Charles Stanley - Passing On God's Blessings
In these economic times, it's easy for us to get a little bit selfish and a little bit self-centered. And the reason is because we always have needs at some point in our life. And we also have responsibilities. And so, the question is, how should we as followers of Jesus respond in these times? Well, the question I have to ask is this, what about in Jesus' day? What did He say? What did He teach? Because those times were similar to these, only much worse. Because in those days there were two classes of people, they're very wealthy and powerful. And then those who were very poor. Millions of slaves. What did Jesus say? How did He say they were to respond?
And so, when you think about what He taught them. Certainly, He wouldn't teach them one thing and us another. And certainly, all truth is truth. And regardless of the times and the situations and circumstances, principles are the same. So, what we have to ask is this, what did He say? What did He do? How did He act? What did He admonish them to do? How did He tell them to relate to each other? It's all in the Word of God. And when you read the Scripture and you begin to understand what Jesus was saying and the Apostle Paul also, and others, then you begin to understand what He taught them not only worked for their day. But what He taught them works for our day also. And when you read the Scripture and you begin to understand exactly what He's saying, the truth is, we're to live out our life today just like He told them to live it out in that day.
So, what I want us to talk about is this, I want to talk about one of the life principles which is God blesses us in order to have us be a blessing to other people. That's the reason. He blesses us to be a blessing to someone else. And I want you to turn to two short Scriptures. One of them being in Ephesians chapter four. And here Paul is talking about the Christian life and how we should live and things we should avoid in our life. And he comes down to this twenty-fifth verse and he says, "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one body". Speaking of the church. "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger". And then he says, listen to this, "And do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor," he must work, "performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need".
He said every person should work. And one of the reasons they should work and labor faithfully and diligently is that they would have something to give to others. Now, if you turn over to this sixth chapter of first Timothy. And here again Paul is referring to this same issue. And if you'll notice what he says in the sixth chapter and the seventeenth verse. He says, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us all with good things to enjoy". Then he says, "Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share". He says you don't steal, but you work in order to share. And if you're wealthy you don't keep it all to yourself because God wants us to share that also.
So, in thinking about that, I want us to think about this whole idea that God has blessed every single one of us. One of the things He had in mind when He blessed us is that you and I would be a blessing to someone else. Well, let's talk about what a blessing is. If I ask God to bless you, here's what I'm asking, I'm asking God to intervene in your life in some fashion for your good. Maybe your happiness, your joy in your life, or to meet some particular need in your life. That is, I'm asking Him to intervene in your life for something in your behalf. Because the truth is, that's what God wants us to do. He wants us to bless one another. And both of those verses that we read, He said we're to share. We're to work and labor whatever we have and we're to share with other people who don't have as much as we do.
Now, when you think about the life of Christ and the way He saw Himself. We see Him as the Lord and the Master and the King and all the rest. When He came here's what He said. He said, I didn't come to be served, though He deserved it. I didn't come to be served. I came to serve and to give My life a ransom for many. Which was an expression of the way He served. Expression of His goodness and love and mercy toward us. Then on another occasion Luke the twenty-second chapter. He says that, "I am among you as one who serves". That's the way Jesus saw Himself.
So, let's think about some things that Jesus did that certainly were expressions of a servant. When He saw a need, He was willing to meet that need. Does that mean that He healed everybody that was sick? No. Does that mean that He met every single, solitary person's needs? No. But it's amazing because you see, He, the Bible says, that He knew the heart of every person. But if you look at His life, His life is one three-year period of giving, giving, giving, giving, sharing, sharing, sharing Himself. Now, I want you to listen to what He says in the Word of God because it applies to every single one of us. And so, in light, listen, what I'm going to do is I'm going to give you a word of what He's done for us. How He's served us.
And then I want you to read the verse that follows that in a moment of how I'm to respond on the basis of what He's done. So, let's start with the fact that He saved us. And look at this. He saved us from our sins. And He said to us now it's my responsibility and yours to, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creatures". Now, that doesn't mean that you have to go to China or Russia tomorrow. But it means, listen, where you live, you and I are responsible for sharing the truth of the gospel with the, watch this, with the people, listen, who are in our circle.
Now, some circles are way out yonder. And some are up close. Some have a few friends. You have people you work with. And then on and on it goes. Doesn't make any difference. Whatever and wherever we live, we have a responsibility to be sharing the gospel. Because that's what He gave us. A second thing is, you think about this, that He loves us. He loves us supremely. And so, look in first Peter chapter four verse eight. "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another," that is, keep your love alive, "because love covers a multitude of sins". Be fervent in our love. In other words, just "How you doin', I like you". But fervent love means it's love that's in action. Fervent love expresses itself. It expresses itself not only in words but expresses itself in deeds.
