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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Doing Good

Craig Smith - Doing Good

Craig Smith - Doing Good
TOPICS: Live Free, Good Works

Well, welcome to Mission Hills. So good to have you with us today. We are kind of rounding third base on our “Live Free” series. Next week we’ll actually bring it home. But if you’re just joining us let me get caught up real quick. For the last few weeks, we have been kind of exploring one of the most common reasons why we fail to experience the freedom that were promised in Jesus. And that is as we said that we have an incorrect understanding of freedom, or at least we have an incomplete definition of it. Where we tend to think about freedom, primarily, in terms of the bad things we’re free from, but what Paul’s been teaching us is that we also have to consider the better things that we’re free for. And as we’ve said several times over the last few weeks, if we don’t lean into what we’re free for, we’ll end up drifting back into what we’re free from. And so we don’t experience freedom. Now, last week, Paul kind of dealt with a very specific application of that, which is that we’re free from the self-centeredness of the flesh, and we’re free for the other-centered as the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit, we have this new voice leading us into other-centeredness.

And what he’d said we had to do is, we have to stop indulging the self-centeredness of the flesh, and we have to start indulging the other-centeredness of the Spirit. We have to begin listening to that voice and moving forward. It’s a little bit like my grandma used to say, you know, feed a cold, starve a fever. Anybody else ever hear that? I am not sure that’s good medical advice, actually, but it’s pretty good spiritual advice. We can’t just say shut off the voice of sin, of self-centeredness, but we can kind of turn down the volume on it by listening more to the voice of the Spirit calling us to other-centeredness. And so what we’re going to see today is Paul’s going to lean into some very specific practical ways that we can begin to indulge the other-centeredness of the Spirit and in that way turned down the voice of self-centeredness.

If you want to join us, we’re going to be in Galatians chapter 6, starting in verse 1. If you want to grab a Bible, start making your way to Galatians 6:1. I don’t know about you, but this is somewhere I need help because the reality is that selfishness is something that I’m still dealing with. I don’t know if anybody else feels this way. But I feel like early in my Christian journey, I’ve been following Jesus for probably 30-plus years now, and I feel like we’ve moved past by the grace of God. We’ve moved past a lot of some of the sin kind of stuff that entangled me when I was younger, but this selfishness issue just keeps coming up. Anybody else feel like that? I just feel like every time I turn around, there’s another place where I recognize, yeah, I’m selfish.

Last night, my wife, Coletta, and I went out with our younger daughter Lynea to get ice cream. We went to Cold Stone Creamery. And the plan was I was gonna get a “Like it,” that’s their small size, and we were all going to share it. I was just gonna have a couple bites, my wife was just gonna have a couple bites, our youngest daughter was gonna have most of them. And I got there and there was a really long line, and like, immediately, my selfishness began to like kick in. And honestly, by the time I finally get up to order, I had identified about 17 efficiency problems with their whole business model. And I was like, “I can pay you, or I can give you free business advice. Which one do you want to do here?” The other thing that was interesting by the time I got up there was my “Like it” had turned into a “Gotta have it,” which is and I weigh more than a couple bites. And afterwards, I was like, “Yeah. I know. I know. There’s just this sort of like, I want what I want, right? And I wanted at the time that I wanted, and when I don’t get it, then I lean into other ways of, like, satisfying this self-centeredness. And so I really need what Paul says here, like, give me some practical ways, Paul, that I can begin turning down the volume on the voice of self-centeredness and turning up the volume on the Spirit leading me to other-centeredness.

And here’s some of the practical ways he teaches us to do this. Galatians 6:1, “Now, brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” In other words, he says, if you’re led by the Spirit, and I should probably stop there for a moment, and go, I don’t know about you, but when I was young in my faith, when I would hear phrases like, you know, Spirit-filled Christians, or those who live by the Spirit, I thought those were the spiritual elite. I thought those are like the Green Berets, the Army Rangers, the Navy SEALs of the Christian world, right? They’re all in this different plane. And what we’ve kind of understood over the last few weeks here in Galatians is that’s actually a description of all Christians, at least it’s supposed to be. We’re all supposed to be listening to and being led by the Spirit. So, this is not something for certain people to do. This is something for all of us to do. He says, basically, if you’re learning to listen to the Spirit, to be a little bit more other-centered, here’s what other-centered people do. Other-centered people help others escape the self-destruction of their sin. He says other-centered people help other people escape the self-destruction of their sin. They don’t just look at people caught in sin and go, “I see that.” They don’t just look at people caught in sin and go, “You better get after that.” They don’t look at other people caught in sin and say, “Good luck with that.” No, other-centered people look at people caught in sin and they say, “Let me help with that. Let me help you get out from under that.”

