If We All Do Our Part

John F. Kennedy won his presidential bid by the smallest popular vote margin in history. He knew that people were torn regarding whether such a young man could make a great president. In his landmark inaugural address, he wanted to instill confidence in the nation regarding the Cold War and what peace they could expect during his presidency. His famous line, near the end of his speech, and lived in infamy ever since. “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

For the purposes of our thoughts today, let’s change this statement to learn some other things. Ask not what your God can do for you—ask what you can do for your God. We get so used to the concept of asking God for things that we often treat Him like a genie. We make wishes. Our prayers are focused on what’s coming to us from God instead of what coming from us to God. How much time have we spent in praise? Or gratitude? Or telling Him what an incredible work He has done in your life? Or praying for His will on earth? God is not there to serve our whims and wants, although He generously gives us many of them. Rather, God is there as the Ruler of Heaven and Earth. God is there fighting off the powers of hell and the dangers Satan presents to us. So maybe our thoughts should shift to what we can do for God. “Worship [serve] the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs” (Psalm 100.2). God needs workers. God needs teachers to share the good news with the lost. God needs family members who will care of the others in His family. God needs you! Not because there is anything we can do that He cannot, but because He desires our work for His glory.

Ask not what your Church can do for you—ask what you can do for your Church. This congregation is only as good as its members. We will reach as many people with the Gospel as we work to teach. We will worship only as deeply as we each worship. Too often, we focus on what we get “out of church.” Were we encouraged? Were we uplifted? Were we strengthened? Did we learn? The truth is that we only receive as much as we give. If we want to be encouraged, we must encourage others. If we want to learn, we must put the work into learning and sharing with others. Some of the time, we think that just by “being a part,” we have somehow been a blessing to others. When we “show up,” we consider that a good deed. While being present is certainly necessary, it what you do when you show up that truly matters. The writer of Hebrews was not concerned primarily with his reader’s attendance as he was their actions when attending. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10.24-25). We should change our focus when we assemble from what I’m “getting from church” to what am I giving of myself to God’s people.

Ask not what your brother/sister can do for you—ask what you can do for your brother/sister. In a similar manner, we often what to be served by our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can get offended when they have not greeted up properly, smiled at us, or think they have shunned us by not shaking our hands. The reality is that in such a large congregation, none of us speak to everyone we want to speak to every time we gather together. To be honest, this is why telephones and other modern technologies are so important. We can serve one another and focus on one another outside of the walls of this church building. My job should be to focus less on what others are doing for me and what I can do for them. “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. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other (Galatians 5.13-15).

No matter what area we are talking about, we are called to serve, not to be served. Kennedy’s call to service for Americans relates in almost every area of life. We should be those who are looking out for the good of others. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2.3-4). This quality of service is essential because it mirrors one of the boldest and most noticeable qualities of our Lord. He served others, even to His death. We must serve others in the same way. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6.9). Let’s look for the good of others always, and then we will find that our good is also being served reciprocally. God’s plan works, if we all do our part.