Each of us has a ministry. It might not be at the podium like mine specifically. In reality, our pulpits are our lives. St. Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” People watch you more than listen to you. They watch how you respond to adversities, your consistencies, and how you treat people. Our actions speak much louder than our words.
Matthew 5:13-15 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? …You are the light of the world...
What does Jesus mean? We should constantly bring light and flavoring to life. Jesus said because people are watching us then let’s give them something worth seeing. Let’s glow with joy. Let’s glow with optimism. Let’s show our teeth behind a big smile. Your being around people should make them smile, feel joy, feel optimism, and enjoy life. The way you live should light the way they live and the life you live should appear tasty to them. Others should hunger for your joy, optimism, and excitement about life. You should have so much joy, so much peace, be so kind, and be so good-natured that you draw people to God. That’s what Jesus is talking about.
One of the best ways to let your light shine and be tasty is be happy, be friendly, and be good to people. Do you believe Christ followers should live life with a more positive attitude than those who are not followers?
Maybe where you work, people complain and talk about all the negative things. Instead of joining in, you have a smile on your face. You are grateful you have a job. Do you realize that simply with your joy and smile, you ministered to those people. You spoke into their lives. You didn’t say a word. You didn’t condemn them. Your actions did the talking. You let your light shine. You caused people to think, “That’s really how I should act.” You showed light and made it tasty for them.
We need to realize how every one of us has a ministry. You may not be a preacher, but you do know how to smile. A smile is a great sermon. A laugh speaks volumes. I have that one down pretty well. You can be kind to someone. You can encourage someone. You can be stable and solid in the middle of adversity. Those things are “messages” and sermons to people. “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” Those are the things people read.
2 Corinthians 3:3 Forasmuch as YE ARE MANIFESTLY DECLARED TO BE THE EPISTLE OF CHRIST ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
The Bible says we are living epistles, meaning letters. Much of the Bible is made of letters/epistles written to people and to churches. That means people are not reading the Bible, but they are reading your life. They may never pick up a Bible, but some people read your life ever day. They are watching the way you live. Our going out every day with a smile on our faces, being kind, courteous, respectful, and friendly would probably have a greater impact on people than all the sermons they would ever hear.
2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore CHRIST'S AMBASSADORS, AS THOUGH GOD WERE MAKING HIS APPEAL THROUGH US…
Let’s be real. People don’t see God. They see us. Ask yourself, “Do I represent Christ the way I should? Am I kind and friendly? Do I draw people in, or push people away from Christ?” You have been around people who were a joy to be with. You smiled when you saw them coming. That’s how we should be. Then, there are other people who you can’t wait until they leave. They are always sad. They always have a problem. Nothing ever goes right. They are always depressed and have a sad story. They drain your energy. They pull you down. I ask, do you want what they have?
People know other people go to church every week. They say, “They are just as down and depressed as I am.” They say, “When they go through adversities, they are just as defeated as I am. Why would I want that?” People should see nothing but joy and stability that draws them in like a magnet. After all God has done for us, the least we can do is smile. It’s a poor representation of our God if we go around negative and defeated and talking down about everything.
We all have challenges. Every one of us can find a reason to be unhappy. The truth is, WE DON’T HAVE A RIGHT TO BE UNHAPPY. We are ambassadors of Christ representing Jesus and God’s love. Think about it. If you sent someone out to represent you and they went out sloppy, sad, depressed, and defeated, would you like that? I would say, “You go do something else. I don’t want to be represented like that.”
We all have days we don’t want to be friendly. We would rather say, “Leave me alone.” We don’t feel like smiling. That’s when we need to remind ourselves, “I’m preaching a sermon today with my life. What message am I sending?”