Now, there’s a couple of warnings that we have to keep in mind as we do that. The first is this. This is not a call to or a justification for what I call binocular Christianity. I’ve known some binocular Christians, I don’t know about you. These people who just seem to go around life with binoculars surgically attached to their eyes. And they’re constantly scanning and go like, “Whoops, sin, I see it right there.” I’m not pointing at you guys. It’s… Like, I see it there. I see it there. I see it there. I see it there. And they’re really good, especially at a distance and like do you see it or use these. You know, let’s zoom in closer. Do you see it now? Right? This is not what Paul’s calling us to here, but sometimes they go well, but it says if they’re caught in sin and how does he mean that I’m going to catch him in sin, if we’re out there looking to catch him in sin, right? How are they going to get caught if I’m not trying to catch them? That’s not what Paul’s saying. When he says if they’re caught in sin, he doesn’t mean caught committing sin, he means caught up in sin. He means caught under a burden of sin that they can’t get out from under on their own, okay? So this isn’t a call for us to go looking to catch people in sin, but it is a call for living in community so that we can see when other people begin to find themselves in those places that they can’t extricate themselves from on their own.

Now, the other warning that we have here is that he says that we’re supposed to look to restore them, we’re supposed to help them get back on track, but we’re supposed to do it gently, gently. And that’s one of those words that I’m not sure we really fully understand even the English. The English is a perfectly good translation of the Greek but even the English word we don’t fully get. We hear the word gentle, and I think a lot of us tend to think soft, right? And we often tend to think well, gentle means without strength. Well, that’s not the case at all. There’s no such thing actually as gentleness without strength. You cannot be gentle unless you have strength because gentleness is a strength that’s being controlled to a certain degree so that it doesn’t cause more harm than help. Probably the best definition I’ve ever seen of gentleness is that gentleness is strength accommodating itself to another’s weakness. Strength accommodating itself to another’s weakness. I’m in physical therapy right now. I broke my finger eight weeks ago, I’m out of the cast now. The finger is still really stiff, it’s very weak. And so I have to go to a physical therapist and let me be honest with you, I hate her. I hate her. And one of the things that she does is her fingers are stronger than my fingers. And so she’ll put her hand down and she’ll take this finger and just start bending it. And she bends it and she’s much stronger than I am in that finger. She bends until it begins to hurt. And then she keeps bending it.

And I find myself left going okay, I want to let her know that she can stop at any time, but I want to do that in a way that allows me to keep my man card. So, you know what noise can I make that will let her know, but still, you know, express masculinity, and what I’m trying to do is whimper at a very low register. But it’s a great picture of strength accommodating itself to another’s weakness. She’s pushing on. Now, she’s not just grabbing, you know, pulling as far as she could possibly. She’s perfectly capable of getting my finger all the way down to my palm, but that would actually cause more harm than it would help, right? So, she’s accommodating to my weakness. It’s the strength to accommodate the weakness, but that’s what Paul’s talking about here, okay? We don’t come at other people with condemnation, and we don’t come at other people with judgment. We come to other people with gentleness, strength accommodating to weakness. We don’t tell them they’re pathetic. We don’t tell them they’re weak. We come alongside them. And the reality is that one of the greatest dangers I think that we have when we’re trying to restore somebody who’s caught up in sin is that we allow pride to creep into the mix. And that’s actually what Paul warns us about next, he says, “But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

When you’re trying to help restore someone who’s caught up in sin and they can’t get out from under by themselves, watch yourself so you also may be tempted. And sometimes I think it’s easy to read that and assume that he’s saying well, make sure you don’t get caught up in the same sin that they’re caught up in, right? So, if they’re dealing with substance abuse, then make sure you don’t end up abusing substances while you’re trying to help them get out from under abusing substances, but that’s actually not what he’s talking about here. That’s good wisdom, but that’s not the warning. The warning here is about allowing pride to creep into our attempt to help them. It’s actually a continuation of what he began back in 5:26, where he said, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” He’s saying, as you’re trying to help somebody make sure that you don’t allow pride to get into the mix because it’s an easy thing to do, right? I mean, it begins very subtly. It begins with, “Boy, I’m sure glad that I am not caught up in the same thing they’re caught up in.” Which kind of becomes, “I’m sure glad that I’m not the kind of person who gets caught up in that kind of thing,” which turns into, “Well, I’m glad I’m better than they are.” He’s saying you got to be really careful about that because the reality is that pride turns helping into hurting, okay? Pride turns helping into hurting. It ends up causing more damage than it accommodates.

