Building up one another through service

November 10, 2008

by Pastor Orval Wirkkala, Apostolic Lutheran Church, Kingston

Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make they name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

John 7:38: “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

Romans 15:2: “Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.”

Ephesians 4:16 (ESV) “. . .from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

In the seasons of life there are many ups and downs, not only outwardly, but more so inwardly. Of course, everyone around us is able to see the outward ups and downs that we go through, but the inward struggles we all face and deal with are invisible to most of the eyes around us.

In fact, sometimes those closest to us may be oblivious to our inner struggles, due to our ability to hide and mask what is really going on inside. We seem to have a resistance to opening up with someone – yes, even our spouse at times – so that we would be able to have someone to share our burdens with, and thereby receive comfort, empathy, encouragement, counsel, and direction.

The four scripture references above give a brief outline: 1) of the promise of blessing recorded in the Old Testament which will come through Christ; and 2) of how from faith, love flows outward to others for the purpose of edification to individual persons or to those within our homes or congregations.

What do we do when we feel the inspiration to serve one another? What do we do when rather than willingly and joyfully serving others, we either do it grudgingly or not at all? How do we get out of a slump that we may find ourselves in? This is the real world, is it not!

1John 1:3-4 says, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”

Hebrews 10:23-25 says: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; [for he is faithful that promised]; and let us consider [focus upon] one another to provoke [encourage, stir] unto love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting [to come alongside] one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

What practical ways are we able to do these things? Let me leave all of us with one example, an inspiring real life example.

Recently, I received a gift in the mail from a close relative and I know that the gift I received is meant for support and encouragement, as well as inspiration. We might say that in the gift I received an affirmation of love, encouragement for today, and in addition, encouragement to continue into the future. I was, and am, encouraged, and that has led to inspiration to serve.

The giver exercises their gifts of love and encouragement by taking the time to give a gift to others. When we do not do this, we are, more or less, buying into the devil’s lie of serving ourselves. We then yield to the discouragement within ourselves, and slowly buy into the lie that nobody cares and we are alone. Then, we end up doing things, even good things, that in the end are less important than serving others.

May each one of us be blessed today with the assurance of God’s love and His acceptance. May we be encouraged in who we are in Him today, and may we be inspired to serve so that others may be built up in love, thereby strengthening and knitting His body closer together.