Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pentecost 16 - Proper 20

Respect. Arethra Franklyn the queen of soul sang about giving it. Rodney Dangerfield the comedian complained that he never got it. Often we too, may feel that we get no respect – from our peers, from our parents, from our teammates, and from others around us. People often resort to bizarre means to get respect from others, but so often they end up as fools, still crying for – respect.

We are so concerned about getting respect from other people. What about respect from God? God respects all people in the sense that we all are important to Him. After all, He created us in still preserves us. Are we respectable enough by God’s standards to be in heaven one day with Him? How do we get from God the respect that makes us worthy of eternal life? Today our lesson asks the question how we get respect in God’s sight.

1. God’s respect is not earned.
A. Our humility and service do not measure up to God’s perfect standard.
1. Like the disciples, we would rather be served then serve.
2. Even when we serve, our motive is often self-serving.
3. We make comparisons: “I have served more than you have.” Pride creeps in to stain our service.
B. We labor under the false pretense if we think we can earn God’s respect by our humble serving.
1. Jesus refused to seek people’s respect under a false pretense. They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it (v.30)
2. The way to God’s respect is opened by honest admission that in ourselves we are not respectable people.

2. God’s respect is a gift.
A. Christ earned it for us.
1. He humbled Himself all the way to death on a cross to atone for our pride. for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again. (vs.31)
2. His rising from the dead guaranteed our respectability before God.
B. When we believe that Christ died and rose for us, we can be sure that God respects us as heaven-worthy people.
1. Christ has given us His humility in exchange in exchange for our smallness.
2. Christ has bestowed on us His greatness in exchange for our smallness.

3. God’s respect is demonstrated by us.
A. When we serve people who do not deserve our respect.
1. Willing to place ourselves last. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all (v.35)
2. Willing to serve without recognition or praise and thereby foregoing greatness as the world sees it. But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest (vs.34)
B. When we serve people who are not in a position to reward us for our service.
1. Little children are not in a position to reciprocate our service to them any more than we are able to pay God back for having served us in His Son. Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’ (Vv.36-37)
2. Yet, when we serve even the least of God’s children, God respects our service for Jesus’ sake and graciously rewards us. (v.37)

A woman of some means gifted a great sum of money to charities and missions in her church. One day she decided to take a trip to visit some of the mission projects her money had so generously endowed. She visited a hospital where wonderful help was afforded to needy natives. She stopped at an orphanage where little children of the street were cared for. She went to a leper colony where a loving nurse was treating those who were suffering from the putrefying disease. She commented, more to herself then to the host, “My, I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” The nurse who was treating a patient answered, “Neither would I.” In the service of Christ to us, exemplified in the nurses’ service, we find the secret of greatness and the way to get respect in God’s sight.

No comments: