I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
Sinkholes are a commonplace infrastructure problem in metro Atlanta. But did you know that, internally, many of us deal with moral and spiritual sinkholes that impact our lives?
A physical sinkhole can appear out of nowhere and cause destruction. The same is true with spiritual and moral sinkholes. One moment you’re walking on solid ground. Nothing is shifting beneath your feet. Then all of a sudden, you begin to fall into a consuming sinkhole that goes by countless names, from doubting our faith to the allurement of sin.
Spiritual sinkholes have severe consequences and directly impact our relationship with others, yet we fail to recognize them. We end up being stuck and swallowed up in them, and we don’t see a way out.
These spiritual sinkholes are more prevalent than we think. Many of us have things happening beneath the ground that only God sees. We can pretend everything is fine on the surface, but God sees what’s happening under the landscape of our lives.
We all have sinkholes. We all have something that’s trying to swallow us. Here’s a few biblical examples:
- Adam and Eve, a sinkhole of disobedience
- Cain, a sinkhole of envy and jealousy against his brother Abel
- Abraham, a sinkhole of lies as he tried to protect his wife, Sarah
- Moses, a sinkhole of anger when he hit the rock
- Samson, a sinkhole of pride and sexual temptation
- Saul, a sinkhole of jealousy and disobedience
- David, a sinkhole of adultery and murder
- Solomon, a sinkhole of idolatry and disobedience
- Jonah, a sinkhole of rebellion
- Peter, a sinkhole of denial
In Psalms 40:2, David talks about being trapped in a spiritual and moral sinkhole. He referred to the sinkhole as a miry bog. You can’t fall in a sinkhole without getting dirty. But God lifted him and placed David’s feet on solid ground.
If there’s any place that we’d like God to place our feet, it ought to be on a firm foundation - His firm foundation. Let’s look at the things we must consider about sinkholes.
THE SINKHOLES THAT SWALLOW US
Some of the challenges that we're dealing with are pre-existing. Once they begin to exasperate, the pre-existing fractures and cracks. The fissures can’t be seen above ground. They’re hidden under dirt, and they don't become exposed until they implode.
Spiritually speaking, sinkholes come as a result of different life circumstances, habits, beliefs, and dispositions that can cause a person's relationship with God to deteriorate and weaken, leading to the foundation of their lives caving in.
THE NATURE OF SINKHOLES
- Sinkholes are Ubiquitous
Sinkholes are everywhere. They’re ubiquitous because they are widespread. They affect everyone, regardless of spiritual beliefs or background. Sinkholes are caused by various factors, like trauma, loss, existential crises, disillusionment about your faith, or even a conflict between your personal values and spiritual teachings.
As a result, sinkholes can be manifested in different ways, such as a loss of meaning and purpose. A person begins to sink into a hole when they begin to lose sight of their purpose, leading to spiritual emptiness and, sometimes, loss of faith.
- Sinkholes are unique
Spiritual sinkholes are unique from person to person, often the result of individual circumstances and experiences. While some spiritual sinkholes may be familiar to many, each person may have a different type of sinkhole they're dealing with. Factors like personality, life experiences, upbringing, and beliefs all contribute to the formation of spiritual sinkholes that are unique to each person.
- Sinkholes are often undetectable
Sinkholes are often undetectable, undiscussed, and unacknowledged until it's too late, and they start caving in. Why do sinkholes go undetected?
One reason is a lack of awareness. Many are unaware of the signs or symptoms of a spiritual sinkhole, so they don’t know what to look for. Some of us have seen signs or indicators, but we brush them off because of the lack of awareness.
Second, the ego defense mechanism is what we use to protect ourselves from perceived threats. Ego defense mechanisms are also called denial. We keep telling ourselves we’re fine, even though we’re not. We’re hurting, but we want to pretend we’re not, and we go through life with our ego defense mechanism fully operative.
Third, sinkholes go undetected due to a lack of support or the fear of stigma. We don’t want to talk about it because we don’t want to be judged or shamed, so we keep it to ourselves. We go through a personal crisis alone, isolated, and unsupported.
