A sermon preached at Kowloon Union
Church on the Stewardship Sunday, 19 October 2014, by Paul Cheung.
1 Peter 4:9-11 (NIV)
Offer hospitality to one another
without grumbling. 10
Each of you should use whatever gift you
have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its
various forms. 11
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one
who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the
strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus
Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Good morning. The theme
of the sermon today is stewardship, which is about using our gifts, serving
others, fulfilling our mission, and so on. It is a very broad subject. This
morning I would like to focus on our church – stewardship at KUC.
Serving at KUC, I need to
do one thing regularly, that is to ask people to serve. It is not a difficult
task if the people are willing to do so. In fact, it is a nice experience when
I get a positive response. So I try to guess whether someone would like to do
that before I make the request. Sometimes I am not sure if the people I
approach would like to serve in that capacity at that moment. I would not be
surprised when people say they do not want to help in certain work or ministry
because they must have their reason. Right. If there is a reason not to serve,
there must be a reason to serve. The theme of the sermon today is a reason to
at church for enjoyment
“Why do we serve?” This
is a question for you and me. If I cannot answer this question, it is hard to
keep the momentum of serving at church. My immediate answer to this question is
a “happy” answer – Serving at church makes us happy. Is that true?
happiness, I tend to search for an answer in psychology. Psychological research
has shown the positive relationship between work and enjoyment. There have been
extensive studies on quality of life and activities. When are the people in the
state of the happiest moment? Research results show that people are the
happiest when they are deeply involved in an activity. We feel most satisfied
when we do what we are passionate about such as writing, drawing, singing,
dancing, speaking, playing with children, cooking, gardening, etc..
Participating in the activity we like to do, we are creating enjoyable moments
for ourselves. In brief, serving with our gifts is a happy and fulfilling
We serve to be happy. Is
that the answer? I’m afraid not. In my experience, I have felt the joy and
fulfillment through my service at church. However, I also have felt sadness and
loneliness. I believe that is a common experience. So if we serve for the sake
of happiness, we may be disappointed and the motivation will not last.
at church for growth
If happiness is not the
reason for serving at church, then what makes us serve? I try to get the answer
from the perspective of personal growth. When we serve in various ministries, we
can learn a lot. We will acquire new knowledge and improve our skills as well.
Since we are serving the people with the people, we will become more mature
through the interaction with our brothers and sisters. We will be a more
considerate, thoughtful and understanding person and our emotional intelligence
will be enhanced.
Serving at church helps
us grow in many ways. We serve to grow. It is a nice answer to the question,
isn’t it? I’m afraid not. Theoretically speaking, everyone will grow by
participating in the ministries. The condition is that they are willing to
learn and reflect on their experiences. Otherwise, the growth is not
guaranteed. Some may repeat the same mistake again and again. Some may not
develop their empathy or compassion through their service. On the other hand,
for the people who have grown to be more knowledgeable, skillful and more
mature and wiser, the motivation for growth is much reduced. So serving in
order to grow should not be the answer. Then why do we serve?
at church as an obligation
Now I try to answer the question by referring to the obligation of
Christians. Here are some familiar sayings. It is our duty to serve. We must
serve because we are Christians. Serving at church is the right thing to do.
These statements seem to be unquestionable. Such idea is expressed clearly in
the Bible. In Galatians 5:13
the Bible says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do
not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve
one another humbly in
love.” Also in 1 Peter 4:10, the Bible says, “Each of you should use whatever gift
you have received to serve
others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace
in its various forms.” Like it or not the Bible
tells us the very truth. So, we serve to fulfill our duty. Sounds good? I’m
afraid it doesn’t sound good enough to me.
It is true that it is our obligation to serve. But we may feel we have
served for a long period of time, and may think that we have already fulfilled our
obligation. Some may think that God has different plans for different people,
and perhaps God wants others, not me to do this job. Some may think that they
prefer to serve later when they have more time and have a better mood. If these
thoughts appear on your mind, it is nothing to be ashamed of. We need to be
honest to ourselves. The fact is that when we do something because it is our
duty, our motivation could be low. People may serve without passion. If it
happens to a church that the people are serving just because they need to
fulfill their duty, it is hard to imagine that the church is lively and
energetic. For me, to serve because we have to serve is not a satisfactory
answer, at least not satisfactory enough. So what could be the motivation to
serve besides the sense of obligation to fulfill the noble duty of a Christian?
at church as serving our family
When I was preparing this
sermon about stewardship, an image of a person appeared on my mind – my mother.
She is a mother of five. It was tough to raise five children including someone
who was disobedient. To my recollection, she was always busy. She worked
outside and took care of the children. She was trying very hard to improve the
living condition bit by bit. I am pretty sure she did not do this for the sake
of enjoyment nor did she do it for personal growth. You could say it was her
obligation. But obligation cannot completely explain her behavior. She never
asked for a fair allocation of duties. She just did the work herself. Something
more than obligation did motivate her to do so many things. When I grew older,
I realized that the momentum for her to do this came from me, my brothers, my
sisters, and my father. She did all this for her family. It was as simple as
Serving at church, we can
experience the joy and fulfillment, we can grow in many ways, and we can
fulfill our duty as a Christian. Serving in a family with brothers and sisters,
we serve out of love, we serve out of care, and we try to make the family happy
and healthy. In a family with our Lord being the head, we like to see everybody
grow, and we continue to serve with passion. Why do we serve at KUC? The answer
can be as simple as that – This is our church, this is our family.
We thank You for leading us to KUC. We are grateful for our willingness
to serve in this family of God where we enjoy the spiritual connection with You
our Lord and the Christian fellowship with each other. Please grant us a humble heart
for the gifts You gave each one of us. May You guide us to realize and use what
we have received to bring glory to You. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.