Credit And Respect, Where Credit And Respect Is Due


All across the world, people are celebrating a very special day today, which we call ‘Mother’s Day’. Kids all over the world are giving their mum cards and gifts in an attempt to show their gratitude for being the best mum in the world. Now I think this is a very important day for many reasons but today I want to talk to all of you women, to let you know just how appreciated you are.

Three mothers were bragging about their sons. “My son is a wealthy lawyer,” said one. “For my birthday he gave me this fur coat.” Said the second: “My son is a medical doctor. Last winter he gave me a vacation in Miami Beach.” The third thought for a moment, then blurted, “My son sees a fancy psychiatrist each week. He pays the psychiatrist a hundred fifty pounds an hour. And guess who he spends his time talking about? Me!”

I think that women are the most underestimated Christians in most congregations. And we men need to honour them for what they actually do within our church family. Our Scripture reading this morning was taken from the Book of Proverbs and I just want to repeat the last verse.

“Give her credit for all she does. She deserves the respect of everyone.” Proverbs 31:31

And that’s what I want to do this morning, I want us men to be more aware of what the ladies are doing for the Lord and I also want to encourage the ladies to keep doing what you are doing, because God appreciates it. And we want to give the ladies credit this morning for all you do for the Lord and give you all the respect that you all so really deserve.

You see these ladies within our number work tirelessly for the Lord and most times they do it quietly in the background. And I want to encourage you, ladies, to keep going because you are making a difference, you guys are a huge help for us men whether we want to admit that or not. And we men should be taking the time to thank God for each and every one of you for helping us. But most of all I want everyone not only here but all over the world to know how supportive you guys are.

I know a woman just like that and we read about her in Romans 16:1-2, “I recommend to you our sister Phoebe, who serves the church at Cenchreae. Receive her in the Lord’s name, as God’s people should, and give her any help she may need from you; for she, herself has been a good friend to many people and also to me.”

Paul wanted others to know that his sister in Christ Phoebe was a great help to him and many others.

I know of another woman just like that which we can read about in Romans 16:3-4, “I send greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in the service of Christ Jesus; they risked their lives for me. I am grateful to them—not only I but all the Gentile churches as well.”

The apostle Paul again wanted others to know that his sister in Christ Priscilla was a great help to him, even to the point of risking her life to help Paul.

I know of another four women just like that which we can read about in Romans 16:12, “My greetings to Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who work in the Lord’s service, and to my dear friend Persis, who has done so much work for the Lord.”

Paul again says he wants people to know about his sisters in Christ Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis who were a great help to Paul in proclaiming the Gospel.

And let me tell you loved ones, the church can experience a lot of growth today because today we still have godly women working hard in the background helping us men spread the gospel in places we men can’t reach. You know a lady member of this congregation once said to me, ‘I don’t think I’m doing much to serve the church’

But do you know what that lady’s problem was? She was only thinking about a Sunday morning.

You see serving is more than Sunday mornings, in fact when you think about it; it’s really only two hours of the week. But ladies, we men want you all to know this morning, that we just like Paul thank God for what you guys do, not only on Sundays but every day of the week. Because if this congregation is going to keep growing, a lot of it is going to be down to all the hard work you guys do, every other day of the week.

We know that you speak to your friends about Jesus. We know that you speak to your work colleagues about Jesus. We know that you talk to your family and neighbours about Jesus. We know that you’re trying to set up studies with people. We know that you hand out those special invites to people in your lives. And I just want to encourage you all to keep doing that because that’s a vital part of the Lord’s work for the congregation as a whole.

Another area we men want to encourage you all to keep doing is benevolence

Now I believe that all Christians should be involved with this especially as James tells us in James 1:27, “What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world”.

And just like we said when we looked at this passage a while ago, benevolence is the mark of pure and undefiled religion. And so all of us should be involved with this, but I think if there is ever an area of serving which suits women better, I think benevolence is it. Let me explain why.

You see I believe that women bring a certain kind of grace and beauty when it comes to helping others. A grace and beauty which men are normally not capable of. In areas where men just run in and hope for a quick fix to any problem, women seem to have this unique attribute of femininity which lends themselves well in areas of benevolence. And after speaking with the ladies of this congregation you can hear and see that they are full of mercy and compassion because it seems to be almost second nature to them.

Listen to what Paul says in Romans 12:6-8, “So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us. If our gift is to speak God’s message, we should do it according to the faith that we have; if it is to serve, we should serve; if it is to teach, we should teach; if it is to encourage others, we should do so. Whoever shares with others should do it generously; whoever has authority should work hard; whoever shows kindness to others should do it cheerfully.”

Now I know a lot of men who have these gifts but to tell you the truth I know a lot more women who have these gifts and use them. You see you can call me old fashioned but I believe there are certain areas where women are far superior in using their skills in the area of benevolence.

