Focus of a Healthy Church: Service

Title: Focus of a healthy church: Service

Text: 1 Corinthians 12-14

Introduction: Ps 119.18

This week, the Wall St. Journal published an article on Relationships by Jeffrey Hall. The Price We Pay for Being Less Social. Mohler: The argument (in the article) suggests that human beings are not just more dependent upon social media. They are actually far less involved in social interaction. Beyond that, they are really failing at relationality.

We don’t actually need a research project to tell us that young people are less socially relatable today than they were, say 30 years ago. If I understand the study correctly, it is of Gen Z and it is the same study taken 7 years ago on the same generation. 7 years ago, a study concluded that this generation was spending too much time online. It was thought that they couldn’t spend any more time online than they were. The scary part is that these young adults have only grown in the amount of time they spend online.

Hall writes: “There’s another way to look at this to see that this social trait is only part of the equation. In short, people are exhausting. Humans have an innate desire to conserve our energy in social interactions, and interacting with others takes work. It’s tiring to act in a certain way for the benefit of others. Sometimes people have disagreeable opinions or talk about uninteresting things.” He concludes, “When given a choice, people often prefer to just not deal with all that.” 

You think? I find it interesting, that the rest of the world finds it interesting – almost like we didn’t know this before.

What does this have to do with us? Well, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. I’m going to put you on the spot and ask you to finish my statement: Nothing in the church is more important than… relationships!

The reality of the church is that it is played out in and through relationships. That’s what 1 Corinthians is all about: Relationships!

I’ve created a diagram to put down on paper how those relationships work in a church. I hope you can see it. Every believer, here at Tarpley, should be involved in three areas in the life of a church: Worship (you’re here), Discipleship (Bible Study), and Service (ministry). That’s it! that’s what I’ve been encouraging believers for the past 15 years. When you come to church you should be involved in those three areas each week.

Today’s focus is on this 3rd area: Service. Paul breaks down the next three Chapters of 1 Corinthians (This morning we’re in chapters 12-14) into 5 bite-size teachings: There are 5 truths Paul teaches us about service.

Truth # 1: In Service there is

I. Unity in the midst of Diversity (12.1-11)

exp.: rd v4-6; 1 Chron 26.1; 11; 12; In Leviticus, as the people come together to build that tabernacle, God gifts them with people who can do different tasks. Each one is gifted with the ability to accomplish certain tasks. There is diversity within the whole. Your translation in our text might say ‘Division; Diversity; Variety’; Rd v 7; The gifts vary, the gifts differ, the gifts are divided up among the believers by God, who knows just what the body needs; One last note: Division or Variety or Different (3x’s in v 4-6), but one Holy Trinity! 

ill.: Consider a fellowship dinner – just the clean-up! Remember Acts 9? Saul, Saul, Why are you persecuting me? Who are you, Lord? I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

app.: The Body, we are the body; Paul understood this from the very beginning. We see that unity as a body in v 1-3; so here is this commonality, the one thing that unifies us – we’ve all surrendered our lives in service to Christ! This is our common bond. All of the gifts are given by the same Spirit – another thing we have in common. And we have the same Father who is the source of it all. The character of God – unity in the Trinity, is to be our character, too.

t.s.: In service, there is unity in the midst of diversity. Truth # 2: In Service there is

II. Mutuality in the midst of Variety (12.12-30)

exp.: each gift or member is in mutual dependence of all the others; rd v 12-18; I love that word arranged. In the Gk it is the word τίθημι – which means to place or put; he put us just where he chose. Often times the word ‘chose’ is translated from the word ‘elect(ion)’. Not so here, but rather it is the Gk word; θέλλω – which is translated as ‘will’ or ‘want’ or ‘wish’. Think about that: God places each member of the Body where he wills. He continues w/ the illustration of the eyes; rd v 21-25; (24) compose – to mix with; (v25) division is σχισμα

ill.: one of my all-time favorite stories is the story of the body that was walking on the railroad track. The body chose to let the eyes lead because they could see. But soon, the feet began to feel a vibration. They sent a message to the eyes with caution; The ears; but the eyes wouldn’t listen!

app.: In our service, there is a mutual need, inter-dependence upon all the various parts to make us function. We value each part!

t.s.: there is unity in the midst of diversity and mutuality in the midst of Variety and In service there is …

ΙΙΙ. Love as a Motive (13.1-13)

exp.: And we see that in Chapter 13 – the famous love chapter. Why? Because without Love, your service is meaningless; rd v 1-3; tongues; prophecy, understanding, knowledge, faith; generosity, martyrdom; nothing without love! Definition: Love is and love is not; rd v 4-7; Love is one of only a couple of things that we have right now, that will endure; rd v 8; our service here will one day end, but the love continues; our imperfection will end, when the perfect comes!

