On returning from a Christian Convention Bro. W. G. Smith was asked, “How many servants of the Lord were at the conference?” Eyebrows were raised in astonishment as he replied, “I would say there were about two hundred and fifty.”
“Two hundred and fifty preachers for one week-end conference!” someone exclaimed. “No!” was the reply, “Not preachers, but servants of the Lord. About 250 believers met together on Lord’s Day morning to break bread, every one of them saved that they might serve the Lord in one way or another.”
There is a rich blessing in store for young Christians who grasp the scriptural truth that we have been saved for a definite purpose. It is not only that we should escape eternal punishment and be sure of a place in Heaven; the Lord has a work for us to do for Himself while we are here on earth.
In this article we shall consider the topic of service under four main headings: Why? Where? How? and When? May the Lord, as you read, stir your heart to realize your responsibility and to esteem your privilege.
Serving the Lord is an Evidence of Obedience. Unconverted people desire their own way; they are children of disobedience. This is a characteristic trait of the natural man. Conversion is an about-face; regeneration imparts a new nature. Those who are led to faith in the Man of Calvary, exclaim, like Saul of Tarsus, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Being born into God’s family, we are to be obedient children.
Serving the Lord is an Evidence of Affection. The Thessalonians turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, as a labour of love. When we think of the Saviour’s love that led Him to suffer and die for our sins, our hearts should be filled with a love for Him that constrains us to serve Him. In John 21, Peter was enjoined to give evidence of His love for the Lord by feeding His lambs and tending His sheep.
Service for the Lord is also an Evidence of Compassion for those who are lost in sin, or those that are afflicted and tried. The Son of God was moved with compassion when He saw the multitudes. If we are truly His, we should follow His example, being similarly stirred to do whatever we can that others may be brought to the One who alone can fully meet their needs.
True service is also an Evidence of Humility. There is no place for pride or self-exaltation. He who would serve God acceptably will not aspire to a place of pre-eminence, where he will be head and shoulders over others. Rather, he will follow the example of his Master, stooping low to the very feet of the saints. Paul sought no flattering titles nor did he aspire to any high office. With all lowliness of mind he esteemed others better than himself, choosing to be called the bond-servant of Jesus Christ.
The second question for our consideration is, Where should we serve the Lord? So many young people feel an urge for the far off mission field because of fancied glamour and glory. A colourful book, or an illustrated missionary talk, makes the distant land so appealing. Your field of service may be right on your own doorstep!
The Ascending Lord commissioned His disciples with the words, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The order is significant.
They were first enjoined to be Witnesses in Jerusalem. In other words, they were to return home; their service was to commence in their own immediate area. When the healed demoniac of Mark 5 sought to go forth with the Lord, he was told to go home to his friends and tell them.
Never think that the Lord’s work involves only the mission field. Consider Colossians 3, where it is revealed that active and acceptable service for the Lord may be performed in the family circle. The wife may do so by her subjection to her husband and by the rearing of her family in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Children will please the Lord by obeying their parents in all things. Before you witness for Christ in the uttermost parts of the earth, begin at Jerusalem; that is, start at home.
In an enlarging field of service, the disciples were to be Witnesses in all Judaea. We, too, may reach out to our neighbours, to our school mates, or to those with whom we work, witnessing to them for the Lord. Do not suppose that you will have courage to speak of Christ in far-away lands if you have not enough heart to tell your friends and acquaintances that you belong to Him.
There is plenty that you can do for the Lord in your own vicinity, if you have a mind for the work. Assist in every way possible with activities of your assembly; be helpers together by prayer and by your presence at all the meetings.
You will notice that the one to whom the Master said, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” was not then ruler over five great cities. Rather, he was commended because he had been diligent in that which was least.
In the ever widening circle of service, they were also to be Witnesses in Samaria. This entails more than preaching in an adjacent province or an adjoining country. They were called to serve in a sphere that was against the natural desires of the heart. John 4 reveals that the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans.
In obedience to the Lord and impelled by love for Him, we too at times must do that which is unpleasant. We must be ready to face prejudice, opposition and even open hostility. True service for Him requires a complete submitting to His will, though it may be hard on the flesh.
Finally, the disciples were enjoined to be Witnesses unto the World. The Gospel message is to be proclaimed to every creature, for God is no respecter of persons.
Our interest in the Gospel should broaden out to the ends of the earth. It may be that the Lord will open up the way for you to evangelize in some distant land. More likely He will permit you to be a partner in the work by your prayers, or by strengthening the hand of some of His servants by sending them gifts of fellowship to supply their necessities.
There is much to be done; let us be busy where we are and the Lord will direct us into other avenues of service as He sees fit.
It is possible to be very active and zealous yet not be pleasing to the Lord. Paul reminded the Corinthians that in the Christian race some may outrun others and at the last be disapproved of Him.
We should serve Heartily, as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23). Of Hezekiah it is written, “In every work … he did it with all his heart, and prospered” (2 Chron. 31:21). The Lord deserves our best at all times.
We are also admonished to serve Him Reverently, with godly fear (Heb. 12:28). There must be due recognition of His Lordship and an attitude of respect for His person and His name. He would have those who serve Him to comport themselves with a dignity and sobriety that is in keeping with His highness and holiness.
Furthermore, we should serve Him Steadily, not spasmodically. There are those who are so energetic and enthusiastic at times, yet later they become almost inert. The Bible says, “Be ye stedfast … always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
Finally, we should serve Him Unselfishly, not pleasing ourselves. Personal gain or comfort must be forgotten in the overwhelming desire to do the will of Him who calls us to be workers together with Him. Even Christ pleased not Himself (Rom. 15:3), and He has left us an example, that we should follow His steps (1 Pet. 2:21).
So many Christians relegate service to some time in the future. The Lord in the parable of the two sons says, “Son, go work today in My vineyard” (Matt. 21:28). There is no time to lose, start now.
First of all, the Need Is Great. There are perishing souls all around us, in the neighbourhood, in the school, in the shop. “Say not ye, There are yet four months … lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are ripe already to harvest” (Jno. 4:35).
Moreover, the Time Is Short. The day of grace is quickly drawing to a close; the night cometh when no man can work. Let us therefore redeem the time, because the days are evil.
For those who serve Him, the Blessings are Abundant. Whenever a sinner is brought to Christ, both sower and reaper rejoice together.
If you are active for the Lord, faithfully witnessing on His behalf to your friends, you will be less susceptible to the alluring influence of this present evil world and the temptations of the devil will not easily entice you.
When Nehemiah received a subtle invitation from the enemy to meet in the plain of Ono, he was able to say, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Neh. 6:3).
Finally, we should commence serving now because the Reward is Eternal. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, every one will receive praise of Him, according to that which has been done for His glory. The crowning reward, in that coming day, will be to look upon those who have been brought to Christ through our efforts and to hear the Lord proclaim, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”