The result? Habituation. We end up going deeper and deeper into our sinkhole, normalizing living within our sinkholes. We’re not even bothered. We just learn to live with it until our lives cave in.
- Sinkholes unfold
There’s always things that trigger the unfolding of a sinkhole. For example, someone mentions a name, and you lose your cool. At some point, you’ve got to deal with that sinkhole. Don’t let it take away your joy and peace.
Did you know you never fall down a sinkhole alone? There’s always collateral damage. Just a thought can easily trigger sinkholes and cause widespread damage. Your sinkhole is causing somebody else to sink, too. It's the Jonah effect. Jonah was the disobedient one, but everybody else on the boat with him was in the storm. You can be in a sinkhole, and it causes your kids to sink, your marriage to sink, etc.
The hardest part of helping people overcome their sinkhole is convincing them they’re in one. If you're sitting here saying that you aren’t in a sinkhole, the name of your sinkhole is called pride and self-righteousness.
We all have sinkholes, and over the next eight weeks, I want to help us get out of eight different sinkholes. Let us pray that God would will lift us out of our sinkholes and help us to come to terms with the fact that we're in one.
May God help us to come to a place that we stop with our ego defense mechanisms and start a sense of awareness.
God, help us to be honest and truthful that we are in a sinkhole. Thank You, that like David, You
can lift us up and place our feet on a firm foundation.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly, there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound, the multitude came together, and they were bewildered because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear each of us in his own native language?
“Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
Pentecost Sunday is the day we celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit. We also use this time to celebrate the official birthing of the New Testament Church, when the Holy Spirit empowered believers to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ worldwide.
Pentecost represents harmony and expansion and demonstrates the unity and diversity of the early church. For us, Pentecost is not simply a historical celebration, but rather a reminder and a celebration that God gave us the gift of His Spirit to empower us and guide us each day.
Today is quite simply a celebration of the Holy Spirit's presence, guidance, and power in our daily lives. It enables us to live out our purpose.
God mapped out our lives so that we would succeed in every vantage point of our lives, and He gave us His Spirit to empower us for the journey.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit Fulfilled
We see in Acts 2:1-4 the culmination of God's promises to pour out His Spirit on those who believed. We already know that God will do what He said He would do. The text shows that those in the upper room didn’t just stumble upon the fulfilled promise, but positioned themselves to be ready to receive God’s promise.
Here’s our challenge: God always handles His part, but we often neglect to be in a position to receive what God has promised and prepared for us. So how did the disciples prepare themselves?
They positioned themselves to receive the promise in two ways.
Everyone who gathered in the upper room had the same agenda. They positioned themselves to receive in unity, gathering around a singular purpose. They were going to obey Jesus’ command and wait for the promise of the Spirit. There were no side agendas.
Something powerful happens when the people of God come together in unity. The enemy fights hard to divide us because he recognizes that we would be unstoppable if galvanized around a single purpose.
While the people of God gathered in unity, they also gathered in prayer. Jesus was no longer on the earth. They had witnessed Jesus’ death and burial. They needed the Lord’s advocate to do the assignment He had given them. They had a God-sized problem and, therefore, needed a God-sized response.
In some situations, you’ll find that God and God alone is the solution. While you can appreciate help from your brothers and sisters in Christ, you need the power of the One, Whose power is inexhaustible.
Those in the upper room weren’t just quietly waiting for the Holy Spirit's arrival but were inflamed with the faith-filled expectation that God would honor His word. Through this passage, we know that God kept His word and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit just as He had promised.
The Presence of the Holy Spirit Revealed
In Acts 2:3-4, we see the tangible manifestation of the Holy Spirit through the tongues of fire that rested on each of them, painting a picture of God’s abiding presence and signifying the personal and powerful presence of God through the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.
We continue to have the gift of God’s abiding presence within us—reason enough for us to praise God for Pentecost. The gift of His abiding presence assures us of absolute and certain victory. Because God is with us, we cannot fail. When we get into His presence, we get everything that comes with His presence.
His Cleansing Presence
God has vowed to be with us. We get not just His abiding presence but His cleansing presence. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. He leads us into truth, refines our character, and conforms us to the image of Christ.
