A message presented Sunday, July 26, 2020 at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH:
We are living in an exciting time! Yes, it is a time where we have seen a lot of upheaval and a good amount of change. In virtually every situation or circumstance, it’s better to take a positive or optimistic view because to do anything less may be unhelpful to your overall outlook. I tend to be a rather positive person, and I prefer to live with a philosophy of “the glass half full” instead of “the glass half empty.” It is all about your approach to life.
My wife and I have used this unusual time in our lives to do something that neither one of us had done together for a long time, and that involved taking walks around our neighborhood. We have been taking these walks relatively early in the morning before getting into our work day. It gave us the opportunity to walk, breathe in the air, enjoy the view of the trees and the early day sunshine, listen to the birds and contemplate the events of the day. We would also talk about the past and plan for our future. We have covered a number of subjects and we have had more conversations during these walks than those we were having while we were in the car together going back and forth across town for our jobs. In the car, I was often watching the traffic while she was concentrating on her phone. These walks have been quiet, peaceful and wonderful. We have been able to connect in a special way.
The pandemic has changed everything that we were doing, but the result has given us an exciting new outlook on life.
Glass half full.
Even during tough times and tough situations, there are good things that come out of them. Are you able to see things this way? Here’s an important point to consider: Not everyone sees things the same way that you do.
So with the knowledge that you are living in a pandemic, how is your present outlook on life right now? I’m not going to make any assumptions that everyone is doing great for you, or even just a little OK. It is worth exploring this because there are a number of people, maybe even very close to you, that just aren’t doing very well. Now this is not to be dismissed as a “glass half empty” approach to life. That would be unfair and insensitive. I challenge you to please look at this matter objectively with others who are in this experience and look at this with the desire to offer your help, care and concern.
While YOU may be doing OK each day, consider that others, as I stated earlier, may see life much differently right now than you do.
With that in mind, have you called a neighbor recently? Have you looked in on a friend? Have you reached out to someone that you haven’t seen for a while? Do you know what’s going on with that person?
With life’s obstacles, God provides us openings.
With life’s challenges, God gives us opportunities.
We have had to wear masks and actively implement the new phrase of the year, “social distancing.” But even under these protocols, we are discovering new ways to carry out what it really means to live in a Christ-like manner before others.
So, this message is certainly about having a personal, positive, “glass half full” approach to what is going on now, but I am stressing the importance that all of us reach beyond our own approach to life and go even further. We need to see that it is vital that we take the time to call someone, visit someone or just say hello to people that you know, or perhaps don’t know very well. We are to be the ones that don’t just talk about cups of water, but serves them in the form of the Living Water of Jesus Christ:
Matthew 10:40-42 ESV
40 “Whoever receives you receives me (Jesus), and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
People need to see the love of Jesus Christ come from you and me.
We can tell people that they need Jesus, but it is just as important that we live like Jesus so people can see Jesus in action.
This is much more than just a “glass half full” approach to life. People will come to Jesus when they see the importance of Jesus—the relevance of Jesus—the love of Jesus. If they already know Jesus, they are reminded of His love, His grace and His goodness.
Why is seeing Jesus, in both good times and not so good, so important for everyone? It’s because He is making Himself known in the power of the Holy Spirit in order to present Himself as our blessed hope.
Titus 2:11-14 CSB
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works.
The Spirit provides the information that we need to deal with life. He teaches us how to live and how to live before others. He is our blessed hope, and He shows us the importance of looking to Him and being obedient to His Word, and He also reminds us of how we are to look to others. By ministering to others, it helps those who are caught up in the cares of the world.
2 Corinthians 4:4-6 ESV
4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
So our role is to live in the image of God and reflect the light of the gospel and glory of Jesus Christ to others. We are privileged to carry this image of God by working in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our faith leads the way as we minister to others.
This is much, much more than showing others a glass half full positivity. It is to be a true helper in the faith for everyone we meet.
A helper in the faith.
What does it mean to be a helper in the faith? Let’s take the word “helper” and explore it with more depth and discover the characteristics of a helper of Jesus Christ in ministry to others. The character of God should come through your ministry to others in these characteristics.
The H in helper starts where we should always start in our encounters with others—it starts with humility.
Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
James 4:10 ESV
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
The first E in helper is for empathy. We need an injection of empathetic believers in the body of Christ. Practicing empathy is to be sensitive to another person, no matter what is going on in your life or in that other person’s life.
Romans 12:15 ESV
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
1 Peter 3:8 ESV
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
The L in helper is for listening. We need good listeners. Humble and empathetic people are very good listeners. It is very important to hear where a person is coming from in order to be effective in ministry.
Proverbs 18:13 ESV
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Proverbs 22:17-18 CSB
17 Listen closely, pay attention to the words of the wise,
and apply your mind to my knowledge.
18 For it is pleasing if you keep them within you
and if they are constantly on your lips.
The P in helper is for purposeful living. We are to be a help to others as we live a life of purpose for Jesus Christ, and we convey this same message to others as we show that they, too, are living for a reason and a purpose in Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-15 CSB
11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.
The second E in helper is for encouragement. When you call on someone, do not neglect the importance of encouraging one another. Kind words bring encouragement. God’s Word reminds us of how He encourages each one of us.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The R in helper is for respect. We are to treat everyone we encounter with respect, and this is more about whether you like the person or not. It is a necessity to have respect for others in ministry. Respect with sincerity is what we are all to practice in love—just as Jesus did.
Romans 12:9-10 ESV
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
As you can see, the help that you provide in the faith is beneficial to not just the recipient of your kindness, but it also reflects the love of Jesus Christ and gives God the glory. This is what you want people to see. This is what your reason and purpose is for living! As we are helpers in the faith, we are giving God the glory and providing direction as to how we are all to live for Jesus Christ.
There is no better time than right now to reach out to someone who really needs to hear from you. Take that time to call on someone who needs to hear about the love of Jesus Christ.
As you move in the power of the Holy Spirit, be a helper in the faith to others. It is the ultimate way to honor and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 22:36-40 CSB
36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”