By: Deacon Ben Remmert
Isaiah 66:10-14 Galatians 6:1-16 Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
As I was preparing to write today’s sermon, I came across an article on my Facebook page entitled 20 Actors who Missed Out on Epic Film Roles. It was a fascinating reading how:
- 1.Hugh Jackman turned down the role of James Bond in Casino Royale because the script felt unbelievable.
- Robert De Niro was too expensive for the lead role in Big.
- Mel Gibson felt he was too old to play Maximus in Gladiator.
- Al Pacino passed on being Han Solo in Star Wars for being too weird.
- Johnny Depp passed on playing Ferris Bueller due to schedule conflicts.
We all have opportunities that we’ve missed in our lives. Opportunities in school, at work, in love. Just like these actors, we don’t always make the most of every opportunity. Well, this morning we are going to see that God gives us opportunities to serve our fellow man and God wants us to make the most of every opportunity through today’s message in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
God has blessed us with the knowledge of faith in Jesus Christ. We are here today to praise and glorify God. But, for what other purpose has God called us? How should we handle a Christian brother or sister who has gone astray? What should we be doing? And why should we be doing it?
God has not only called us to faith, we are also called to do the will of God. Jesus made God’s will quite clear when he gave the simple command “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are not here only to serve ourselves; we are also here to serve others. Our motives, our desires, our dreams should come forth in everything we do. They should be derived from our faith, and not merely a side note to it. If we are truly pure in our motives, it will show forth in our actions. A simple line from a popular hymn that we often sing at Lutherhill comes to mind, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
But, how we show that love, is up to us. We all display our faith differently. We all have our own relationship with God. All of us have needs and desires as well as our own set of talents and capabilities. God has given us the tools to do many things. And we all have something to offer to someone else.
At the beginning of Chapter 6, Paul writes about helping other people. Even the most faithful will fall occasionally and require assistance to get back up. All of us should be willing to help our fellow person, who need a hand. And especially when that problem is a spiritual one. How many times have we heard of some church or some church member doing something that was contrary to God’s word? Gossip is one example that seems to run in many churches from time to time. How hard is it to control the tongue? Even more difficult is it to speak out against it.
Paul writes, “if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.”
This is talking about restoring someone who has committed trespass. This is talking about repairing a person’s heart who may have strayed from the will of God. This doesn’t mean we condemn the sinner. We condemn the sin, but we accept the sinner. Paul has a warning, don’t be tempted to commit the same sin. Just as a doctor can become sick from treating an ill patient, we too must take precautions to ensure our own spiritual health. The simplest way is to test what we do and examine our own motives. Does it meet the commands that God laid out for us? Do our actions help others feel the love that God has for them?
There will be times when we can be that assistance that another needs. We can be that shoulder to lean on. In other times, we may be that person in need of a shoulder. What seem like overwhelming problems could be the opportunity for us to step in and help. Sometimes, being a listening ear is all that is required. In other cases, perhaps we need other ways to deal with the problem. The situation wasn’t all that different in Galatia. Paul saw this and told them to bear one another’s burdens to fulfill the law of Christ. The situation isn’t different today. How we assist, or how we ignore other’s problems is what the community sees. Do we talk one way and act another? Or are we willing to talk the talk and walk the walk.
We have been commanded to do good things. In Deuteronomy 15:7-8 it says: “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.”
In Matthew 25:30-40, Jesus speaks to those who are saved. In this discussion, He shows clearly what is good. Jesus said: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’… ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
So, we find Paul write in Galatians 6:10, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.” When Paul asks us to bear one another’s burdens, he was speaking from the knowledge given to him by God. Jesus made it clear that we were to assist strangers. Those who we do not know will require our help, and we are to give what we can. Food, clothing, shelter, money, and support are all directly mentioned. Even more importantly, we are to dedicate our time and talents and we are to do it willingly.
There are opportunities all around us. I’m sure we can all think of people at work, at school, or in our neighborhoods who need someone to talk to. Talk to them. There are some in hospitals and prisons who have no-one to visit them. Visit them. There are hungry and homeless people throughout the world. Provide for them. There are those who do not understand the love of God. Teach them. Our church and our communities need help constantly. One way or another, we are to find a way to use our God given talents to serve those who need our help; to use our talents where they can best serve God’s people. It is this movement of faith into action that Paul is writing about.
I think all of us can relate with these concepts of helping one another out. I’m sure everyone in this room has either been in need or been the giver of assistance. But we are often selfish about when we choice to give out that need. Do we lend a helping hand to the ungrateful? Do we lend a hand to the stranger? Do we lend a helping hand when it goes against our schedules? Do we lend a helping hand to those of a different political party?
Paul says it clearly “let us not grow weary of doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Just as Jesus said we are to forgive those who sin against us, so we should help others continually. Ultimately, it comes down to following the example of Christ. Jesus accepted outcasts into his close group of followers. But He never accepted the sin. He gave all he had to assist those in need. Eventually, He gave His life, for redemption of the sins of you and me.
Just as the seventy others that Jesus appoints in our Gospel lesson, we are being sent out into the community to share the peace of God. Jesus reminds us that this work we do not do alone, but it is through the Holy Spirt that we are called, gathered, and empowered to share God’s love by sharing each other’s burdens and being there for those who are in need. In this time this week, this is most important lesson for all of us as we leave here today. Let us make the most of every opportunity to give glory, honor, and credit to God. Let us make the most of every opportunity to support and care for all people despite our differences. Brothers and sisters, let us make the most of every opportunity to love, just as Jesus does for all of us. Amen.