His Unifying Presence
The tongues of fire on each individual’s head symbolize the individual’s experience of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. The fire was not limited to one person, but distributed to everyone there. We are all filled with the same Holy Spirit that transcends differences and creates a diverse yet unified body of Christ.
The Guidance of the Holy Spirit
We see the guiding work of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:12-15, and we even see it today because the Holy Spirit will always provide clarity and insight. There is no confusion when the Holy Spirit is involved.
The Power of the Holy Spirit
In Acts 2:14, we see the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in a boldness that Peter would not have otherwise had as he stood boldly and courageously before thousands declaring the oracles of God.
A boldness comes upon you as a result of the Holy Spirit that you can’t get anywhere else. The boldness of the Holy Spirit allows you to face fear and still show up for the job.
It’s not about the absence of fear, but being able to stand in the courage and boldness of God because the God we serve is bigger than anything. You are never outmatched as long as God is on your side.
The Force Multiplying Power of the Holy Spirit
A force multiplier is a combination of factors that allow machines or weapons to accomplish greater feats than without it. In Acts 2:14-36, Peter, empowered by the Holy Spirit, delivers a message that details the promise of the Holy Spirit, the finished work of Jesus, and the grace available to all humanity for salvation.
We are expected to show up for God’s assignments. However, the power of the Holy Spirit is the force multiplier and takes what we do and multiplies the outcome to be greater than anything we could ever have done on our own.
We don’t get absolved from the work, but the Holy Spirit empowers us for the job, strengthens us, and makes us more effective.
This is why we are thankful for Pentecost. This is why we praise God because God, in His faithfulness, gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now, we can do far beyond what we could do on our own because God is with us and in us.
We don’t have to accomplish God’s purpose through our own strength, but through the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. Give God praise that He is the God that cannot fail, and let’s thank God for the gift of His presence.
The power of the Holy Spirit is with us daily, wherever we are and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.
Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the force multiplier, and let us continue honoring His presence and guidance.
Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb, the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-Barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, yet I wholly followed the Lord my God.
“And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as He said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel walked in the wilderness.
“And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”
Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, for an inheritance. Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb, the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-Arba. And the land had rest from war.
The affirmation “God isn’t through with me yet” is based on a simple theological premise that God created us with a mission and purpose. We were born with a seed of promise and a dream that God is still at work on something greater in our lives.
Now let's really dig into this phrase: God is not through with you. That means you can no longer sit around stationary and have a lackadaisical disposition. God has more for you to accomplish!
Previously, we established that God is not done with you if you’re not dead. There is still an unaccomplished mission, vision, and dream God has for your life as long as you draw breath.
Caleb’s life is recorded in Numbers 13 and Joshua 14. In our passage, we see that Caleb is 85 years old. He’s at an age where the average person would have checked out of life mentally, psychologically, vocationally, and perhaps, even physically.
But Caleb is still alive and still has his dreams and aspirations. Even after 45 years, he still has the same vision of possessing the Promised Land and the particular mountain known as Mount Hebron.
Out of all that he could have asked for, he wants Mount Hebron. Caleb’s life teaches us that age is just a number, and it is never too late to pursue your dream. Caleb refuses to allow his age to confine or define him. He also refuses to let any opposition or fear stop him.
As we consider Caleb’s life, we discover several key points related to his tenacity and disposition—in fact, the Bible distinguishes him as “one who has another spirit.” An example of his tenacity is in Numbers 13, where he and Joshua have the “Yes, we can!” mentality while the other ten spies are shrouded in fear.
We discovered a few weeks ago a few other things about Caleb. First, that he possessed a vision of the future from God. Like Caleb, we have to believe that God has a future for our life, and we need to know there is so much more that God wants to do in and through us.
When we have a vision of God’s preferable future for our lives, we must maintain that God-given vision for our future regardless of the audience that tries to discourage us.
We must also possess a vision, regardless of our age that could discredit us. If you’re not careful dealing with the people around you, you could get in your own head and talk yourself out of what God seeks to bring you into.
Third, you must hold on to God’s vision tenaciously, regardless of the adversities that try to dispirit you. Most people walk away from their vision because they see a wall blocking them, or they see warfare and are unwilling to fight for it.
