The Rector’s sermon for July 2, 2017        



Week 6 of 16 – Wisdom, Service – including slides #30—37  


Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42


 (SLIDE #30)   An apple a day keeps the doctor away… If God is your co-pilot, you’re in the wrong seat… Every time I see the word ‘exercise’, I want to wash my mouth out with chocolate.   You might call those statements “contemporary proverbs,” maybe even words of wisdom… in some cases.   And on that note, we continue our series on the Gifts of the Spirit with the gift of Wisdom. (SLIDE #31)




in New Testament Greek

A gift of insight and good judgment in

problematic relationships.

The ability to make godly choices and

to help others do the same


If we were to look for Scriptural wisdom, we would look at the ancient Book of Proverbs.  The Book of Proverbs is mostly attributed to Solomon, which makes sense since we connect Solomon with wisdom.   The book was written to teach the people of Israel how to attain wisdom and discipline in the ordering of their lives.  In other words, the book is meant to provide moral teaching.   In this morning’s letter to the Romans, Paul gives a long list of those things that his readers shouldn’t do.  Then he more or less assumes that they already understand the pitfalls of human nature and that they are exercising a certain amount of wisdom.


The Book of Proverbs is a compilation of wisdom for young and old alike, with special wisdom for leaders.   Passages from this book don’t get much play from the pulpit, but they should.   A person with the gift of wisdom has insight, makes good judgments particularly in relationships.  A person with the gift of wisdom makes godly choices and helps other to do the same.  The Book of Proverbs is a textbook for living, the key verse being, (SLIDE #32) “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (1:7)


Key Verse in Proverbs

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation

of true knowledge,

but fools despise

wisdom and discipline.” (1:7)


One particular story in the Bible is the ultimate of the gift of wisdom.  It comes from chapter 3 in first book of Kings.  King David realizes that he’s coming to the end of his life and he gives his crown to his son Solomon, and with the crown come the problems of the day.  One night the Lord appears to Solomon and says, “Ask for whatever you wish, and it will be given to you.”  Solomon answers:  “Lord, you loved my father David and you gave him a son to continue in his faithfulness.  But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.  There are so many people, so many issues.  So I ask, Lord, that you give me wisdom to govern this people.”  And the Lord says:   “You have asked rightly.  You did not ask for long life or wealth, nor did you ask for the death of your enemies, but you asked for wisdom.  Therefore, I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be anyone like you.  And I will also give you what you have not asked for, both riches and honor.”  And almost immediately Solomon’s wisdom is put to the test.   Two new mothers come before the king.  They each have a child in their arms—one is alive…and one is dead.   They proceed to tell the story of how they live in the same house, how they each had a child, but during the night one child had died.  They stand in front of the king arguing about to whom the living child belongs.   And Solomon, in his wisdom, says:  “Bring me a sword.  I will cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”  Horrified, the real mother says:  “Please, my lord, give her the child!  Don’t kill him!”  The other says, “No, cut him in two!  Neither I nor you shall have him.”   Then the king said, “Give the living child to the first woman.  She is the real mother.”  And Scripture says:  When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.    The gift of wisdom in all its glory:  the ability to make good and right judgments.  Take the time to read the Book of Proverbs. You may find the wisdom you need for an issue in your life.


The next gift we’re going to look at is the gift of Service.  (SLIDE #33).



(servanthood – sometimes called volunteerism)


The ability to identify the unmet needs

involved in God’s work,

to find resources to meet those needs, and

accomplish the desired goals.

Jesus is the ultimate of servanthood!

“For the Son of Man came not be served but to

serve and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 1:45)



The ability to identify the unmet needs involved in God’s work, to find resources to meet those needs, and accomplish the desired goals.   Diakonia is the Greek from which we get the English word “diaconate,” the ministry of a deacon, being a servant to the people of God.    Sadly, in some dioceses the diaconate is dismissed as a ministry of persons who weren’t quite good enough to be priests; but that couldn’t be farther from the truth!   The diaconate is a ministry that is a bridge between the church and the world.  The deacon works in the secular world while serving in some capacity in the church…it’s a life of “one foot in the world, and one foot in the church.”   A deacon’s secular vocation is often some involvement in the community; they bring the presence of Christ into their day to day job in the world.   And before a person can be ordained a priest, he or she must be ordained a deacon for six months to a year, depending on the diocese.  Why?  To remind the priest that he or she is first a servant.


