This week, we’re continuing our message series as we go through the parables of Jesus and learn from Him how to truly live life to its fullest.
A parable is a simple story that illustrates a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus said that He taught using parables so that the secrets of His Kingdom would only be understood by those seeking after this revelation.
Last week, we began to focus on the value that we place on the Kingdom of Heaven. We began learning how we can practically be rich toward God and invest in His Kingdom. Jesus gave us these parables to teach us the value that we ought to place on the kingdom of heaven:
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Our first point last week was how we place a value on the kingdom of heaven through our generosity. Living life with the reality that everything is God’s in mind helps us to be less stingy and more generous with everything in life, not only our finances.
This week, we’re moving on to some other ways in which we can be rich toward God and assign value to the kingdom of heaven.
We can invest in the Kingdom of Heaven by our service to God and to others.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
To be like Jesus is to serve those around us. Sure, we provide opportunities for this in the church by serving in our multitude of ministries. However, we are called to have the same servant-attitude as Jesus had meeting the needs of anyone around us. To be a follower of Jesus is to be a minister, which simply means to be a servant.
Whether in this building or not, we are to be the church wherever we go serving the needs of others just as Jesus did. This means that wherever we are, we ought to be mindful and intentional about ways to serve those around us. This can be anything from pushing someone’s shopping cart back for them, taking them a meal, calling them to see how they are doing, or anything else that the Spirit may lead us to do.
Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25, that to serve someone even in the smallest of ways such as to give them a glass of water or to visit them, is to serve Him. In reality, God needs nothing; He does not need our service. For us to serve God is an honor and a privilege. It gives us an opportunity to assign value and worth to His Kingdom. To care for His creation blesses Him and certainly blesses us as well. To serve others is to be physical representatives of Jesus to them.
Some of us may need this reminder this morning:
10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
God remembers the times that we serve others and can even lead to the receipt of His promises. Sometimes, we serve and serve and it feels like it does not matter. His word encourages us to keep on loving, keep on diligently serving, and it will be rewarded by God who sees it all.
Of course, when we’re serving, we want to do so with the right attitude and motive as well. We serve others out of gratitude of what Jesus has done for us. We serve because of the example that He set not only by His lifestyle of service, but by His death done to serve our needs. To keep this in mind helps us not to grow weary in doing good, but to serve with an always fresh zeal and love for Jesus and, as a result, for others.
10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Finally, we serve others within our own individual capabilities and giftings. For me to serve someone by replacing their roof would, in reality, be a huge disservice. Though we are all called to serve others, we’re only called to serve them within our ability that God gives us. Just a few verses before this call to keep our spiritual fervor while serving others, Paul reminds us that:
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
1 Peter 4:10
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
We invest in the Kingdom of Heaven by serving those around us.
3. No Debt
Speaking of investing in the Kingdom of Heaven, we almost have to touch on this one subject so common to our current culture: debt.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Notice that this verse doesn’t teach that we should never, ever take on debt, only that we should not allow it to remain outstanding. There may be occasions in this life when we take on debt, but we should be able to easily repay it and preferably, to pay it back ahead of schedule. A huge part of avoiding debt is our mindset and attitude about earthly things. The attitude that we are to have toward them is contentment.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
We won’t go very deep into this subject because it really is a simple one. As far as debt is concerned, avoid it if at all possible. If you have found yourself overwhelmed by debt, well, God’s word has advice for you in that situation as well. If you gave your word, usually in the form of a signed application, and cannot repay on schedule, God’s word says this:
1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
2 you have been trapped by what you said,
ensnared by the words of your mouth.
3 So do this, my son, to free yourself,
since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go—to the point of exhaustion—
and give your neighbor no rest!
4 Allow no sleep to your eyes,
no slumber to your eyelids.
5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the snare of the fowler.
We invest in the Kingdom of Heaven by avoiding debt and getting free from any that we’ve incurred.
4. Passing on our Faith
This is the most critically important way that we can invest in the Kingdom of Heaven. It is one of the most important things that we can do as a Christian. This is to leave our legacy by passing on our faith to those around us, especially to the generations following us.
2 Timothy 1:5
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
The Bible often teaches us to pass along our faith to future generations as well as to all those around us. To invest in someone’s future and the future generations is never a waste. Little did Lois know, but her choice to pass along her faith to her daughter and her grandson resulted in the raising up of a powerful leader in the church who would be spoken of for all time.
Don’t ever take lightly those dinner table conversations, or serving in the toddler room, or splitting green beans with grandma. In those times, faith is being transferred. An investment is being made into the Kingdom of Heaven as faith is being transferred to others.
Paul wrote this reminder to the church in Corinth:
2 Corinthians 3:1-3
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
As we go about our everyday lives, we have the divine opportunity to write upon the hearts of those around us. What story are we telling? What about God are we writing into the lives of others? When others look at the people that we invest in, what do they see about God? Do they see the writings of the Holy Spirit as He works in their lives through ours?
Passing along our faith isn’t difficult. Look to the example of Jesus. He simply lived life together with His disciples and answered their questions as they arose. Watch a game together, sit down for lunch, work on a project together.
Time spent together is the biggest requirement for the transference of faith. It may not seem like you are meeting for a spiritual purpose, but when we live for Jesus, everything becomes ministry. Teachable moments can be found everywhere and the most impactful ones rarely require words.
We invest in the Kingdom of Heaven by passing on our faith.
Just like the person who found a hidden treasure and the one who found the pearl of great price, we want to be ones to realize the value of the Kingdom of Heaven. We want to be ones whose lives clearly reveal just how precious and important it is to us and how much it means to us what Jesus has done for us. Let’s get out there, investing in the Kingdom of Heaven and living lives that clearly display the worth and value that we place on it!