among the most sharp-eyed readers of the Bible you'll ever find. They come up with really interesting questions, like this one from Desmond, who asks, After Jesus is resurrected in Matthew, it's recorded that some people who were dead were also resurrected. My question is, what happened to those people?

Well, Desmond, your guess is as good as mine. The Bible doesn't tell us what happened to these people. All that we can do is to assume that which is reasonable, namely that they died again. And if you think that that is very unusual, it is, but it did happen to Lazarus. He was resurrected by Christ. And then, of course, I'm sure that he died after that. Now, if you ask the question, why these strange resurrections?

We can't answer that either. It's something that God simply chose to do as kind of further proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in the end, they also had to die. And someday they will be permanently resurrected with their permanent bodies, which they do not yet have.

And they shall be resurrected along with the rest of us to everlasting life. Thank you, Desmond, for that sharp-eyed question. And thank you, Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can by going to our website at and clicking on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time on Running to Win, why Jesus instituted two ordinances that we are to practice until He returns, and why the Church is the place where these ordinances are to be celebrated. Plan to join us. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-17 02:08:49 / 2023-04-17 02:17:58 / 9

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