Humble Service

~ Don Merritt

Romans 12:3-8

Paul set out his proposition in verses 1-2, that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices and be transformed by the renewing of our minds as a response to grace in verses 3-8 we have our first lesson on how to go about it: Serve the body of Christ in humility.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (12:3)

So, it would seem that the first step in the transformative process is that we adopt an attitude of humility. Right away, we can see that not being conformed to this world was something Paul was very serious about (v. 2) for in this age of “game”, “swagger” and “bling” humility is very much out of style. Verse 4 uses the metaphor of our bodies in the same way that Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 12 as he shows that each of us has a unique part to play in the Body of Christ. While this is easy enough to grasp, he takes another shot at the attitudes of this world in verse 5 when he says each member belongs to all the others. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Christians bristle at that one.

In verses 6-8 Paul refers to spiritual gifts that each of us has received by the Holy Spirit.

I hope you will consider this carefully: In a context of humble service, a context that is not only counter-intuitive but also counter-cultural for most of us, Paul tells us to exercise our spiritual gifts in humble service to the Body of Christ. Think about the magnitude of the implication of this…

Not only are we to adopt an attitude of true and honest humility, not only are we to consider or positions as members of and belonging to the Body of Christ, but we are to serve the Body of Christ. Yet even more striking than that, we are to rely upon our spiritual gift from God in our service, which is to say that we are not to rely on our own strength, ability or talent, but on God’s grace alone.


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“Unfeigned love of the brethren”

The title is part of 1 Peter 1:22, which reads, “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently”. The word, ‘unfeigned’ is used four times in the bible: one other time in reference to love as here, and twice to describe true faith. It is a very demanding word for the serious christian. We are commanded to love one another; not just those we like, but all who are Christ’s. We are to love them because they are Christ’s; and we have to love them unfeignedly, that is, sincerely. Let us look more closely at this word.

To put it in the simplest language, unfeigned love is sincere love; love without pretence; love which is true and unstained with hypocrisy. In fact the word in the original language, translates simply as ‘without hypocrisy’. This standard of love is very high, even for those who are in a state of grace, that is, people who are RightWithGod through Jesus Christ. Christ Himself was the only one ever who was able to practise this love perfectly, and His command to us His people is, “That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34). His love was truly unfeigned love; it was perfect love which had no trace of hypocrisy in it. That is the standard that He set for us. We must never stop trying to reach this standard, although we will never reach it in this life. This quest makes us long for heaven where we will be separated from sin forever, and be able to love Christ and one another with unfeigned love.

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Love Is Not a Verb


funnyI can’t comprehend why we’re not all friends at church, but some people are more concerned about clambering up — what in their mind — the dogpile. They think they have to step on others.

Not me. I just want to enjoy friendship. And I wish everybody were a friend.

This side of eternity, friendship is the greatest thing. It is one of the loves (marital and family is another). Friendship occurs when you appreciate each other and share meaningful moments (they can be goofiness or enjoying watching a sport together or working together in a common cause).

The king of the dogpile is the ultimate loser for me. He thinks he’s got everybody’s respect. Maybe what he has is everybody’s fear. I’m afraid of him. Perfect love casts out all fear. I’m far from perfect yet.

from Mustard Seed

Creating a Culture of Hospitality

Church doesn’t just happen on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights. We all know that. In our busy and self-isolating culture, we have to make intentional, personal contact with each other if we want to be a real community. But how do we do it? Let me suggest one centuries-old method: invite people over.

There is something bonding about being in someone’s house. You enter their world. You see their interests and their style of life. You see their kids schedules and get a feel for some of the daily challenges they face. In other words, you step beyond the neutral-site church meetings and begin to understand them in context. That’s why a church whose members invite each other over can develop a stronger community.

How to make it happen

Rule #7: Fellowship with Godly People (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

When the Church Was a Family, part 5

Many of us receive great personal satisfaction from our Sunday sermons, and so we should, for it is a tremendous honor to speak on behalf of the King of the universe. But some of us overly depend on our public teaching ministries for a weekly shot of self-esteem, and our personal identities have become far too wrapped up in our role as the community’s “Sunday sage.”

Robust Sunday attendance and generous church offerings only compound the problem. For as a church grows, the preaching pastor will almost inevitably be affirmed in an institutional, managerial approach to ministry by a well-meaning group of elders or deacons whose ecclesiology and understanding of pastoral effectiveness are influenced more by the Wall Street Journal than by the letters of Paul.

We must preach community, and we must structure and present our church programs in such a way as to make those relational environments a first priority for the lives of our people.

The responsibilities of senior church leaders go beyond encouraging church family relationships through appropriate teaching and programming. Pastors need community too—perhaps more than anyone. We pastors are not immune to the reality that spiritual formation occurs in the context of community. We must pursue relationships with a handful of brothers in the congregation, first and foremost, for our own spiritual health. We pastors need caring brothers and sisters. And they need us.

But there is another reason that we as pastors need a group of close surrogate siblings in the church family. We ourselves need to be in community in order to model community life for our people if we truly want them to embrace church family values for their own lives.

One who has no true brothers in the congregation will be unable authentically and credibly to challenge others to live together as surrogate siblings.

We cannot read our Bibles without concluding that the number one evidence of Christian maturity is our ability to engage in intimate, authentic relationships with our fellow human beings.

There is no other consistently reliable benchmark of our growth in Christ—certainly not Bible knowledge or effectiveness in ministry—by which to evaluate our Christian walk.

It’s all about family. The social unit to which strong-group Mediterranean persons expressed primary relational allegiance was the family. People in the world of Jesus and Paul readily embraced the idea that the good of the family was to take priority over one’s personal desires and aspirations.

When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community – Hellerman

I repeat: There is so much more to learn from the book, these many excerpts should leave you with a real interest in buying Hellerman’s book and study it in depth. Very challenging.