ill.: Christ w/ ch. 13; what about your name? 4 Becky is patient and Sheri is kind; Lisa does not envy or Sue does not boast; Linda is not arrogant 5 or Stephanie is not rude. Sam does not insist on his own way; Steve is not irritable or resentful;6Robert does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. 7Darilene bears all things, Clay believes all things, Ida Belle hopes all things, Tammy endures all things.

app.: Service is wonderful, but the motive for our service must be love…

t.s.: The 4th truth…. In service, there is

IV. Edification as a Result (14.1-26)

exp.: in the following verses, Paul compares the two gifts: tongues and prophecy; rd v 1-4; ill.: Mary (Laneheart), when she prayed. Paul is saying that selfishness has no place in service, but rather selflessness is for the building up of the body; and really, the edification and encouragement of the body is the goal. Rd v 12; Desire the gifts that build up the body, not the gift that glorifies yourself! Note:

  • Prophecy builds up the body – tongues are simply for oneself.
  • Prophecy benefits the unbeliever – tongues confuse him. Rd v 13-16; rd 22-23;

app.: and, isn’t this why these gifts are given – to serve the body and build it up? rd v 26; yes, your gift is needed here and it is useful here; if you think about it, there is no room for selfishness in the body, only that which edifies and strengthens us.

Plug: WEBS: Spiritual Gifts Assessment; Personality Assessment

t.s.: In service, there is:

  • Unity in the midst of Diversity
  • Mutuality in the midst of Variety
  • Love as a motive and edification as a result (and finally,
  • There is order, not chaos

V. Order, not Chaos (14.26-40)

exp.: review 26, rd v 27-28; tongues are out of place if there is no one to interpret – otherwise, someone is just showing off and drawing attention to himself.

ill.: Dime con quien andas y te digo quien eres.

And, drawing attention to yourself has no place in worship – for Worship is for the glory of God. Rd v 29-32; ill.: Have you ever noticed that no one speaks when I’m preaching? That comes from this practice – that we don’t cut each other off when we’re serving and giving our gifts. Each one has a place, no one talking out over another, let one finish; the key is found in v 33; our worship should mirror God’s Character – He is not a God of confusion! The author of confusion is Satan! Our God is a God of peace!

Paul then describes more order; Rd 33b-35; This almost sounds like a contradiction from ch 11 (remember, when a woman prays or prophecies – i.e., reads Scripture); but this is no contradiction; here the reference is to Authority; remember the context here is Order; 1 Tim 2.11-12; do you see the created order here? Adam was formed first, and the woman was deceived first; 

ill.: I love the ministry of women and women bring so much to this body through their gifts. Paul warns the Corinthians and us as well (rd 33b) that order should be guarded.

app.: Don’t get hung up on gender roles here – Don’t miss Paul’s point: God created order, it’s a part of his character and we are to reflect that Character in our orderliness; rd v 39-40; exercise your gifts, serve the body – that’s why God gave them to you – to build this body up – but keep it orderly and decent, for that reflects His Character.

t.s.: Max Lucado: Every Thursday during a Young Life summer camp, four hundred students make the fourteen-thousand-foot climb up Colorado’s Mount Chrysolite. Several Young Life leaders and I walk with them. (let me clarify: Max is wrong here. Chrysolite is only 12,822 ft. A tidy sum, but nowhere near the 14ers class.)

[On one of those trips], somewhere around the number four thousand, [a student named] Matthew decided to call it quits. I coaxed him, begged him, and negotiated a plan with him: thirty steps of walking, sixty seconds of resting. Finally, we stood within a thousand feet of the peak. But the last stretch of the trail rose up as straight as a fireman’s ladder.

We got serious. Two guys came up beside Matt, each taking an arm. I pushed from the rear. We all but dragged Matt past the timberline and to the awesome view at the top.

That’s when we heard the applause. Four hundred campers on the crest of Mount Chrysolite gave Matt a standing ovation. As I slumped down to rest, a thought steamrolled my way: There it is, Max, a perfect picture of my plan. Do all you can to push each other to the top. Was this a message from God? Well, it does sound like something he’d say.

Most of you know that I like to hike. I don’t think anyone here has encouraged me more than John Chunn. He used to loan me his Garmin and follow me on the internet, tracking my hike. Something I’ve learned is that you should never summit alone. You need a partner, or better, a team.


  • Are you hitting all three areas of involvement? Great rod to measure by.
  • Another measuring rod: in your service – do you facilitate order, or bring chaos; building others up or tearing them down; Q.: What’s your motive? Is it Recognition? Or Love? Do you find yourself a loner or mutually dependent? Does what you do through service bring unity to the body?

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Scripture, Sermon

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