Monday, April 5, 2010

Serve for God's Glory (not your own)

According to 1 Timothy 4:7-8 the purpose of spiritual discipline is godliness. If we are to be like Christ—that is what Godliness means—then we must discipline ourselves to serve as Jesus served
Mark 10:45—“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
“Fellowship with God leads straight to obedience and good works. That is the divine order and it can never be reversed. No one can long worship God in spirit and in truth before the obligation to holy service becomes too strong to resist.” - A.W. Tozer
The call to serve the King of kings and Lord of lords seems exciting and noble, but typically it is as undistinguished as washing someone’s feet. The ministry of serving may be glorious, but it is most often ordinary.

There are public ways of serving:

  • Pastoring

  • Singing/playing an instrument

  • Teaching

  • Giving a testimony

Serving, however, usually involves things like…

  • Nursery duty

  • Audio/visual tech

  • trash duty

  • serving meals and cleaning up afterwards

  • running errands for the homebound

  • taking a meal to a family

“Most service, even that which seems the most glamorous, is like an iceberg. Only the eye of God ever sees the larger, hidden part of it. Serving is as commonplace as the practical needs it seeks to meet." - Donald Whitney
Why does serving require discipline? Because two of our deadliest sins—laziness and pride oppose any kind of service except that which serves the self. If we do not discipline ourselves to serve then we will only serve occasionally or when it’s convenient or when it’s self-serving.
“[Serve others] to train yourself away from arrogance, possessiveness, envy, resentment, or covetousness.” - Dallas Williard

Every Christian is Expected to Serve

The life of a believer is not a life of idleness. When you are born again your sins are forgiven, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses your conscience in order for you to, “serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).
“There is no such thing as spiritual unemployment or spiritual retirement in the Kingdom of God.” - Donald Whitney
Not in the church either.

Six motivations for disciplined service.

  1. Obedience—Deuteronomy 13:4. Any true Christian would say that he wants to obey God, but we disobey God by not serving Him. Not to serve God is sinful.
  2. Gratitude—1 Samuel 12:24. It is no burden to serve God when you regularly review what great things He has done for us. If we cannot be grateful servants of Him who is everything and in whom we have everything, what will make us grateful?
  3. Gladness -Psalm 100:2. Do not grudgingly or grimly or glumly serve God. Serve Him gladly! Something is wrong if you cannot serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 84:10). Is serving God something you really enjoy or merely endure?
  4. Forgiveness NOT Guilt - Isaiah 6:6-8. The prophet was straining out of his skin to serve God in any way possible; not because he felt guilty, but because his guilt was taken away.
    “The [saved] serves his Lord out of love for the God who gave so great a price for his redemption. O you who are seeking salvation by the works of the law, what a miserable life yours must be! The child of God works not for life, but from life; he does not work to be saved, he works because he is saved.” - C.H. Spurgeon

  5. Humility—John 13:12-16. The flesh will serve only to earn or gain something from the service. That is not Christ-like service (Philippians 2:3)
  6. Love—Galatians 5:13. There is no better fuel for service that burns longer and provides more energy than love.

“Do I like this work? No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonably refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse. But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to ‘Go’, and we go. Love constrains us.” - Anonymous missionary cited on pg. 123 in Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines

Every Christian is Gifted to Serve

At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit comes to live within you, and He brings gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11; Romans 12:4-8)! These gifts are given for service in and through the local church. Discipline yourself to faithfully serve in your church, using your spiritual gifts. This does not necessarily have to be a “recognized” or “elected” position. Work at overcoming the temptation to serve only when it’s convenient or exciting.

Serving is hard work.
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. - Colossians 1:29.
Here Paul is describing service to God as agonizing to the point of exhaustion! Good thing that God supplies the power to serve Him. Serving Jesus Christ in your local church will often he hard, but remember that service costing nothing usually accomplishes nothing. Also remember that while serving God is work, there is no work so rewarding and so enduring (John 4:34; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 6:10).

Making a Commitment

You are expected to serve. You are gifted to serve. The question is, are you willing to serve? At times—often times—serving is a matter of spiritual discipline. If you are to be like Jesus Christ, you must discipline yourself to serve as Jesus Christ served.

Are you willing to answer this “Help Wanted” ad?
Gifted volunteers for difficult service in the local expression of the kingdom of God. Motivation to serve should be obedience to God, gratitude, gladness, forgiveness, humility, and love. Service will rarely be glorious. Temptation to quit place of service will sometimes be strong. Volunteers must be faithful in spite of long hours, little or no visible results, and possibly no recognition except from God in eternity. Sign below if interested.

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