I’ve told you how years ago, I was having problems with a bill of my dad’s. It was paid, but there was confusion and I continued receiving bills and phone calls. I got a call from a guy who was rude and I became aggravated. He challenged me and I took off to find him. I ended up in a line at the place he was supposed to be and I became more aggravated. Finally, I was next in line behind a little old lady who kept asking the same questions over and over and I was boiling inside. Finally, the little woman stuffed her papers in a folder and turned to leave, but when she did, all the papers fell out on the floor at my feet. I wanted to say, “That’s what you get you o bag,” but I didn’t. I helped her pick them up and stood to release all my aggravation on the woman behind the counter. My mouth was opening to say mean things, when the woman said, “Hello Pastor Young. How can I help you today?” Of course, I grabbed the negative words just before they came out and, instead asked, “Do I know you?” She said, “No sir, but I have seen you on television.” That woman reminded me I was Christ’s ambassador. You never know who is watching you. You say, “Delbert, you’re a pastor. You are on the radio. You are on television. I don’t need to worry about that.” Don’t kid yourself. Your children are watching you. Your neighbors are watching you. Your co-workers are watching you. You preach a sermon to people every day. They may never read the Bible, but they read you every day.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? I went to a place to get some pine straw for my yard. They sent me out to be loaded. I backed up to the bales of straw and waited, and waited. I don’t like to wait. Finally, a person came out walking very slowly. I’m an impatient person, but I was behaving. He got close and I spoke, “Hey, how you doing?” He didn’t say a word. He looked down at the gravel and began throwing bales of pine straw on my truck. I thought, “That’s interesting.” I could tell he would rather be doing anything but loading my truck. Finally, he looked at me and I could tell he recognized me. At that moment I didn’t know if that would make it better or worse. He asked me about someone who goes to church here. I responded with a positive response. Then he said, “I hear you on the radio every morning.” I wanted to say, “I know you hear me, but do you ever listen?” I was my friendly talkative self, trying to find something to cheer the guy up. When he finished, I said, “Come visit us at church sometimes.” He said, “I can’t do that. I am a greeter at my church.” I honestly nearly laughed out loud. I had to push the laugh back down. That man was preaching a sermon and it was not a good one. Sometimes, it does more damage than good when people act like that and then say they go to church. I drove away thinking, “I would not go to that church if that’s the way that guy greets.” We all need to pay attention to the message we send out.
I love what one of our members wrote on the Life Gate website Blog. “I use my job to impact a lot of people, not preaching at them but being an example. I had a client ask me just last week “Angela, do you ever have a bad day?” (I thought to myself are you kidding me?) I said I try very hard to not stay that way for very long. I laughed after he left and thought how funny it is to see how people perceive you.”
Some of you are learning you have a ministry. You reach people I will never have the opportunity to reach. The best sermon you can preach is being happy, treat people right and allow the love of God to shine through your face. Isn’t it funny that when you smile a lot and laugh a lot that people get suspicious about you. “Why’s he so happy?” Sometimes people may think, “That guy may be on drugs. He’s high.” I’m guilty! I am on the Most High. I stay excited about life and church and God and people. If I am going to represent God and Christ, I am going to do it with a smile and enthusiasm.
When someone does something nice for you, make sure you say, “Thank you. I appreciate that.” They need a big “thank you” because they are going through something. We all are, and no matter how large or small their issue may be, a smile and a thank you is light and salt to them. One kind word, one sincere thank you might be all they get positive all day. You be the one positive thing they remember.
When you go out into your day, be aware of the people around you. You are not only going to your place of work. You are going to “your church” where you preach. You are not only going to the ball field, or grocery store, or Wal-Mart. God is directing your steps. He is constantly bringing people across your path who need your light and your salt. Make sure that when people see you, they see a living epistle. Make sure they see hope. Make sure they see love. Make sure they see victory. Make sure they see Christ.
Some of you work at a negative place, but you don’t need to allow that to pull you down. You can be a thermometer or a thermostat. The climate of the room controls the thermometer. If you are a thermometer when the room is negative and sour, you become negative and sour. You adjust to the room’s climate. A thermostat adjusts the climate in the room. It’s connected to a power source. Even if the room is negative and sour, you have the power to change the climate, but you need to turn the bulb on. You need to shake the salt shaker.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives IN YOU?
Another way to say that is you are a container filled with God. Every place you go, you should be pouring out God on somebody – hope, joy, peace, encouragement – light and salt. Every day we should say, “I am going to make people happy today. I am going to pour God out on people today.”
I was in the grocery store one day getting something for Judy. This lady began waving at me from the end of the isle. I didn’t recognize her, but figured she knew me, so, being the friendly guy I am, I waved back. She came a little closer and waved again. I thought, “Well, we’ve already done this, but…” I waved back again. Then she got closer and waved like I was a long lost friend. I was tickled now, so I joined in and waved back with this big grin on my face.” She walked up to me and said, “Do I know you?” I said, “I don’t know. I waved at you because you were waving at me.” She said, “I wasn’t waving at you. I was waving at my husband behind you.” That was embarrassing. I laughed and she laughed, but I would rather error on that side than on the dried up sour side. I would rather her remember me with a smile than know who I am one day and say, “That’s that sour man I saw in the grocery store.” If my light is going to shine, I need to turn the bulb on, right?
A beauty of this is if we will shine and flavor the lives of others, the Lord will make certain that when we need some light and flavor, it’s there for us. We already have it waiting. We gave it. He promised when we need it, it will be there for us.
Mark 16:15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and PREACH THE GOOD NEWS to all creation.
No matter whom you are or where you live in this world, you have your own pulpit from which you preach. You are supposed to share the GOOD NEWS. There is not a lot good about a frown and a sad face. You are constantly, being watched. “Preach the Good News at all times. Use words if necessary.” You are light and salt. People constantly read your epistle. You are an ambassador who represents Christ. You are a container full of God poured out on everyone with whom you come in contact. You have your very own pulpit. How is your church doing?