Lesson 12 -- third quarter 2007
August 19, 2007
© Copyright 2007
Why serve the Lord?
The need. Serving on the basis of need applies to both sides of the service equation, that is, to both the servant as well as the served one. As servants, our faithful service frequently enhances our sense of worth, accomplishment and fulfillment. So we need to serve. However, to serve effectively we must get beyond our own sense of need. We must serve because the One we serve needs our service. It isn't that He can't do the job Himself, and it isn't that He can't get someone else to do the job for Him, and it isn't that He couldn't make the rocks rise up to get His tasks accomplished. It is that He needs me, you, us to serve Him. So we need to serve. Interestingly, this business of serving Jesus becomes more practical (and more difficult) in light of Matthew 25:40 -- "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Get it?! This need imperative for service includes the needs of my fellow humans! If you are unwilling to serve "that certain person" then you just as well not try serving "That Certain Person"!
The call. Jesus calls each of His people to serve. He makes no exceptions and allows no excuses. He calls us to serve Him (and don't forget that includes others!) with the same zeal and sacrifice with which we served ourselves. Take time to meditate on the implications and applications of Romans 6:19 -- "as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness." And He calls us to serve Him, not out of mere obligation and duty, but because we love Him. Do we?
The reward. Let's not forget nor minimize this imperative for service. We could argue that the privilege of serving the Lord Himself ought to be reward enough for service. We could make the point that service motivated by love needs no reward. But I don't think even God makes these points. Otherwise, why would He encourage us with the assurance that He doesn't ever forget and will surely reward all according to their works? And why bother telling us that in due season we shall reap if we don't faint and quit? And what about that ultimate welcome: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord"?
The discipline of peace and joy
Discipline here does not mean "chastisement, punishment or correction." Here is a brief listing of some synonyms for discipline as we use it in this lesson: conduct, habit, method, exercise. In other words, the discipline of peace and joy means a manner of living which reflects peace and joy.
Some people enjoy being irritable, cranky, fussy and cantankerous. Others thrive on a steady diet of worry, fretfulness, and gloom and doom. And not too few are quite satisfied to be unforgiving, suspicious, greedy and bitter. Make no mistake, now; I am talking about Christians!!
For the Christian, peace and joy are matters of choice. Because of what Jesus has done and continues to do for us, we can choose to live in peace with joy in our hearts. However, this is not a matter of simply choosing to be peaceful, peaceable and joyful. It is a matter of deliberately choosing those things which produce peace and joy.
Come with me to a smorgasbord. Heap your plate full again and again from these main courses. Nourish yourself daily with these delicacies and you will learn the discipline of peace and joy.
Thankfulness. The Bible repeatedly admonishes us to be thankful (God knows that is good for our state of mind!). Thanksgiving in everything seems too much to expect and too impractical to live. I have found peace in not feeling constrained to be thankful for everything. God calls me to give thanks in everything, even when I do not feel thankful. One of the truths we can glean from Romans 1:21 is that those without thankful spirits soon have their hearts darkened -- without peace and joy.
Purity. Impurity and lust stain deeply and thoroughly. We all know the misery, turmoil and fear that come upon us when we do or think what is wrong. Keep yourself pure in mind and body if you would enjoy God's peace and joy.
Contentment. God calls us to be content with having food and clothing, whatever our situation with whatever we might have (1 Timothy 6:8; Philippians 4:11; Hebrews 13:5). Dissatisfaction is a terrible taskmaster. It forces us to trade peace and joy for the pursuit of more and better material things. In its grip we cannot enjoy what we have. We are so busy looking ahead that we cannot enjoy the present.
Forgiveness. How much peace and joy do we experience when we are bitter and unforgiving? Malice and suspicion are robbers of equal aptitude. I remind you again that the person most injured by these thieves is he who harbors them. Forgive, and peace and joy will be your companions.
Sharing. If the measure of your blessedness were determined by the amount and depth of your giving, how blessed would you be? Well, that is precisely how blessed you are! Look beyond yourself. Give yourself to the never-ending joy of meeting others' needs. Peace will embrace you.
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