What is a good investment today? Several strong companies that enjoyed a superior reputation a year ago are now struggling to survive. Financial investing has always been risky, and the risk has increased with a volatile world economy.
An investment that always provides a positive return is investing in the lives of people for the glory of Christ. Almighty God promises a reward for our service if we stay faithful in serving Christ (Gal. 6:7-9). Numerous passages of Scripture challenge believers to serve. Some describe the special gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit to equip us for effective ministry. Today's message focuses on the heart of ministry as modeled by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 20:28-34.
I. Slow down
Jesus' encounter with two blind men on the Jericho road reveals several key principles for investing our lives in others. First, we must slow down. Matthew 20:32 says, "Jesus stopped". What appears to be a rather simple fact is actually a significant step in serving others. Jesus was leaving Jericho. He had another appointment. He had already spent time ministering in Jericho, and now he was going to another town. But, he stopped!
Our pace of life often becomes so fast that we speed past ministry opportunities. Jesus stopped. He slowed down. He allowed His temporary schedule to be interrupted for an eternal investment.
II. See the big picture
To minister effectively we must embrace a servant philosophy. The Bible says, "Consider others as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). The opening verse of our text describes the glorious Son of Man as one who came to serve not to be served. The big picture of life is far greater than our personal desires and dreams.
When we see the big picture, we notice that all people are important to Christ. Mark's gospel identifies one man as Bartimaeus. The other man remains unknown. Jesus did not show favoritism to a respected family in the community while ignoring the needs of ordinary or lesser known people. Jesus demonstrates amazing love to all who call upon His name.
Several years ago, I visited the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany where Martin Luther nailed the historic 95 theses to the church door. Inside the church, I was surprised to find two burial plots in the church floor located between the front pew and the altar. One tombstone was Luther's. The other grave was for Phillip Melancthon. I knew Luther. He was the hero of the Reformation. Luther was a fiery preacher and scholar who inspired a national revolt against the abuses of the Catholic Church.
Who was this other man? Melancthon, I later learned, was a powerful force of the Reformation. He served behind the scenes. Melancthon was a frail, short man, and he stuttered when he spoke. He was Luther's closest friend. He provided tremendous scholarship and assistance for Luther's New Testament translation. When Luther died, Melancthon delivered the funeral message. A few years later, the soft-spoken scholar was buried beside the famous hero of the Reformation.
Melancthon's story illustrates two significant truths. First, we should reach out to all people. Luther was strong, tall, and a powerful communicator. Melancthon was the opposite, yet both made great contributions. James 2:1-13 warns churches about showing favoritism to those with appealing material attributes. Second, every child of God should be encouraged to learn that if God can positively change the world with a short, frail, stuttering man like Melancthon, God can use you. God specializes in doing extraordinary things with ordinary people.
III. Serve with compassion
Jesus modeled genuine service by slowing down and seeing the big picture. He also served with compassion. "Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes" (Matt. 20:34). Many seek the applause of men instead of the approval of God. Jesus did not serve for compensation. These blind men begged for mercy. They did not offer to pay Jesus for healing. Christ-honoring service is motivated by compassion - not compensation. Our reward has been reserved for us in heaven because no bank on earth could contain the incomparable riches of serving Christ.
In his excellent book on service, Charles Swindoll shares a convicting anecdote of the way we often approach Christian service (Swindoll, Improving your serve, Word Books, 1981, p.29).
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
We are called to serve as Christ served. The cost is far greater than $3, but the rewards are out of this world! Today you need to allow the hand of God to slow you down, open your eyes, and touch your heart that you might serve like Christ.