Can you imagine if my physical therapist came in, and she said, “Okay. Well, how much can you bend?” And I’m like, “Not very much. I mean, I can bend this joint, but this joint, not so much.” And she went, “Well, that’s a little pathetic. Hand over your man card right now because you’re weak.” I mean, first off, I would cry, okay? And second, I would go away, and I’d never come back to her, and I would never actually get the help that I need to move forward, okay? Pride turns helping into hurting. People feel it. And so Paul says, watch yourselves. And the language that he uses there, especially in the original Greek implies a very careful process. It’s not so much we’re supposed to be constantly scanning for sin, but we are supposed to be constantly scanning ourselves to make sure that pride is not getting into the mix. So, how do we keep that from happening? Well, he says, do this, he says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Carry each other’s burdens, and in this you will fulfill the law of Christ. The law of Christ, we’ve seen several times is Jesus’s command that we would love one another. He says the way you fulfill that command to love one another is that you carry each other’s burdens. Again, it’s so that when you find somebody who’s caught up in sin, they can’t get out from under it, you don’t just go “You better get after that.” We don’t just go, “Good luck with that.” We say, “How can I help with that?” How can I come alongside? So, somebody is caught in maybe say substance abuse, I’m sorry to use that example. And what we do is we say, hey, let me help. Like, you can call me anytime day or night.

It doesn’t matter when if you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re moving in that direction, I want you to call me and I will be there for you. I will come and get you, I’ll spend as much time with you as is necessary to help you avoid that moment of temptation, to keep you from sliding back into that. Or maybe it’s I’m gonna call you every day for the next three months, and check-in and see how you’re doing and see what I can do to come alongside you. In other words, what he’s saying is instead of looking down on others who’re caught in sins, instead of looking down on others, focus on lifting up the load to help them get out from under it. Figure out what I can do to come alongside the person that I see caught under the sin and go, let me help lift it a little bit so you can begin to get yourself out from under it. He says that’s one of the ways, maybe one of the best ways that we avoid allowing pride to slip into our attempt to help others. But understand all of this is a practical expression of a way that we can lean into or indulge the other-centeredness of the Spirit. It’s that we look to help one another. And here at Mission Hills, we’re all about helping people become like Jesus and join him on mission. That’s not the job of the staff. That’s not my job. That’s our job as the church, to help other people, to help each other move forward in becoming more like Jesus, and joining him on mission. That’s an expression of other-centeredness. So, important that we don’t let pride get in the way of that mission.

He says, “If anyone thinks they’re something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions, and then they can take pride in themselves alone without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” It’s interesting to me, he’s clearly warning us against the danger of pride, right? But in the process of warning us don’t become prideful, he says, but if you do this, then you can take pride in yourself. I’m like well, hang on a second. Do we want pride or not? Is pride good or is it bad? And the answer is it depends on what kind of pride we’re thinking.

There’s a good pride the Bible talks about and then there’s a bad pride the Bible talks about. I think it’s very important that we understand the difference. Good pride is being content because I’m doing what’s right. It’s being content because I’m doing what’s right, what God calls me to do, and there’s a peace that comes from that. Bad pride is being comfortable because I’m doing better than. You see the difference? Good pride says I have a certain peace because I’m moving forward and becoming like Jesus. I’m moving forward and becoming other-centered. I’m taking those small steps of faith that I find God leading me to and I’m doing what’s right and there’s a peace that comes from that. I’m not perfect yet, I haven’t fully arrived, but I’m moving in the right direction, and I have peace because I know I’m making progress.