Now, not everyone has the vocation to become a deacon.  So what is the gift of service for everyone else?  The gift of service is that ability to identify what is needed to do the work of God and to make the time to do it.  It’s called volunteering your time, your talents in those areas in the church that might need your help. 


Those with the gift of servanthood perform ordinary deeds with extraordinary humility. (SLIDE #34)  


“Lord, make me a servant…”

Those with the gift of servanthood

perform ordinary deeds with

extraordinary humility.


That is a sentence worth committing to memory: Those with the gift of servanthood perform ordinary deeds with extraordinary humility.  Servanthood is the opposite of what the world considers greatness.  A community of faith such as St. Francis that is filled with the gift of servanthood is truly blessed beyond comprehension because a community of faith cannot exist without the gift of servanthood.  Before Jesus gave us the sacrament of His Body and Blood, he wrapped a towel around his waste, poured water in a basin, and performed the task of the lowest of servants:  he washed his disciples’ feet.  And he told them to do the same.  Servanthood is volunteerism without recognition.  To a servant, a “thank you” becomes an added blessing, not an expectation.   A servant recognizes unmet needs relating to God’s work and takes great joy in meeting those needs.   And in today’s Gospel, like the gift of hospitality, Jesus reminds us to give to the least of his children with no expectations, because no good deed is lost in the eyes of God.


Another gift that is similar to service is the gift of Helps.  (SLIDE #35)




Greek for “a timely act of rescue”

A special ability that God gives to some to invest the talents they have

which in turn helps another increase the effectiveness of the other person’s ministry


The literal translation for this gift is “a timely act of rescue.”   The gift of helps is that special ability that God gives to some to invest the talents they have which in turn helps another increase the effectiveness of the other person’s ministry.    In other words, for us older folks:  think of it as the woman behind the man.  And in less sexist terms, the person behind the one who gets all the credit; the excellent secretary who makes the CEO look like he never forgets anything; those persons who are behind the main coordinator of an event; those individuals who rarely get credit for what they do, but they make someone else look really good.   


Now you might be thinking what’s the difference between the Gift of Helps and the Gift of Service?  The answer to that question is in the Greek translation:  a timely act of rescue. (SLIDE #36).   Service is primary; helps is secondary…an assistance to service.  



Service = primary

Helps = assistance


There are several persons in our congregation who work behind the scenes at an event to make everything happen just the way it should.  And Barbara Million comes to mind…there’s always enough ice tea in the refrigerator, or enough placemats and matching napkins in the closet for the next event.  And on Sunday mornings in season, she and Buddy clean up the kitchen from coffee hour and quietly leave while the second service is going on.  That’s the gift of Helps.


A Scriptural example comes from the story of Moses.  Even though Joshua eventually took over for Moses, for a long time Joshua was under the radar, behind the scenes, helping Moses keeping things on track.  The gift of helps belongs to all those persons in the background that get no credit while making the leadership look so good!   The gift of helps:  that gift belonging to those who receive their fulfillment without praise simply because they’ve done a good thing!


So to date we’ve covered thirteen gifts.  (SLIDE #37).


Gifts of the Spirit


                     Administration                     Healing                                    Missionary

            Apostleship                            Helps                             Pastor

              Celibacy                       Hospitality                Poverty (voluntary)

             Craftsman                                   Intercessor                       Prophecy

                   Interpreting tongues                     Public speaking                    Discernment

                         Deliverance                              Interpreting dreams                            Service

             Encourager                    Knowledge                Speaking in tongues

                           Evangelist                                  Leadership                         Teaching

                  Faith                          Martyrdom                         Wisdom

              Generosity                                      Mercy                                       Worship




There they are, along side what is still to come.    I hope that you are reading the handouts and praying about those gifts that God may want to give you.   All the gifts—though quite different—are from the same Spirit, and are meant to build up the body of Christ.  No one gift is better than another and each gift, if used properly, will bring glory to God and joy to his people.   May the Lord continue his guidance as you search for the Holy Spirit’s gifts in your life.



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