PROFESS A VIBRANT FAITH IN GOD
God is not done with you yet, so you must possess a vision of the future from God, and not only that, but also profess a vibrant faith in God. What was the difference between Caleb and the ten spies? Joshua and Caleb had faith, while the ten had fear. The danger is making the false assumption that the majority rules.
There are moments when you have to go with the minority report. Even when the odds are against you, you must continue to believe the report of the Lord. Keep going with God.
THE OBJECT OF FAITH
When you possess a vibrant faith, you also must have the right object of your faith: God. Faith is not wishful thinking. Faith is a deep, subtle conviction about who God is and what God can do, regardless of how things may appear. We walk by faith and not by sight.
Authentic biblical faith is more than believing. It is acting on what you believe. Articulated faith without action is dead. Most folks just wait for their ship to come in, but I say, why don’t you go on and swim out to the ship?
God is not our cosmic butler or genie in a lamp. Faith must be based on who God is and what He has done. You should have an informed and intelligent faith.
You must know who God is: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent, which means God is always good.
THE OBSTACLES TO FAITH
“Faith that cannot be tested is a faith that should never be trusted.”
If God is indeed the object of your faith, you will have obstacles to overcome. Here are three obstacles that we all will face in our faith walk:
- Limiting Beliefs - a state of mind or belief about yourself that restricts you somehow. Often these beliefs are false assumptions or accusations you make about yourself. Here are ten common limiting beliefs:
- I’m not good enough.
- I’m too old or too young.
- I don’t have enough time.
- I’m not smart enough.
- I don’t have enough experience.
- I’ll never be successful.
- I don’t have enough money.
- I’ll never overcome this.
- I’m not talented enough.
- God just doesn’t like me.
- False Self-Images - those limiting beliefs can build a mental map of false images of how you see yourself and how you perceive God. The ten spies saw themselves as grasshoppers—small and insignificant.
- Fear - if you’re not careful, fear will wither you like a grape to a raisin and immobilize you so you can’t move forward and move through the window of opportunity God has given you.
THE OVERCOMING OF FAITH
The most practical way to begin to overcome in faith is to imagine again. One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself is the gift of exposure. God gave you this whole world to see and explore. Try something different. Explore the world around you.
Let’s not go to heaven and give God an apology because He gave us all this time and territory, and we haven’t seen anything. You can only imagine when you truly begin to explore.
Another way for you to gain exposure is by reading a book. It’s called expanding your intellect, widening your horizons, or having disciplined curiosity. Learning perceives leading. Stay curious. When you imagine, you also come to a place of hope.
Hope says, “There’s more.” Wake up every morning, breathing in optimism and hoping and believing things will be better. Expel doubt, pessimism, and despair.
Now it’s time you move from imagining to hoping to acting.
You’ve got to move. God allows us to set our goals. Caleb asked for the mountain, and God gave it to him.
Next week, we’ll be talking a bit more about the whole aspect of how you’re not just in need of a vision that you possess or a faith that you profess, but that you also have to have favor to proceed.
Proceed in Victory and Favor by God
In Caleb’s life, you can see he had a different spirit. He had a different spirit because one distinguishing mark contrasts him from everybody else, even Joshua: Caleb followed God wholly. The one simple take-home in this whole message would be this: to follow God wholly.
Caleb closed up the gap between him and God. He didn’t allow disobedience, distractions, or challenges to come between him and God. Even when God took Caleb’s life on a detour into the wilderness instead of sending him straight to the Promised Land, Caleb still kept following God.
Caleb refused to allow delays to keep him from following God. It had been a 45-year delay for Caleb, but he still was waiting on God. It takes a lot of courage to wait.
Don’t get ahead of God. Don’t get impatient. Sit still. Keep following Him. Don’t let anything come between you and God.
Keep trusting and walking with Him even if it takes you to the wilderness.
So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.
And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt. Genesis 21:14-21
Motherhood plays a significant role in everyone’s life. No one can deny that motherhood is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. However, let’s not forget the difficulties and challenges that modern-day mothers and parents face.