Let me share with you another lady we find within the Bible who was just like that. She was a woman who used her talents well for the benefit of the church.

“In Joppa, there was a woman named Tabitha, who was a believer. (Her name in Greek is Dorcas, meaning “a deer.”) She spent all her time doing good and helping the poor. At that time she got sick and died. Her body was washed and laid in a room upstairs. Joppa was not very far from Lydda, and when the believers in Joppa heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him with the message, “Please hurry and come to us.” So Peter got ready and went with them. When he arrived, he was taken to the room upstairs, where all the widows crowded around him, crying and showing him all the shirts and coats that Dorcas had made while she was alive.” Acts 9:36-39

Tabitha or Dorcas as her name is in Greek made clothes for those widows who were in much need. And she made a big difference in the lives of those widows and everyone she came into contact with was blessed by her efforts. And ladies you do the same every day of the week.

Think about it, you cook, clean, babysit, look after and minister to the physically and spiritually sick. And I don’t think that anyone is better at extending hospitality than women are. And ladies again let me encourage you to keep doing that.

Because if you ever take the time to read church history you will discover that one of the main reasons why the church grew so quickly was because of women like you guys who showed great hospitality.

“Do not add any widow to the list of widows unless she is over sixty years of age. In addition, she must have been married only once and have a reputation for good deeds: a woman who brought up her children well, received strangers in her home, performed humble duties for other Christians, helped people in trouble, and devoted herself to doing good.” 1 Timothy 5:9-10

When I read that I automatically think about the ladies within our congregation. Those who have good reputations, those who have and still are bringing their children up well. Those who have welcomed strangers into their house and worked together humbly with other Christians.

Those who have helped countless people who are in trouble and are totally devoted to doing good. I’ve said already this morning but thank God for women like you guys because you are a great blessing to the Lord’s work here at Great Barr in countless ways.

When St. Theresa was laughed at because she wanted to build a great orphanage, and had but three shillings to work with, she answered: “With three shillings Theresa can do nothing; but with God and three shillings there is nothing that Theresa cannot do.”

You see ladies you may not think that you have a lot to offer people, but if you offer God what little you do have, with God’s help you can do anything. And we all need to recognise that any work that a woman does in the area of benevolence is a powerful contribution to the work and to the reputation of our congregation.

And so ladies, please don’t stop doing that, you guys are making a huge difference not only in the lives of your brothers and sisters in Christ but also in the lives of everyone you meet and help.

Another area I believe that women have an essential role is their contribution toward the edification of the church

Now again this is another area within the congregation where all Christians need to be involved. Paul says in Ephesians 4:15-16, “Instead, by speaking the truth in a spirit of love, we must grow up in every way to Christ, who is the head. Under his control, all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.”

Paul says we all need to be involved in the building of the Lord’s body.

We all need to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” according to Galatians 6:2. We all need to “Comfort each other and edify one another” according to 1 Thessalonians 5:11. We all need to “Comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak” according to 1 Thessalonians 5:14. We all need to be involved with those areas of edification of the church.

But again, I believe our women do this in such a glorious way. Yes, women can’t preach or teach during the worship assembly but they can still preach and teach. According to 2 Timothy 1:5 and 2 Timothy 3:14-15 grandmothers and mothers can teach children, as Lois and Eunice did with Timothy.

And I know that we have a few women who are very active in teaching not only their own children but other children about God. According to Titus 2:3-5 older women can and should teach younger women. Again this is something I see happening every time you have your lady’s time once a month.

A lady who adopted a baby orphan girl lavished upon her the same love and care as upon her own children. When the child was old enough to attend school, she one day heard someone there remark that she was “only an adopted child.” She ran home crying bitterly and sobbed out to the lady: “Is it true that I’m not really your little girl,” “Why, of course, you’re my little girl,” was the answer. “Isn’t this your own home, and aren’t May and Josey and Willie and Tom your sisters and brothers?” The child’s head was laid in her mother’s lap, and the lady stroked her hair soothingly: “But, mother, did you born me?”

We are not by birth children of God. No, sin stamps us as children of the devil by birth. But, the moment we receive Christ as Saviour we are adopted as children of God. And not only that–to make assurance doubly sure, God provides an actual birth, a new birth–the second birth.

The Scots have a soft, pleasant word for children. They call them “bairns” “Bairns” means born ones. Thank God, those who have broken with sin and have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour are both adopted orphans and “bairns.” For Jesus’ sake, God adopts us as Jesus’ brethren; and through the Holy Spirit, he regenerates us. Christians are both adopted and born as God’s children.

