PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY | DAVID STUART
A few weeks ago Andy mentioned this blog in his sermon by one of our students David Stuart and it was first posted on davidstuart100.wordpress.com:
Recently, I have been through a stressful couple of weeks at Uni with assignment deadlines and exams. Some of my closest friends were also going through a rough time, which took its toll on me as well. It was very clear that I was sinking and not afraid to admit this. I went to therapy to try and cope with the stress I was under, which was something I found really helpful and wouldn’t be ashamed to go again if need be. Throughout this time people tried to help me in two ways; through practical help or by offering prayer.
As Christians when we see our friends struggling, we want to help, this can be in two ways, being practical and offering prayer.
The parable of talents in Matthew 6 is one of my favourite stories. Jesus tells a parable about three servants; each who are trusted, by their master, with bags of gold based on their ability. The servant who had received five bags of gold put his money to work and gained five bags more. The one who got two bags of gold gained two more, while the servant who got one bag dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
After a long time, the master decided to return and settle his accounts with his servants. He applauded and rewarded the two servants who made a return on their bags of gold but punished the servant who hid his one bag and made no profit on it. Due to his neglect, the bag of gold which he possessed was taken from him and given to the one who had ten bags.
God knows us from the inside out. He knows our every thought, all of the decisions we make and most importantly he knows every single talent and gift he has trusted with us. He sees our abilities and trusts us gifts accordingly. It was no fluke that it is the servant entrusted with the one talent that lets him down. It was the risk the generous and gracious master was willing to take, that is what is important! However, in today’s culture, we as Christians tend not to offer up our gifts to others to try and help them. Instead, when they are in need, we quite often only ever lean on God in prayer to sort out our problems for our friends, even though he has given us an abundance of talents to help the ones around us. One of the most helpful acts someone did for me during this time was come around to my house when I was feeling quite low and cook for me in my own kitchen, it really cheered me up and made me realise that everything was going to be okay.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-9
I have nothing against prayer at all, it is one of the most powerful tools we have as Christians. But all too often I have heard so many responses from Christians who say, “Oh well we will be praying” and not “How can I help”, “What talents and abilities has God given me for me to support you and help you get out of this situation practically”. I myself have said the first response many times and it so easy to constantly slip into that response and not do anything else to help a person. As Romans teaches us, if it is to serve, then invest in your community and have an impact on the vulnerable and the unloved. If it is to teach, then give out wisdom and advice to the right people at the right time. If it is to encourage, then build people up take them out for dinner or give them a gift when they are feeling at their lowest. If it is to give, then when you see someone who is desperate and having financial worries give to them what is necessary. If it is to lead, then always do this with compassion and modesty. And if it is to show mercy, then do this with a tenderness and gentleness like no other.