This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is about Taking Your Stand based on Ephesians 6:12-18.
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Standing Alongside the Broken
Before we begin today’s message, lets take a moment for our memory verses. Let’s say this together:
Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
As we continue on in our series called Take Your Stand we are going to be talking about Standing Alongside the Broken. Our primary verse for today is:
Ephesians 6:14 (NIV)
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
The main focus of that verse is truth and righteousness and that is what we will be looking at as we talk about standing alongside the broken. I believe those two terms can be reflected in (here comes point number 1 on your bulletin)
Integrity to me is about your inside matching your outside. It is living what you believe. It is not wearing masks. It is being truthful about your faults and flaws. It is about not pretending to be something you aren’t. It is about an honest appraisal of your true self. It is where truth and righteousness intersect in our own lives. In order to be effective as Ministers of Encouragement it will have to be a character trait that is evident in our lives. We have talked about Barnabas, the son of encouragement in past messages, and he was a man of great integrity that was evidenced throughout his life and ministry. It was his integrity that allowed him to stand with Saul before the church and vouch for him.
Do you remember the situation?
When the apostle Paul was first converted, the early church was afraid of him because he had previously been in charge of persecuting them. Barnabas however, sees Paul’s potential, he sees past Paul’s problems to what God wants to do with him.
Acts 9:27-28 (NIV)
27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Barnabas’ came along side and stood with Paul before the early church and they received Paul because of him. Come along side and standing with someone is a significant part of the ministry of encouragement.
It is integrity that will help us all to come to grips with point number 2…
2) Our tendency towards being Pharisees (self righteousness)
Mark 2:16-17 (NIV)
16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ’sinners’?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
A lack of integrity will cause us to become self-righteous and judgmental and not care about people, which was the hallmark of the Pharisees.
a) We are all broken
Until we come to grips with our own brokenness, we will not be able to stand alongside the broken. Integrity allows us to admit our own mess. We are born broken. From our earliest stages in life our main concerns are pleasure and avoiding pain. We live in a fallen world and sin abounds and all of us have sinned in the pursuit of pleasure and pain free living.
b) The sin scale
The sin scale is the invention of the self-righteous. On this scale we have arbitrarily determined that some sins are very bad and some sins are not so bad. Usually, our own sins are not so bad while other people’s sins make us shake our head and go tsk, tsk, tsk. For example, the self-righteous sin scale tends to see gossip as a tiny little sin and yet it is one of the sins dealt with most often in scripture. Gossip is extremely destructive and ruins lives, families, and churches. However, most people engage in gossip regularly because they don’t think it is a big problem. These same people then self-righteously judge people who they perceive are worse on the sin scale. Sin is sin.
c) Self-righteousness always has a hint of hate
There is a statement that has been going around for quite a while in Christendom that probably many of us have said without giving it much thought because it sounds right. Here it is. Hate the sin, love the sinner. The problem with this is that when you think about it, it has self-righteous undertones. Think about it this way. If you are relating to someone based on that statement, do you think they are feeling loved? They are feeling judged and you are most likely treating them as some sort of less than person. It has a hint of hate that is saying, “I am better than you because I don’t engage in the sin you are involved in, and my own sin is just not that bad”. When we are operating under the hate the sin love the sinner banner we have most likely labeled the person by their sin and it is coloring how we relate to them.
So what do we do? How are we supposed to relate to the broken? We relate to them from our own brokenness. Which is where we connect with point 3…
3) True Righteousness
Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
a) Sees the beauty of people’s potential
When Jesus looked at sinners, he saw past their sin and saw the beauty of their potential. He never condoned sin, but He didn’t let sin be the focus. He didn’t label people by their sin.
b) It is grace-filled
Jesus was able to do this because He exemplified the grace-filled life. Jesus loved people and people knew it. Being around Jesus made people want to change, to deal with their own brokenness and to live lives that would please Him. They responded to His amazing love which is what true righteousness looks like because true righteousness
c) Is displayed in love
It doesn’t take sin lightly, but understands that people are only really healed from their brokenness in the context of a loving relationship with God (i.e. the underlying motivation that moves us away from hedonism is a desire to live a life that pleases God in response to His love for us)
To stand alongside the broken we will have to be people of integrity who are always challenging our own Phariseeism and trying to love and see people the way that God does.