So, He's not asking us to do anymore than He's done for us. He says, I saved you. I want you to be the conduit somebody else gets saved. I love you and I love you with a fervent love. I love you enough to have given My life for you. And I want you to fervently, that is, genuinely love other people. Give yourself away to them in such a fashion they experience that love. Then of course, He forgives us of our sins. Look at this, Ephesians four thirty-two, "Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you". How does Jesus forgive us? He freely forgives us. We don't have to beg and plead for God to forgive us. And there's not a single one of us, no matter who you are who can say, I asked the Lord to forgive me of my sins but He didn't do it. I asked Him two or three times but He didn't do it.
If you ask Him sincerely as one of His children, yes, He did. You may not feel it. You may not see anything going on around you that's different. You ask Him to forgive you. He says, "If we confess our sins, He's faithful". You can trust Him and just. He has a right to forgive you. Now, if you're not a believer where does it begin? It begins with your confessing of your sins. Asking Him to forgive you of your sins and accepting His Son Jesus as your personal Savior. And that acceptance is based on the fact that He paid your sin debt in full; not that you are good enough to be saved by simply asking.
And so, our forgiveness is from Him. He says, we're to forgive others even, listen, even as God through His Son Jesus Christ has forgiven us. He has forgiven every single one of us of many, many things many, many times. And not only that, He's forgiven us of the same thing many times. I have to forgive no matter what, no matter when, no matter how and no matter who. There is no limit to forgiveness. You say, Well, it hurts me so bad. That's not the issue. How many times has Jesus forgiven you? Well, if I'm going to be one of His followers then that's part of it. Then of course He provides for us materially. Look what He says, He says, "Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share".
Look what you have, every single person seated here and probably most of you who are watching and listening, we are very wealthy compared to most of the world. No matter how little we have, we are wealthy compared to those. And He said Because He's always giving us whatever we ask for most of the time or whatever we need, we're to do the same for others. Then of course He teaches us the truth. It's why we know it. Look at this, "The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him or teaches her". That is, you have learned many things from the Word of God. You have the responsibility of teaching somebody else.
You say, But now wait a minute. I am not a teacher. Well, how do you define a teacher? Someone who has a college education and a degree in teaching? No. Watch this, if you know something I don't know and you're willing to tell me what that means and how I can apply it to my life, you just taught me something. And our Lord has given us the Holy Spirit that makes us capable of teaching other people. There are many people you can teach the truth of God's Word. Then of course think about this, He comforts us. And listen to what He says in second Corinthians. He says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all affliction, so that we'll be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God".
You and I are comforters. You say, Well, I don't know what to say. Yes, you do. You say, Well, how am I going to comfort someone. You see them hurting, here's what you say to them, I just want you to know that I'm really praying for you. I don't fully understand everything that you're going through but I want you to know you can count on me. Or you may say, You know, I don't fully understand all you're going through but I am willing to listen if you want to just get it off your mind or off your chest or if you just need to tell somebody. Then you've comforted them. You see the truth is, all of us can do exactly what Jesus is doing for us and here's the command. The truth is I don't have a choice. If I'm going to be a follower of Jesus, He comforted others. He says, I'm to comfort others. An encourager for example. He encourages us.
That's one of the reasons you and I pray. We pray because sometimes we get a little discouraged or we're facing something. We just say, God I need you. Listen to what He says, "Now, may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus". Everybody needs one or more encouragers. Somebody sent me an email that I just found it last night. And I thought, Lord, I hope I can have the moment or just a moment if I could today to say thank you very much for sending me that. It was a very encouraging message to me. I wonder when's the last time you decided, I'm going to send so-and-so an email, write them a letter, call them, and I just want to say a word of encouragement to them. You don't have to say, Now, I have called you to encourage you. No, that's not what I'm talking about. You just do it.
And you know what? Sometimes a pat on the shoulder or a handshake with both hands is a very encouraging thing to some people. But you see, if I'm always thinking about me, myself, and I, I'm going to let a wonderful opportunity go by many times a day to be an encourager if I'm not careful. Then of course, He has accepted us. Thank God He has. He has accepted us. Listen to this, "Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also has accepted us to the glory of God". If I accept someone that means that I take them for who they are. I may not like what they do. I may not like the way they act. But I can accept them as persons who may be persons in need. They may be persons who are selfish. They may be persons that are greedy. May be persons who'll... happiness and joy. That is, that one of the worst emotions there is, is an emotion to feel rejected by somebody.
And I think about how many people today go to work and but when the day is over, or but when they walk in, we don't need you anymore. We're having to cut back and so this is your last day. You can look at it any way you want to but there's a sense of rejection. They don't need me anymore. And remember this, every single one of us has been accepted by God through His Son Jesus Christ that has nothing to do with deserving it. It's just because that's who He is. He loves us. Then of course He admonishes us. Look at this, "And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another".
To admonish one another, listen, it's not only to encourage them but sometimes to warn them. That is, to caution them. I see where you're headed but I want you to think about something before you make that decision. I see what you're telling me but have you thought about what God says about that? Admonishment is a caution whether to buy something, developing a relationship or whatever it might be. Jesus certainly has admonished us and we're to admonish others. Then of course He's been very patient with us. Look at this "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love". Patience for one another. Every parent has to be patient. We have to be patient with each other.
