Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

09/11/2019

Randall Caselman

 

Loving, Caring, Serving, Restoring

 

  I’ve been asked to share some of the thoughts I presented Sunday Morning…

 

  We start with the idea that: The church of God is a family, God’s family, His household. We are a community, a fellowship where there is togetherness, one anotherness.

 

  Even though we’re a mixture of people with different personalities, different backgrounds, from different parts of the country, with different ideas, different convictions, different faults, different needs; we 're family! And we enjoy being together because we have a common faith in God and love for Jesus. A love that transforms us into being like Him, loving and caring for one another, and others!

 

  Here is something else we have in common… we all fail!! At-One-Time-Or-Another, all of us find ourselves in need of someone who will become our helper, healer, restorer; someone who will come along side us, pick us up, dust us off, mend our wounds, carry our burdens, nurse us back to spiritual health.

 

  Remember me telling you about an Elder at Center Street, Ralph Terry? Georgia and I had quit going to Bible class, we were missing some Sunday and Wednesday evening Bible Classes; Ralph came one Sunday afternoon. I knew why he was there. He didn’t have to say anything. He just loved us, encouraged us, and lifted us up, set us back on the road. Thank God for such men and women in our lives, Amen?

 

  Well, loving, caring, serving one another is as old as time itself: It was Cain who asked in Genesis chapter four, “Am I my brother’s keeper.” The answer was evident before God; Yes! Yes!! Nothing, nothing becomes more plain than the fact that, as God’s children, we are to look out for one another.

 

• Proverbs 17.17 reads, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

 

• Matthew 22.37 & 38 has Jesus saying:  We are to "love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul. And to love our neighbor as ourselves."

 

• Matthew 7.12 says… We are to "treat others, as we would have them treat us.”

 

• Philippians 2.4 has Paul insisting that we "place the interest of others before our own."

 

  Church, this is not a suggestion, it’s a command! We are to be like Jesus, consider others before ourselves. "Our attitude must be like that of Jesus. He did not consider equality with God something to be held on to, but emptied himself...taking on the very nature of a servant. 

 

• Galatians 6.1-5, 9-10...“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load… Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those belong to the family of believers."

 

Let’s see what we can learn about

loving, caring, serving, restoring one another…

 

  First, we must be spiritual. "You who are spiritual should restore him." Paul didn’t say we must be perfect. Spirituality must not be equated with perfection. The spirituality that Paul speaks of can be found in the last verses of the previous chapter: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." No! We may not possess all the Fruit of the Spirit all of the time. None of us have been completely transformed into the image of His Son. But we are working at it. This is spirituality, our being formed into the image of Jesus. It is a present and an ongoing event.

 

  Secondly, we must be humble. Paul says each of us, as restorers, must watch ourselves, lest we also be tempted. We are all susceptible! Paul says: watch how you see yourself. We must not think ourselves to be something special. “Do not think of yourselves more highly then you ought” (Romans 12.3). A restorer can’t be self-righteous. We must be people of humility. When a brother senses one's self-righteous attitude, they just naturally shrink back, unwilling to accept our help, encouragement, or direction.

 

  We must be gentle. “You who are spiritual should restore him gently.” There’s no place for a mean, harsh spirit in restoration work. If we have a mean spirit; if we are always finding fault with others; if we are critical and judgmental of others; if we are listening to and passing on gossip; if we have a loose tongue, we have no place as a restorer. It was said of Jesus that "a bruised reed He would not break, a smoldering wick He would not snuff out." Hardball is out... Gentleness is in.

 

  We are to be persistent. “Let us not become weary in doing good.” Let us not give up this work of bringing souls back into an intimate relationship with their Father God and His people. Why? “For we will reap if we faint not." There is a blessing for those who will love, care and serve the Jesus in others. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers".

 

  I know there are some of you who are trying to help restore someone right now. And I know you are tired: Tired of being used. Tired of their excuses. Tired of the manipulation. Tired of trying and trying and trying. But we must be like our Father God, never, never give up.

 

  Allow me to end with a neat story about how each of us should behave toward one another...

 

  A Marine walked into the ICU Unit. A nurse met him at the door saying, “Your father has had a serious heart event, and could die at any moment. The Marine stood in the room for a moment surveying the situation, took the dying man’s hand; there were mutual squeezes in affirmation of love and presence.

 

  Through the night, the nurse encouraged the soldier to leave: get something to eat or drink, he never moved, just continued to hold the man’s hand. At morning’s first light, the nurse hurries into the room saying; "Your father has passed."

 

  Releasing the man’s hand, the Marine said,"Who is this man?" The nurse was startled. “Why, he’s your father!!”“Not my father, I’ve never seen this man before in my life." The nurse said, “Well, why didn’t you tell me?” The Marine replied: “As I entered the room: I assessed the situation; saw the need; this man needed a son; he was much too sick to know who I was; knowing how much he needed me, I stayed."

 

  Wow…. I gotta tell you folk, this is what loving, caring, serving, others is all about! Seeing the need and serving! Seeing the need and staying. “As oft as you do it to the least of these, you do it to me.”

 

—Randall Caselman