March 10, 2016

Christian Service

This morning I made plans for the day, yet asked God to guide me into what He wanted from me. He did. I had three phone calls, an invitation to tea, and some computer issues that were not on my to-do list. The PC problems were only indirectly related to serving others, but those telephone calls and trip to a café were definitely about putting my own plans aside for the people on the other end.

Christians are supposed to serve Christ by serving others, but we are not supposed to do it in our own strength and for our own benefit. Serving can make me feel fulfilled if it is rewarded by warm responses but if the service is easy, that usually means I’m doing it without relying on God. If it is me who gets the glory, that is also a clue that I’m doing it for me.

Today, serving others was all about relying on God. I needed His motivation, direction, strength, ideas, and love. My plans were important yet totally interrupted. I knew the blessing of God could not flow through me if I wasn’t willing to put them aside.

The challenge of serving His way is being willing and bendable. Chambers says if my life is to be a conduit for the life of Christ, my heart must “crumpled into the purpose of God” and filled with the Holy Spirit.

That is, to proclaim truth and be God’s vessel, He must “take us out of our own ideas” allow us to be “batter’d to shape and use.” This is total surrender to God and it gives Him total liberty in His servants, the only way that any service to anyone can bless them while God is given the glory.

The following words were written by Paul to a young preacher. I am not a preacher, but God’s Word speaks to me about the importance of being yielded to Him. First the charge Paul made to Timothy, then a brief job description for a Christian worker . . .

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1–5)

From this passage, Timothy’s job description included how he (and I) must serve others:

  • Make important news known publicly and loudly
  • Be available at all opportune and inopportune times
  • Prove or show sinners their guilt before God  
  • Admonish or warn forcefully as expressing strong disapproval (against sin)
  • Earnestly support or encourage a response or action (of repentance, obedience)
  • Work with patient endurance in pain or unhappiness
  • Teach, giving instruction in formal and informal settings, imparting knowledge or skill to others
  • Behave with restraint and moderation, not permitting excess
  • Be self-controlled, restrained, keeping control of yourself in all circumstances
  • Experience harm, distress, emotional pain
  • Do the duty of an evangelist
  • Entirely fulfill the role of ministry or service to others

My first thought was “Why would anyone want to be a pastor?” However, God gives grace to all who serve Him. Not every part of the job description is negative.

Also, I can think of several ways this applies to me. The first is that I must never take Christian ministry lightly or do anything without having my life in order. I cannot assume that being a Christian worker in any capacity is an easy assignment. Even though God does bless His workers, there is no mention in this passage about a life of peace, joy, and personal benefit.

Second, I need to pray earnestly for all pastors; those in my church, others I know by name, and those around the world. This is a most challenging task. We see the smiles, feel the handshakes, and appreciate the messages gathered and set on fire from the pulpit, but often we do not see the struggles defined by the job description that are part of their ministry to us!

Finally, serving is not a menial, no-brainer job. If it is service that relies on God with ‘self’ stepping out of the way, then the above job description makes it clear that God’s servants face great challenges that certainly require the power of our great God.

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