Strengthened By Yielding

God’s rules aren’t many, but He does expect you to measure up to the things He says.

Scripture: Romans 15:2-3, Matthew 20, Romans 14, 2 Timothy 2, 2 Corinthians 12:9


Alright, thank you very much and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right? Well, certainly I wait for you to answer. Why not? You and I have been looking at Romans 15. “We then,” says Paul, “that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his neighbor’s good unto edification,” or building up. “For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, the reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.”

This is a parallel reference to what we have for example in Matthew chapter 20 and also in the book of Mark but in Matthew chapter 20, our Lord Jesus said, “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Simon Peter says our Lord Jesus has left us an example that we should follow his steps. This, dear friend, is one of those steps, to look for ways to serve others. Paul says in Galatians, “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not your liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Our word “serve” is “douleuete,” “serve like a slave.” Our Lord Jesus said, if you want to be great, be a minister, that’s the Greek verb “diakoneo,” “work like a deacon;” relieving need at the point of need.

“And whosoever will be chief,” if you want to be the top person, the top of the totem pole, so to speak; “Whosoever will be chief, let him be your servant,” that’s the word “doúlos,” “slave.” So the way up is always the way down in God’s economy. The way up is down. The way to greatness is to serve. The way to security is to be needed. And the only way you’ll be needed is if you’re able to meet somebody else’s need. And then the example was given “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto.”

The whole thrust of Romans 14 is summed up in 15:1. Romans 14 said, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye but don’t argue with him.” Receive him and love him but don’t argue with him. He’s God’s servant. He has to face God at the judgment seat of Christ just as you and I do and after all the real thrust of Christian living is not judging a person or putting him down but building him up. “Let us pursue,” says he, “the things which make for a peace and things where with one may edify another.”

And after all the real index of right and wrong is whether or not you are clear before God as you say or do a thing. The index is faith. “Whatsoever is not of faith,” said he “is sin.” Now, the whole thrust of all of that discussion in Romans 14 is summed up then in 15:1, “We then that are strong ought to bear,” carry, in other words, “carry the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” This of course goes counter to human nature as you know and it takes the power and the presence of the blessed Spirit of God to achieve it.

What does it mean to be strong? “We then that are strong;” what does it really mean to be strong? Well, I think, for example of 2 Timothy 2 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” The beginning place of spiritual strength is at the foot of the cross. Have you learned that? Spiritual strength is not found either in knowledge or effort; it’s found at the foot of the cross where you bow and receive God’s grace. Paul the apostle said, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Be strong in the grace of God.

Now, there’s a parallel passage that one thinks of immediately and that’s 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength,” God says, “is made perfect in your weakness.” And Paul goes on to say, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For when I am weak, then am I strong.” Strong in what? Strong in your weakness? Yes. Why? Because God’s grace makes you strong at the point of your human weakness. Thank God that’s so.

I guess I told you, oh, maybe a year or two ago the story which I just now mentioned. My own father was a very shy little boy, so shy that he would literally run away if company were coming to the farmhouse in Ohio where he lived. His stepmother being a Prussian of the old school decided she’d break him of this shyness. And so one day she tied him up wrapped in nothing but a bed sheet, tied him up to the tree- the pine tree in the front yard of that farm home and made him stand there throughout the day.

People going by would laugh and snicker and point at this miserable little boy, clad in a bed sheet, tied to a tree. Well, that didn’t break him of his shyness; it simply made him determined to run away from home as soon as he could and he did. Never finished high school. I think he went, perhaps, as far as the eighth grade in the little red brick school house that was maybe a quarter of a mile down the road from that farmhouse. And then he went on out into the oil fields and worked doing a man’s work day by day.

And finally, when he was old enough, he enlisted in the army and fought in the Spanish-American War, came back after the war, met my beautiful angel mother, Daisy Grey, and fell in love with her and they were married on Thanksgiving Day, set up their home. Well, it wasn’t long before the news came that Dr. R. A. Torrey was coming to that area to hold some evangelistic meetings and that they needed some trained, what they then called, “personal workers” to pray with people who might commit themselves to Christ.

And so my father and mother enrolled in these classes that were held to train folk in knowing how to share Christ with those who were eager to commit themselves to Him. I asked him about this one day and he told me this story. I said, “Pop, you are so shy even now as a grown man, you are so shy that sometimes you just shrink away from meeting people and yet when you start to talk about the Lord Jesus, you’re as bold as anything and you’re charming and you seem to have no fear at all.”

He smiled. He said, “Well, my boy,” and then he told me this story. And he said “The Lord gave me the joy of leading some folks to Christ and I found that I wasn’t shy when I was talking about my Savior.” God can make you strong at the point where you’re weak. “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

I have no way of knowing to whom I’m speaking this very minute; thousands of people across the miles and on many stations listening and altogether different one from the other. No one person’s circumstances are the same as another’s. And how could Bob Cook know exactly what your condition might be? I can tell you however with complete confidence, beloved, that whatever the point is in your life where you’re weak, that is exactly the place where God’s grace can make you strong. Aren’t you glad that’s so? Strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Well, if you go on in 2 Timothy 2, you’ll find that he speaks about strength in terms of commitment not only to God but to others. “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

Strong in the ability to share your faith with others, strength to share your faith with others – 2 Timothy 2:2, then strong in the ability to take it, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ;” strong in the ability to take it, not just cave in and quit; and then strong in the oneness of your loyalty, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier;” strong in your oneness of loyalty to your Savior, your captain, your general, the author and finisher of your faith, the parade leader, the one who leads us in triumph, Jesus our blessed Lord from heaven – loyalty to Him makes you strong, strong in the fact that you keep the rules, “If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” Strong in keeping the rules that God has laid down.

God’s rules aren’t many. He said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” but He does expect you to measure up to the things He says. If you want to be strong, keep the rules. Strong in working in the harvest, “The husband that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits;” strong in working in the harvest of souls around you. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.” How do we measure up on that? Well, I don’t know. I know that I have a great deal of mileage to cover yet before I can say I’ve measured up. How about you?

But there is the index for us. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” The tendency always is to think what do I get out of this? How will this affect me? What will this cost me? What will the results be so far as my purposes and goals are concerned? He says “Not to please ourselves but let everyone of us please his neighbor for his neighbor’s good to building up his neighbor,” and the example is the Lord Jesus Christ, “Even Christ pleased not himself.” “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

A preacher friend of mine was speaking on this text, the Matthew 20:28 text, “not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” and he put it in very homely terms. He said, “When I get up, I would hope that somebody has put the coffee pot on. And sometimes if I get up and the coffee pot isn’t on and there’s no coffee made, I find myself grumbling “Ah, no coffee.” And then it occurs to me “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” If I would live that verse out in so simple a matter as putting the coffee pot on, I would put it on myself and not grumble about somebody else not taking care of me.”

Well, now, that’s a pretty honest admission, isn’t it? Because all of us have grumbled at some time or other because somebody didn’t do what we hoped they would do. “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” To minister in the New Testament sense means see a need and meet it. That’s what the deacons did. See a need and meet it. Let’s do some ministering today, shall we?

Dear Father, today help us to specialize in helping other people, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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