Bad pride, on the other hand, is actually anti-progress. Bad pride is where we get comfortable, it’s kind of a false peace, honestly, that comes from looking at other people and going well, I’m better than them. It actually keeps us from moving forward because there’s no longer a motivation. It’s kind of like anesthesia, honestly. It’s a way of numbing ourselves to the reality that we’re not moving forward in the way we should, but we’re not able to avoid that pain, and that sort of angst because we look around and go, okay, I know that I’m not the best husband ever, but have you seen that loser, right? I know I’m not the best teacher of these kids that God’s entrusted to me, but man, every time I walk by her classroom, I hear her screaming at her kids. I’m way better than that, right? And so better than kind of starts to feel like good enough, right? And here’s a reality that I’ve come to understand. It’s a really powerful reality. And it’s true, not just in the spiritual realm. It’s true actually, in every area of life. It’s true in school, it’s true in athletics, it’s true in business, it’s true in families and parenting. It’s true everywhere.

One of the greatest obstacles to growth is the comfort that comes from knowing I’m better than… and you fill in the blank. And I say knowing because reality is, we’re pretty good at finding people that we’re actually better than them in that particular area, at least. We don’t want us to see the whole totality of their lives, we see that one area that we’re really interested in, and we go on definitely better than them, so I must be good enough. And because we think we’re good enough, we just don’t move forward. It’s one of the greatest obstacles to growth. It trips us up all the time.

I’ll give you my best moment as an athlete, I don’t have a lot of them. This is my best moment. I was a soccer player in high school and college, and we were playing our rivals one time and I was a decent player. I was fast. And that helped me but I wasn’t necessarily a great ball-handler, but we were playing our rivals and the rivals had a defensive fullback. Man, he was so good. He was the best ball handler I’ve ever seen. And we kind of got into a tussle, that he’d gotten hold of the ball, and everybody else had kind of backed off and I was trying to get the ball away from him. We’re kind of on the edge of the line with the… It’s just the goalie between him and the goal and he was playing keep-away with me. And he was winning. Like, I’m trying to get the ball and he’s dancing around, he’s changing feet, put it behind himself and spinning and I looked like an idiot. I looked like I was having a seizure trying to get this thing. And he knew it. He knew he was better than me. And he was totally dwelling in that. And at a certain point, he looked at me, I’ll never forget it. He gave me kind of this little smug smile, and then he tapped it backwards to his goalie, but he didn’t kick it hard enough. It was going slow. I saw that, the goalie saw it. And he saw it in my eyes, but he had to turn around because he kicked it backwards. And so I busted past him, the goalie is racing for it. I beat the goalie to the ball, tapped it into the side of him, tapped it into the goal. Game was over a couple of minutes later, and we won. It was my best moment ever. You understand why it happened though, because he thought better than is good enough.

I’m better than this guy that’s good enough. It’s just not. I should probably balance that because I was fast. I was a sprinter too in the track and field. The 220 was probably my best race. And I remember district finals once I was racing a guy and we’d been neck and neck all year. Sometimes he won, sometimes I won. This was the finals, we took off and I was watching him. And about 50 yards in, we were about neck and neck and I started to pull ahead. And for some reason, I pulled ahead far enough that it just became very clear there was no way he’s gonna catch up. He figured it out. And at that point, you could see he slowed down a little bit. And I was like, “Okay. I got this thing.” I slowed down a little bit, enough to keep in front of him but not a problem. And then I finally and I was watching him, there’s no question I’m gonna win. Here comes the finish line, look back to the finish line right in time to see the guy on my left blow past me. Because I got into the mistake of thinking better than is good enough. God doesn’t call you to be better than anybody, he calls you to do what’s right. God doesn’t reward better than, he rewards what’s right. And one of our greatest obstacles to growth as husbands and wives, as mothers and fathers, as teachers, as business employees, and business owners, as followers of Jesus, one of our greatest obstacles to growth is knowing that I’m better than somebody and taking a false peace from that.