Social media has become omnipresent in a fast-paced world with rapidly advancing technology. Mothers are now facing unique challenges. Often they must balance work, household responsibilities, and caring for their children, while also trying to maintain their children’s mental, emotional, physical, and psychological well-being.
The pressure to be the perfect mom has now become even more overwhelming. Social media is filled with mothers who appear to have it all together: perfect hair, perfect children, immaculate homes, and successful careers.
As a result, many mothers feel inadequate, as if they're falling short of societal expectations. But motherhood is not a competition! We can lean on others for support and, in doing so, learn from them how to successfully negotiate the reality of life as we help and celebrate each other over the joys and beauty of motherhood.
Let’s take a moment to empathize with mothers who have to juggle multiple responsibilities and recognize the challenges they face as they deal with life's complexities and still reflect a heart of love, compassion, and support.
The reality is some complexities come with modern-day motherhood. The greatest challenge is having to do it all as a single mother. Many have to deal with the pressures of life and shoulder those responsibilities independently, having to parent often without a partner.
Did you know there is a growing number of women raising children as single mothers? Our hats go off to them. We celebrate them for demonstrating what it means to be resilient and to shoulder the responsibilities even through the tears and fatigue.
We celebrate single mothers who have tenaciously dealt with the tasks and responsibilities of motherhood, holding two to three jobs at the same time, taking kids to ball games, driving in carpools, maintaining a house, and juggling countless other things at the same time, wearing multiple hats.
We ought to give God praise for these strong single mothers. Why? Because based on the stats, over 50% of our audience today comes from households of single mothers. Single mothers make up the majority of all other single families in the United States.
Although the odds are constantly stacked against them, many have defied those odds and demonstrated what it means to be resilient, and so we pause on this day to honor them.
As we consider the Bible, we deal with various women: the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, Naomi, Hannah, the Shulamic woman, Ruth, and even the Virgin Mary.
Today, I want to highlight sister Hagar. She represents a tenacious single mother, overcoming the burdens of life.
The Plight of Single Mothers
Genesis 21:14-16 outlines Hagar’s plight. Her provisions given by Abraham were depleted. She had nothing left to keep her son and herself alive.
Hagar’s fate was not her fault. She was a victim of Abraham’s mistake of trying to be God—being impatient and taking fate into his own hands, resulting in Hagar giving birth to Ishmael.
Hagar is on her own. Hagar is hurting. There’s no one to help her or take care of her. The Bible says she wanders in the wilderness without direction or purpose. Is that not the plight of some single mothers? I know someone out here also knows what it feels like to walk in her sandals.
The water in the wineskin is used up. So Hagar places her boy under one of the shrubs. It’s bad enough to hurt, but now her supplies have also run out. Like many other single mothers, Hagar is hurting without protection and hungry without provision.
Hagar sits down, lifts her voice, and weeps. She puts the boy under a tree and goes far away so he can’t see her. Perhaps you haven’t gone under a tree, but you have gone into your bedroom and closed the door, sobbing and weeping?
Hagar understands what it feels like to be hurt, hungry, and hopeless. This is the plight of many single mothers, not all, but let’s look at the common fight of a single mother.
The Fight of Single Mothers
In Genesis 21:17-18, Hagar is hurting and hopeless, but God hears her. Even in her hunger and hopelessness, God hears her cry and calls out to her.
If you’re going to have fight in you, you’ve got to have expectations. You ought to be expecting that God is going to show up.
Genesis 21:17 shares comforting words that give Hagar the thread to hang her hope on. Jesus has a way of showing up when you’re hurting, hungry, or hopeless. He can, and He will show up.
During her pain, hunger, and hopelessness, Hagar couldn’t even get a prayer through. Still, God heard the innocent prayer of her child. Her child becomes her intercessor. God listens to the prayer of Ishmael.
“Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 21:18
In another translation, the verse begins with "Get up!" Get up! Stop having a pity party. Stop wallowing in misery and saturating in sorry. Get up!
It can be difficult, and you may want to give up in defeat, but get up. God is not done. God has another move to make. He has a destiny and a future waiting for you. God is doing something great in your life.