You see sometimes God adds people to His number who have never benefited from having godly mothers or godly grandmothers. And so in many ways, the ladies here become almost like their surrogate mothers and grandmothers to these new converts. But if there is one area of edification I believe is very powerful, it’s when you’re feeling down and you need someone to talk to.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have spoken to the women of this congregation individually at different times when I am going through a difficult time. And the words of encouragement I have received have really helped me in my time of struggle and I thank God for each of you for allowing God to use you in this way. It has been said that men are natural producers, whereas women are natural nurturers.

And that is so true, when we look at society today with so many dysfunctional families and emotional problems, the gift of encouragement and nurturing possessed by many women is essential for the work of the Lord.

And like I said not only me but many teachers and preachers have been helped by godly women encouraging them in their work. And ladies please keep doing that, your role in the edification of the congregation is essential.

And I want each of you today to know that there is a special need for you all to see yourselves as teachers of young people and other women and as encouragers of us men in our work of preaching the gospel. And we men want you all to know that we see what you’re doing and thank God for each of you.

Now the final area where the ladies are heavily involved is your contribution towards evangelism.

Now again this is another area where we all need to be involved. Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20 “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

We all have a duty to share the gospel with others and remember according to Romans 1:16 it’s the gospel which has the power to save people. But again this is another area where we find that women can help preach the gospel in different ways. They can help support those who preach the gospel just like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna did in Luke 8:1-3.

They can help support those who preach the gospel by providing much-needed hospitality, as did Lydia in Acts 16:15. I know that you guys can tell others about Christ because you’re already busy doing that. And ladies please don’t ever think you’re insignificant because like we said earlier God can use whatever you have to offer.

And if you ever think well, I have got nothing to offer, I’m just a woman, just remember the example of the Samaritan woman. After talking with Jesus this insignificant woman, who isn’t even mentioned by name does something incredible.

“Then the woman left her water jar, went back to the town, and said to the people there. Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah?” So they left the town and went to Jesus.” John 4:28-30

And look what happened because this insignificant woman with no name took the time to tell others about Jesus.

“Many of the Samaritans in that town believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they begged him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days. Many more believed because of his message, and they told the woman, “We believe now, not because of what you said, but because we ourselves have heard him, and we know that he really is the Saviour of the world.” John 4:39-42

This insignificant woman was instrumental in converting many people to Christ and each of you ladies here today are just as instrumental as she was back then.

Then there was Priscilla, who with her husband according to Acts 18:1-4 provided a place for Paul to stay during his ministry at Corinth. And not only that, she actually helped according to Acts 18:24-26 to convert Apollos at Ephesus.

And if that wasn’t enough according to 1 Corinthians 16:19 she also helped host a congregation of the saints at Ephesus in her home.

“In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe God’s word, your conduct will win them over to believe. It will not be necessary for you to say a word, because they will see how pure and reverent your conduct is.” 1 Peter 3:1-2 

What I’m saying is that even without a word, godly women can lead others to Christ, including unbelieving husbands. Many souls have been saved, and churches started, through the evangelistic efforts of godly women.

Now like I said at the start of this sermon, I’ve said everything this morning to bring more awareness to the men about all the things the ladies of this congregation are involved with in the background.

But I also want you ladies to know that we love you guys and pray that God will give you the strength and grace to carry on doing what you are doing. Ladies keep praying because I believe there is something deeply spiritual about a woman’s prayer and we know that prayer is the most powerful weapon we all possess.

So please don’t think that you’re not contributing to the work here at Great Barr, you are in a very big way. And remember that God sees what your doing which is far more important than anyone else seeing what you’re doing.

Loved ones as someone once said, the true measure of a local church is not defined only by what occurs in the assembly, it includes what the members do day by day, in the home, at work, and in the world. It involves what benevolence, edification, and evangelism take place on a daily, personal basis.

And when godly women are active in the service of the Lord, like you all are, using the unique talents and opportunities given to them, do you know what happens?

Souls are saved

they are strengthened in the Lord and cared for in times of need. The Lord’s church is made stronger, and the kingdom of God is expanded in the world. And so when I look around at the ladies of our congregation, do you know what I see? I see women like Mary Magdalene, Dorcas, Lydia, Priscilla, Lois, Eunice, and Phoebe.

So let me leave you with the words of Paul and a few words of my own to encourage our ladies to keep going.

“I recommend to you our sisters Miranda, Funmi, Yemi, Pat, Jennifer, Nike, Janet, and Sisi, who serves the church at Great Barr. Receive them in the Lord’s name, as God’s people should, and give them any help they may need from you; for they all have been a good friend to many people and also to me”. Romans 16:1-2

And men may we never take for granted nor belittle the valuable service provided by our sisters in Christ, but may we receive and encourage them in a way worthy of the saints.