So here’s a really important question to ask ourselves. Who do I think I’m better than? Who do you think you’re better than? And what growth is that keeping you from? Where has that become a false peace, a false comfort that’s allowed you to stay where you are rather than moving forward in everything that God’s calling you to? We’re told, we’re not to compare with each other. Ultimately, we’re to take a good pride in ourselves, a contentment that comes from knowing that we’re doing right. He says, “For each one should carry their own load.” I don’t know maybe when you heard that, you thought, well, that seems like a contradiction. He’s just told us we’re supposed to help others carry their burdens, we’re supposed to lift their loads, what’s this business about carrying our own load? And really, all he’s saying is, you kind of have to deal with yourself first before you can help somebody else out, right? Basically, what he’s saying is we have to be managing our own load before we can help someone else lift theirs. Which is very similar, if you think about it to a very famous parable that Jesus taught, even if you’ve never been in church before you may have heard this one. Jesus said, “Why are you so concerned about that speck that you find in someone’s eye when you’ve got a plank of wood sticking out of your own.” It’s a great mental image, right?

He said, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you can deal with the speck in somebody else. He didn’t say don’t deal with the speck, we’re supposed to help each other. As followers of Jesus, we’re all supposed to help each other take our next steps of becoming like Jesus, and joining him on mission, but we can’t help somebody else lift a load that they’re caught out from under if we’re not managing ours first. And so he says, you gotta stop thinking you’re better than and you gotta start leaning into this other-centered of the Spirit and making progress. And that’s the only way that you’re going to actually be able to help people.

And then he says, okay. Let’s talk about another practical way that you can indulge the other-centeredness of the Spirit. “He says, nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.” And that might feel a little bit like it comes out of nowhere, but the connection is, first off, again, this is another way to lean into or to indulge the other-centeredness of the Spirit. And he says nevertheless because he just said, each one should carry their own load. And then he goes, you know what? That makes me think of something. I know there’s a little bit of a problem there in Galatia. You’ve got Christian teachers who are working hard to teach you how to follow Jesus by teaching the Word of God.

And here’s the reality, I mean, I didn’t mean to speak the truth to you. I hope this doesn’t come across as self-serving. It’s just a reality. It’s that teaching the Bible effectively almost always requires teaching the Bible exclusively. It’s a full-time job. It has been really, for most of Christian history, doing it well requires a lot of focus. It’s not an easy thing to do. And so he said, here’s what’s happening, you got these people who are working, right? They’re giving their lives to you, teaching you how to follow Jesus using the Bible as the only authority and you’re not supporting them. So, they’re left scraping together a living, and ultimately, they’re probably not providing for their families well, and they’re not really providing the kind of teaching that you need because they’re not able to exclusively. And so he says, hey, listen, students should support their teachers. This is an application of this principle of other-centeredness. Students should support their teachers. By the way, that’s not just something we find here, we find it multiple times throughout the New Testament. Paul consistently encourages congregations and believers to make sure that they’re supporting their teachers. It’s actually a principle that was true throughout the ancient Greco-Roman world, people understood that teaching effectively is something that takes a lot of time, and so you should be supporting your teachers.

So, here’s the question, I think we probably all need to ask ourselves, and maybe I should have had somebody else teach this passage because I don’t want to look self-serving. But I think it’s an important application of what God says here is, is what I’m giving here appropriate to what I’m getting here? Think about the church that you’re part of, and that may be Mission Hills, but I know there’s people that may be joining us today from lots of other churches. And so this is not about Mission Hills. This is about this principle of being other-centered by students supporting their teachers. The question is, is what I’m giving here appropriate to what I’m getting here? And if the answer is no, then you need to indulge the other-centeredness Spirit by beginning to give more. Now, here’s an important thing to understand. When we talk about giving here at Mission Hills, when we talk about living generously here, we’re not just talking money. Like, every time we talk about giving here we say we are called to give generously, to live generously of our time, our talent, and our treasure. Treasure is the money part of it, okay? And we’re called to give generously of that, and sometimes what happens is, we focus on one or two of those and kind of forget the other. And so when I asked the question is what I’m giving here appropriate to what I’m getting here? We’re talking about in all three of those areas.

I’ll be honest with you, when I was early in ministry, we just did not have much money. And I kind of convinced myself well, I’m giving really generously of my time and my talent, therefore, I don’t need to give generously of my money, my treasure, but that was a mistake. And God convicted me about that even before we really had any money. And we started to give and I really do believe that God blessed that in many different ways. And many other people have had that same experience because I realized it’s not time, talent, or treasure. It’s time, talent, and treasure. Sometimes it goes the other way around, though, sometimes people go well, I give very generously of my money, but because I give very generously of my money, I don’t need to give generously of my time or my talent. I don’t need to serve in the church, I don’t need to serve as the church. I give money to make sure that that happens.