And patience says, you know what? I can wait till you learn this. I can wait till you forgive me. I can wait till you change. I can wait till you pay me. In other words, I can wait. God has been patient with every single one of us. We're to be patient with one another. And then of course kindness. The same verse we read a few moments ago. "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other". Kindness says I'm thinking about you. You'd be surprised how you can express kindnesses to people that don't expect it but may need it. Or it gives them joy or happiness or whatever it might be. Think about, when is the last time you purposely decided, Now, I'm going to do something really good for him or her? I'm going to show her that I really do care for her. Now, of course, every husband and wife should live like that all the time. But when is the last time somebody that you appreciate, you just decided, you know what?
Now, you don't tell them. You don't do that. In other words, this week I had the wonderful privilege of being kind to somebody. And hiding it so they'd have to find it. But I just wanted them to know that I appreciated them and that I'm grateful for them. It's not that you do it to get anything. Remember what we said, we're not talking about getting, we're talking about giving. And then of course, this whole idea of stimulating one another. Look at this verse, Hebrews ten, twenty-four. "And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds". To stimulate means to motivate them; to stir them up. In other words, how do we motivate other people? You want to motivate your children to be obedient. You want to motivate them to express love. You want to motivate them to be kind. What about ourselves? And what about stimulating each other?
And you see, brow-beating people and talking negative to them and always criticizing. And some people are just born in a negative case. They don't seem to know how to say anything positive. But, listen, what motivates you? What stimulates you? Not criticism. We're stimulated by what? By kindness, by words of acceptance and by compliments that are meaningful. And when we see good characteristics in people, and we say that, we stimulate them to do better. And this is why you hear me saying and I say to our staff, look your best, do your best, be your best. I want to stimulate them to rise up and don't be average. Do your best, look your best, be your best because you're representatives of Jesus Christ. Stimulate one another. That is, so work in their life and so speak to them that something inside of them just rises up to do their best, whoever they are.
And then of course shares with us. And the very first verse we talked about in this fourth chapter of Ephesians. And this twenty-eight verse when he says here, "He who steals must steal no longer". Because lots of slaves in those days were doing that. "But rather," he says, "he must labor, performing with his own hands what's good, so that we'll have something to share with one another who has needs". Now, let me ask you a question. I have just said to you this is what Jesus did in His life. And then I shared with you this is what He's done in your life and mine. And now this is what He expects us to do for others.
So, I want to ask you a question, listen carefully, and think about it before you answer it for yourself. As you look at your own life in the way you live would you say you are a getter or a giver? Do you spend most of your time thinking about what you're going to get? Or do you think about most of your time, how can I give? What can I give? What can I share? Which would you say you are, a getter or a giver? The happiest people are the givers. A giver or a getter? Now, I'll make one last statement you must never forget. Are you listening? Say amen. When you stand before the Lord and you get to heaven, listen carefully, you will not be rewarded for what you get. You'll only be rewarded for what you give. Did you get that? When you get to heaven you're not going to be rewarded for what you get in this life, you're going to be rewarded for what you give.
So, it is wisest to be a giver. You're going to be happiest being a giver. You're going to be more useful to the kingdom of God being a giver. You're going to be more excited about life being a giver. Everything is better for givers than for getters. So, I'd like to give you something, I would like to give you at this moment the opportunity of changing the direction of your life, the eternal destiny of your life and the condition of your life. And here's how you can do that, you can recognize honestly that you're a sinner. That you've sinned against God. And that you don't deserve anything because when you look at your works, your works are pitiful when you think about the fact that you have rejected Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
So, the invitation is this, to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins. And acknowledge that you've never trusted Him as your Savior. You've tried to do good. But the Bible states that that doesn't work. He says, by works of righteousness which you've done, no person's ever been saved. I want to invite you to invite Jesus Christ into your life. Asking Him to forgive you of your sins, surrendering yourself to Him personally. And saying, Lord, I want You in my life. I want You to live your life in and through me. I need the forgiveness of my sins. I do want to go to heaven when I die but I want my life to count now. And most of all, I want Jesus Christ as my Lord and my Savior. If you're willing to ask Him to forgive you of your sin and say to Him, I am receiving You Jesus as my personal Savior here and now. In that moment your sins are forgiven. You become a child of God. The Holy Spirit comes into your life to seal you as one of His children forever and your life will never be the same. And besides that, you have the gift of eternal life.
Father how grateful we are for Your love for us and all the wonderful ways You express it. And I pray that every person who hears this message will realize how absolutely, totally indebted we are to You. For not some things but everything. For life itself, breath itself and everything that comes with it. I pray that every person who hears it would be wise enough to surrender their life to You, Father, through Jesus Christ Your Son. And I pray this in His wonderful name, amen.