Every child needs to experience the power of encouragement, to come from a psychologically safe setting where destiny and promise are spoken to them. Let’s lift our kids not just with our hands but with our words. Speak to them about how much you believe in them. When you do this, you speak to them about self-worth, self-identity, and purpose.
Also, in this verse, we see that when God heard, Hagar extends her hands and lifts the child. One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is an open heart and an extended hand. Become intentional about leading and guiding your children.
Psychological safety is not just for the workplace environment. It's for the home, too. Create a culture and an environment where kids feel safe to express themselves.
God becomes Hagar’s provider. Abraham sends Hagar out with a wineskin filled with water, but God gives her a well when she is out there hurting, hungry, and hopeless. She came out defeated, but God extraordinarily provides for her. God gives her an oasis in the desert.
God promises Hagar, “I’ll be with you.” At some point, we’ve got to let go of those who walked out of our lives. This is not to minimize the pain; rejection hurts. Although Hagar was rejected by Abraham, God told her to get up. Abraham may not have wanted Hagar, but God wanted her and made it clear, “I’m still with you.”
Thank you to those modern-day Hagars holding it down.
Thank you for your resilience and tenacity.
I pray a special prayer for you because many of you are exhausted.
I pray God gives you an oasis in the wilderness.
I pray for God to refresh and restore you anew.
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does He not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope, and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What, then, is my reward? That in my preaching, I may present the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
God expects us to celebrate men or women of God or anybody who lends leadership to our lives in any shape or form. It is biblical for us to communicate our love and appreciation to them.
For some of us, the greatest celebration of our life could be in our death. But sometimes the greatest words spoken about us are spoken over us.
We need to change the narrative. If we’ve been blessed by someone through their words, deeds, or ministry, let’s not wait to say so. Let’s not wait to show our love.
God gives us the latitude to pass out honor while the glory goes up.
It’s our job to celebrate and tangibly honor those who mean something to us.
Tell Me You Love Me
Love, by definition, means to hold one in the highest regard and to have the highest form of concern with demonstration. The highest form of love is not affection. It’s sacrifice. Jesus shows that to all of us.
Paul says in the passage that it’s not about whether or not the person wants to be honored. It is our heart that should demonstrate an understanding of the fact that a person has value to us.
We might not be able to give them all that they’re worth, but we ought to try to demonstrate in some way that they mean something to us and provide them with something meaningful to us.
If there’s somebody in your life that means something to you, communicate that love.
Act Like You Love Me
In verses 15-18, Paul shares the hope that you would know this truth. No matter what you are doing, you should at least have this part of His Word in your head: God expects you to sow if you’ve been blessed.
You see, it’s not about whether or not someone needs something. It’s about, first of all, having the heart to say we want to honor someone who has given his entire life to the lives of others. It’s not about if that person needs anything. It’s about our need to demonstrate our appreciation for someone.
When someone has loved and served and given, the worst thing you can do is try to assess what they have already received. That’s the wrong spirit and the wrong attitude. Instead, you should be thinking, “What do I owe you because of what you mean to me?” It’s not about their need. It’s about your need to give a gift.
“If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.”
Paul says to have that same spirit for someone who shares and sows spiritually.
Show Me You Love Me
Do you recall Jesus and the ten lepers in Luke 17? Jesus healed all ten lepers, yet only one came back to thank Jesus for healing him. Remember Jesus asked where were the other nine? He expects that when we are blessed, we not only speak our love, but tangibly communicate that love.
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and “The laborer deserves his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18
Those who go over and above, let’s also meet them over and above. Don’t try to figure out how to do less. Have the heart to figure out how to meet them at the level they’re operating at.
The elders who direct the affairs of EBC are well worthy of double honor. If EBC has blessed you, if you’ve been blessed by the vision, leadership, and service of Dr. Craig Oliver, if there’s a sermon he preached, a word he shared that changed you, he is worthy of double honor.
Paul says in this passage that if you sow spiritual things, you should also be able to sow natural things because you receive physical results from spiritual things.
So today, and whenever you get the chance, show your love.
You may not necessarily have anything material, but you can have the heart and the right mindset, like Paul; and when your ship does come in, don’t forget whoever has been a blessing to you.