Again, it’s not time, talent, or treasure, it’s time, talent, and treasure. And so in all three of those areas we need to ask the question is what I’m giving here appropriate to what I’m getting here? Because this is an application is the way that we actually begin to train ourselves in being other-centered. And so let me ask the question I know many of you give very, very generously of your finances. For some of you that may be an area you need to lean into, but some of you are very generous in your finances. But when we ask the question, are you being as generous with your time and your talent?

Listen, if you are really good with kids, our Kids Team would love to talk to you about maybe joining the Kids Serve Team. If you’re naturally warm and outgoing, our guest services team would love to talk to you about joining our Guest Services Team. If you have a natural gift of compassion for people, our Life Center would love to talk to you about maybe joining the Life Center serve team. If you have a home, and you have the slightest gift of hospitality, a willingness to open that home, our Groups Team would love to talk to you about maybe hosting a Life Group this fall. Those are just specific ways that we begin to go, okay. It’s not just my treasure, but I also have a certain amount of time and a certain talent. All three of those areas have been gifted by God. And we begin to indulge the Spirit, the other-centeredness of the Spirit by asking in all those areas, is what I’m giving here appropriate what I’m getting here? And then taking steps where you realize maybe not as much as I should be.

Paul says, “Do not be deceived. Don’t be fooled. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh from the flesh will reap destruction. Whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. What’s interesting to me is that sounds a little bit like karma, doesn’t it? And here’s the thing, I don’t if you know this, but the devil is not that creative. What the devil tends to do is to take a truth, a biblical truth and twist it just a little bit. And the whole idea of karma, you know, karma says basically, the universe will give back to you what you’ve sent out into the universe. That’s not true at all. But it’s a twisting of a truth, which is that God rewards in ways that are similar to and appropriate to what we’ve sown, right?

Nobody plants corn and harvests wheat. It just doesn’t work that way, right? What we plant, what we sow tends to be what we get back and because it’s part of God’s economy. It’s the way that he works. And so what Paul says here and he’s really building upon what he said last week, is that, you know, if we give in to the self-centeredness of the flesh, if we sow that self-centeredness, what he said last week was if we bite and devour each other. If we look at each other as commodities to be consumed, they’re going to look at us the same way, and they’re going to bite and snap at us. And pretty soon, we’re just devouring each other in the spiral of self-destruction. And what we saw last week, is what that basically says is that self-centeredness is inherently self-destructive. The more self-centered we live, the less life we’ll actually experience. And certainly, the less of the life that God has designed us for that we’ll experience.

But the reverse is also true. This is the good side of it. This is the Good News. It’s that other-centeredness is inherently self-fulfilling. Other-centeredness actually leads to eternal life. Now, not because if we are other-centered, then God will reward that by saving us. That’s not the case at all. Salvation comes by faith in Jesus alone. Bedrock truth of this whole series, right? Believing in Jesus leads to belonging with God. It’s the only way to belong to God is believing. But after we belong to God, that experience of belonging begins to change the way we are behaving, and we’re moving in towards other-centeredness. And the more we do that, the more we begin to experience the life that God’s always intended for us. He calls it eternal life here, but eternal life in the Bible doesn’t just mean a quantity of life. It doesn’t mean you just get to live forever in heaven. It’s a quality of life. It’s the life that God designed us for. It’s a life full of peace and meaning, and joy, and significance.

And what Paul’s saying here is that we can actually begin to experience that even right here right now. Well, you know, it’ll be amped up, it will be, you know, that kind of life on steroids in eternity, but even now, we can begin to experience more of the life that God’s designed us for, but the only path to it is other-centeredness. That’s what the Spirit is leading us to. He says, well, let us not become weary in doing good. “Let’s not get weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. And therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

And I love that he said especially, he said, especially not exclusively. He said, start with other Christians. He kinda build up the muscles for serving others there, but he can’t stop there, it’s got to go out from there because there’s a harvest to be reaped. It’s interesting he uses that language, right? At the proper time we will reap a harvest. That’s the same language Jesus uses to talk about people sharing the Good News with the lost. He there’s a lot of people out there who need to hear that good news, and we’re workers in the harvest. He’s using that same kind of language Good News there because part of what Paul’s intending to say is this. It’s the good that we do for others that points them to the goodness of God. That’s really the bottom line of this whole section. The good we do to others points them to the goodness of God. It starts with believers. And the good that we do to each other as followers of Jesus reminds them of the goodness of their God, who’s for them, and who wants good things for them, and good things from them because they work together.

