Secret of Successful Service
We are most happy to introduce brother Ross Mclntee to our readers. His article, while especially for the Christian youth, is suitable for everyone. At some later date, we hope to have more of the written ministry of our brother.
There are three men whom we all know whose service for the Lord as recorded in the Bible was most successful. In fact, their service was of such infinite value to the Lord that He has preserved the account of it for an eternal remembrance in His Word. These three men were: Simon of Cyrene, John the Apostle, and Joseph of Arimathea. It was Simon, you will remember, who bore the cross of Christ; John who cared for His mother; and Joseph who buried His body.
All young persons today might well consider these three men and the work they performed for their dying Lord. By so doing, they may learn lessons that will be of value in Christian service.
First of all, let us consider
The Secret of Service
Why did the Saviour choose these three men to complete these important tasks? Why was it that others among the eleven disciples were not chosen? Why were Simon, John, and Joseph chosen, but not Peter, James, or Philip? What is the secret? It is extremely evident that these three men were very near to Him during the time of His suffering. They saw His agony; they heard His sighs; they were near His cross.
Simon, that day, stood on the road that led to Calvary. He likely was in the very front row of that hostile crowd, gazing with possible sympathy upon the Saviour as He tailed under His heavy burden. Had he not thus been near, he never would have had the privilege of bearing the cross of His Lord.
Had not John, on that same occasion, been standing very near to his dying Lord, gazing with tear-dimmed eye on His bleeding form, he never would have heard Christ’s voice instructing him to care for His mother.
Had not Joseph been there to watch his Lord die, never would his heart have been made willing to give his own new tomb to his blessed Master.
Let us learn well this most important lesson that service for Christ cannot effectually be done unless we remain near His cross. The young Christian who by faith frequents that holy place to gaze upon his blessed Lord, unconsciously is being prepared for the work God would have him do. A Christian cannot stand by Calvary, viewing for any length of time, that unparalleled display of love without that mighty love forcing its way into his heart.
Simon who thus witnessed his tortured Lord willingly toiling under the weight of the cross, soon found himself bearing that cross. The display of the mighty love of the Lord Jesus so overwhelmed the heart of John that readily he lavished the love of a son upon a woman who was not his own mother, Mary. It was the same with Joseph, for as he saw his Lord giving His all in death, he purposed in his heart to give, and this he commenced to do by giving his own new tomb. No wonder Paul exclaimed, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Gal. 5:14).
Signal for Service
What indications intimated to these three men that their Lord had service for them to do? How did they know His will for them? Occasionally, this great matter arises in our own minds, and we wonder what God’s will is for us. How did Simon know be was to bear His cross, or John that he was to care for His mother, or Joseph that he was to bury His body?
Think of Simon! How did he know what he was to do? He actually had no choice whatever, for he was taken by the rough soldiers and forced to do a job that he had no intention of doing; he was compelled to do it. This is often the case with us; rough circumstances over which we have no control force us into a path of service. Let us remember that if these circumstances are to be taken as His will for us, we must abide near the cross.
How did John know that he was to care for the Saviour’s mother? He found out by a different method to that of Simon. John literally heard the Lord’s voice speaking to him and telling him exactly what to do. The Saviour has not ceased speaking to His own; He now speaks through His Word, the Holy Scriptures; and, if we read and meditate with listening hearts while abiding near His cross, as John, we shall hear His voice and learn His will.
In what way did Joseph learn that he was to bury the Lord’s body? While he stood gazing at that tragic scene of crucifixion, no one came and told him to bury his Lord. No! Nevertheless, he was constrained to act; it seemed the natural and logical thing for him to do. He realized that his Lord would need a tomb; he possessed one; moreover, he knew his Lord would appreciate it. Thus in his heart grew the conviction that he should bury the Lord in his own tomb. Frequently in life, we are confronted by some service for the Lord, and in the depths of our hearts we feel urged to do it. We feel that He will appreciate it, and that it will make His heart glad. Why then not do it? Perhaps there is a tract to pass out, a faithful word to speak, or a teacher’s position in the Sunday School to assume. Inwardly, we know we should. It is for His glory! It is His will!
Thus we have illustrated for us three signs along the pathway of life which guide us in our service for God: circumstances, the Word of God, and His divine Spirit. When we are faced with a major decision in life, these three provide safe and sound guidance by which we may ascertain His will.
The Sphere of Service
Each of these three men were used by the Lord in different ways, but each way was of equal importance.
Simon’s sphere of service was in the physical realm. He devoted his strength to the Lord Jesus, and it was used by Him. Many of us today have strength, both spiritual and mental that could be used for His glory. Was not Simon doing exactly as Paul exhorts us to do? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). The Lord has use for these bodies of ours, therefore, in our youth we ought to offer them to Him. There is the danger of using our physical and mental abilities merely to master professions and trades, without putting forth any effort or zeal to master the Word of God or to do His service. May we, as did Simon, give our strength to our Lord Jesus.
The sphere of service in which John was used was in the family realm. Willingly he took Mary into his own home and lovingly cared for her. What a tremendous field of service is the home! There we may reach our unsaved brothers and sisters, our parents and our children. There we may, as John, display the grace of hospitality to the glory of God. Not only is the family a wonderful field for Christian service, but there our conduct has a distinct effect upon our service. A young Christian cannot expect to serve the Lord if he does not show obedience, respect, and godliness at home. A young married couple cannot serve the Lord acceptably if they are quarrelling and bickering together. It is only when the love of Christ, as John displayed it, manifests itself in their home that they can effectually honour the Lord.
A wonderful (service in finances was rendered to Christ by Joseph. It was a very costly business for Joseph to serve the Lord Jesus. The tomb was valuable, the linen expensive; notwithstanding, he gave them willingly. We, too, shall find that if we are to live a successful Christian life, it will cost us something in dollars and cents. Solomon declared, “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat” (Prov. 11:24-25).
Under the Levitical system, God’s people were law-bound to give one tenth to Him. Under grace we are love-bound to give as the Lord prospers us. Let us seek to give generously and cheerfully. The service of Joseph was not confined to the giving of money, and no true Christian service ever is. For along with the tomb were given the humility, the courage, and the time required to beg the body of Jesus; the physical energy and the love that were necessary to gently remove the nails, the care to lower that limp form and to swath it tenderly in linen, to lay it in the tomb; and, finally, to block its entrance. May we, as Joseph, not be satisfied with merely giving money, but along with it may we give the Lord the humility of our hearts, the time, the energy, and the love of which He is worthy.
May we never forget the secret of abiding near the cross of our Saviour, of meditating upon His sufferings and glories, for it is then that we shall unconsciously be prepared for His service.