Sunday 17 August 2014
Key Passage: John 12:26
If anyone serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves me, him My Father will honour. NKJV
Recently, during our family devotion, I asked my children a number of questions. First, I asked them individually if they had committed their lives to Christ. They all answered in the affirmative. Again, I asked if they loved the Lord Jesus Christ with their hearts. I still got a positive answer. Finally, I asked if they would want to serve the Lord. There was a momentary silence until my wife hinted that maybe, I needed to clarify what it means to serve the Lord.
I then explained that serving the Lord does not necessarily mean being a pastor, a preacher or a full time Christian worker. Serving the Lord means using whatever gifts, talents, skills and opportunities that God has given us to glorify Him. It means making God your priority, obeying Him and making the advancement of His kingdom your preoccupation. For instance, it could be singing in the choir; serving as an usher or greeter; teaching in the Children’s Sunday School etc. It also includes giving to support the work of the kingdom. It is not something that happens only in church but also wherever we find ourselves. At that point, everyone agreed that they were willing to serve the Lord.
I recently read the story of a cathedral in Europe that was devastated by bombings during World War II. After the war, members of the church volunteered to rebuild the cathedral. One of the casualties of the bombing was a large statue of Jesus with outstretched arms and the inscription “Come unto Me.” The workers discovered that they could restore all the other parts of the statue except for the hands. A decision was therefore reached to leave out the hands of Jesus. A new inscription was now written, “Christ has no hands but ours.” To serve Christ includes being His hand to a dying world. See Matthew 25:31-46.
Jesus said that His Father would honour the person who serves Him. To serve Jesus therefore is choosing a path of honour. Most people seek to be honoured by other human beings but there is an honour that comes only from God (John 5:44) and that’s the kind of honour God promises those who would serve Jesus.
WHY SHOULD WE SERVE HIM?
We were created by Him so it is a duty we owe Him. Psalm 100:2-3 admonishes us to “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.” Why? Because “It is He who has made us, not we ourselves…” God has the highest stake in our lives. Also, we read these words in Revelation 4:11.
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honour and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Serving God is an expression of gratitude to Him for His goodness towards us. Samuel reminded Israel: “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24
If you are not serving God then you are missing what God designed you to do.
HOW SHOULD WE SERVE HIM?
From the text, Jesus said “If anyone serves me, let him follow me…” The first requirement to serve Him is to follow Him. There are those who are dedicated to a religious organization or a charismatic leader, but they do not follow Jesus. To follow Jesus is to strive to be like Him, to make effort to apply His teachings to your daily life and circumstances.
In the book entitled ‘IN HIS STEPS’ Charles Sheldon captured what happens when people decide to follow the steps of Christ. Before they did anything they first of all asked “What would Jesus do?” It led to the transformation of individuals, families, organizations and even the community.
It is only those who follow Jesus that can serve Him effectively and make impact for Him whether in the church or in the society. They see themselves like what Paul said in Colossians 3:23-24 “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Some people are unwilling to follow Jesus because sometimes, it involves a lot of sacrifice. They are afraid of what they will lose or the inconvenience it would cause them. That may be true, but at the same time, ultimately, there will be things to gain that are far greater than anything we could lose. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26.
Jesus clearly promised two blessings for those who serve Him:
1. “Where I am, there My servant will be also”
2. “If anyone serves me, him My Father will honour.”
To be where Christ is, that is the promise of eternal life. What can be greater than being with Christ for all eternity? Westminster Shorter Catechism captures it very well. What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. That’s what will happen in the by-and-by for those who serve Him in the here and now. The second promise is that of honour, not just in heaven but even whilst here on earth.
MY FATHER WILL HONOUR HIM
The idea that God would regard a person with great respect and esteem may be too lofty for us to comprehend but that’s exactly what He promises those who faithfully serve Him. In 1 Samuel 2:30 God said to Eli “…for those who honour Me I will honour, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” Psalm 91 has become very popular because of the present Ebola pandemic. In it we find the following promise:
“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.”
The honour can come in the form of a blessing or a reputation that subsists from one generation to another. God often uses people to honour those who serve Him.
Notice that Jesus used the word “IF” twice in the text. Serving Him is a decision we have to intentionally make; God will not compel us to make that choice. When Joshua was about to die, he challenged the children of Israel to make this vital decision:
14 “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 16 So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17 for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God” (Joshua 24:14).
It was Bob Dylan who sang:
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
He is right. If you are not serving God it is probable that you are serving something else! If you resent serving Him here on earth then why hope to be with Him in heaven:
“And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” Revelations 22:3
When you commit your life to serving the Lord, you will never know what the outcome would be in the years to come and ultimately in eternity.