But it doesn’t just stop there, it moves out from there. The good that we do for non-believers also points them to the goodness of God. It’s the self-sacrificial good that we do for others that points them to the goodness of a God who loved us while we were yet sinners. Who loved us while we were in rebellion against him. And yet, because of his deep and abiding love for us sent his Son, Jesus, who died on the cross to pay for our sin, and then raised him to life and offers us salvation by faith, offers us the adoption to the family of God by faith, offers us the power of the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out all by faith. As we do good to other believers we remind them of that and as we do good to the non-believers, we also point them to that reality, which is their only hope of eternal life. The good we do to others points them to the goodness of God.

And so here’s the big question to wrestle with, not just to wrestle with but to do something about this week. What good is God calling me to do to point others to him? What good is God calling me to do to point others to him? Maybe it’s to come alongside a fellow follower of Jesus that you know is caught up in sin, and say, let me figure out how I can help lift the load to help you get out from under that and get back on track with the life that God’s calling you to. Maybe it’s a good that you can do to a non-believer. And of course, the greatest good that you can do for a non-believer is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, in some way to point them to the goodness of God, maybe that’s to actually share your story of how you came to be a follower of Jesus or maybe it’s to look at the upcoming series. We’ve got an interesting series coming this fall, it’s the Ten Commandments, but we’re going to pitch all of them positively.

So, it’s not just like don’t commit adultery, it’s going to be like how to build a marriage where adultery is not really even on the table. It’s not an option because you’ve built a marriage that God’s always wanted for you. So, maybe you look at a series like that, and you go, here’s an area that I think this truth would be of benefit to these people and inviting them to church. Maybe that’s the way you do it, but this is the question, what good is God calling me to do to others, point them to him? Maybe it’s to ask yourself that question is what I’m giving here appropriate to what I’m getting here and to lean in, in treasure, time, and talent, to do good in those ways to point others to the goodness of God. But ask yourself that question, figure out what it is, and do it. And in that way, you’re beginning to indulge the other-centeredness of the Spirit. And in that way, you’re beginning to turn down the voice of self-centeredness and up the voice of the Spirit who leads us. Would you pray with me?

God as followers of Jesus, we give you thanks for your goodness. We confess to you that the voice of selfishness is pretty loud. And in many ways, we have allowed ourselves to give in to that voice so that we’re still kind of caught in between hearing that voice but also this voice of your Spirit. And Lord, we want to turn down the volume on our self-centeredness. And so we thank you for your servant Paul and these very specific practical ways that we begin to practice other-centeredness. Holy Spirit, we invite you to do work in our lives right now, point out in these areas that we’ve been talking about where we need to take practical steps, practical steps of doing good to others. Not so that they think that we’re good, but so that they see that you are good. Speak to us about the particular ways that you want us to do good to others, to point them to your goodness. And then Lord, hound us until we do them. And then give us the next one, and hound until we do it. And give us the next one and keep after us until we do it. And so in that way we look back eventually and realize, hey, we have been walking by the Spirit serving others. Lord, for those who are listening to this message right now that are not followers of Jesus, we ask that you would speak to them right now. Give them an insight into your goodness.

And if that’s you, if you’re not a follower of Jesus, but you’re listening to this, what you need to hear today more than anything else is that God is good. We’re sinful. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God, we’re not naturally good, but God is. And because of his goodness and his love for you, he sent his own Son Jesus to die for you to pay the price of your sin, raised him from the dead, and he offers salvation by putting your trust in what Jesus did for you. And if you’ve never said yes to that, if you’ve never received the Holy Spirit that we’re talking about leading us, you can have all of that today, salvation, belonging to the family of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life to change. Simply by putting your trust in Jesus here’s how you do it, wherever you are just kinda have this conversation with God. Say:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’m selfish. I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. I believe you rose from the dead, and I’m ready to accept your gift of forgiveness, belonging to the family of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. So, Jesus, I’m putting my faith in you. I’m putting my trust in you. Jesus, I’m going to follow you from here on out. Amen.

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