TEXT: Romans 12:1-21
Christian service is a natural consequence of being born again. The fact that we are left here after we had given our lives to Christ until we are called home to glory implies that serving the Lord is a direct result of our salvation. Consecration, submission and service are significant hall marks of our Christi an calling. Submission entails complete yielded-ness to God and His word. A consecrated and submissive life finds expression in a daily life of committed Christian service. This is an age when hoards of people are obsessed with selfish and inordinate ambition. People are engrossed in a quest that zeros in on self-attainment, education, prosperity, power, popularity, prominence and pride. People, including so-called believers, are more interested in making money than serving the Lord. They would rather give their best time to acquire mundane physical things than render service that has eternal value to others.
In the face of all these, it becomes essential to examine the only selfless cause, which transcends life here and is significant enough to enjoy heaven’s attention and reward on the last day.
THE PATTERN OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE (Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 14:23; 19:10)
The striking peculiarity of Christian service in today’s world is its variegated pattern. Our daily life of service as Christians covers diverse areas. But broad as it may seem, i t can be neatl y summed up i nto four unmistakable areas of service: one, service to God (verses 1,2); two, service to ourselves (verses 3-8); three, service to the brethren or the body of Christ (verses 9-16) and four, service to the world (verses 17-21).
In all its varied shapes and forms, the most compelling of our daily service is the preaching of the gospel, otherwise known as evangelism. Simply put, evangelism is the deliberate, purposeful and prayerful effort of sharing the gospel with another with the intent of winning him or her to the Lord. When we evangelise or witness, we are serving God by helping others make the most important decision of their lives. We are helping them to come out of darkness into light and escape eternal damnation in hell. Through this effort, the soulwinner helps the sinner get on the path to spending eternity with God in heaven. A former communist who gave a fanatic devotion to communism, George North, later found Christ and in his new zeal, underscored the significance of regular witnessing: “Picture your town, if every believer gave out gospel tracts every evening, if every weekend they held large open air meetings or indoor rallies; told their workmates everyday about Jesus; gave every spare coin to His cause, and invested every spare minute in prayer…
If you cannot preach, give. If you cannot give, distribute tracts. If you cannot distribute tracts, talk to your friends.” This is the picturesque expression of our daily life of evangelism. Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature… go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Mark 16:15; Luke 9:60). “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). “ Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). Evangelism, therefore, is considered as every believer’s daily service.
The church has many areas of work where we can get involved and utilise our God-given gifts. Involvement in the laity work of the church is another form of Christian service where we can daily exercise ourselves. The wise Creator has bestowed on us different abilities, gifts and talents, which Apostle Paul refers to as “gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.” Some have the gift of caring, love and leadership. They love to visit and share their material and spiritual blessings with other people. Some can serve as home caring fellowship leaders, zonal leaders and district pastors. Some have the gift of praying: they can be involved in the prayer warriors’ team of the church. Some Christians are mature and seasoned by reason of their development and exposure: they may be chosen to be missionaries or ministers. Some others can be chosen to sing or play musical instruments. Some are blessed with natural strong physique and may make good ushers. Some have spare time and they could spend it in the church seeing to the cleanliness of the environment. Some have given themselves to the serious study of God’s word and acquisition of wisdom and they make good counsellors and Bible teachers. Still, others have been blessed of God with material things – money, mansions, means and connections – so that they can support church projects, Christian
workers and the needy. “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality”. Paul wrote about this multifaceted pattern of Christian service and gifts thus: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).
PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN SERVANTS (Romans 12:9-21; Zechariah 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 2:12)
The principle of Christian servants are worthy of serious consideration. There are conditions we must meet before we can serve. The conditions are as applicable under the New Testament as they were under the Old. In the Old Testament, God said to Zechariah, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by” (Zechariah 3:7). The word “if” shows the conditional nature of Christian service. It is, therefore, a grave distortion of truth to assume that there are no moral or spiritual conditions for Christian servants.
The foremost condition is that we must “be first partakers of the fruit” (2 Timothy 2:6). We cannot invite a friend to follow the Saviour we have not fully followed. A Christian who professes and possesses a solid relationship with the Lord must follow Him, do the things He says and walk as He walked. Second, servant s of t he Lord must live holy, unblamable lives. “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). God’s perfect plan is that “we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74,75). This implies that self must be dead for our service to be acceptable and profitable. There must be a holy and sincere courtesy, which pushes self back and prefers others. Third, we should serve with sobriety. A sober disposition cancels the air of self-importance or selfconceitedness. Sobriety discourages an overly good
opinion of oneself. Paul, in our text, puts it this way: “For I say through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith…we should live soberly, righteously, an godly, in this present world” (Romans 12:3; Titus 2:12). Fourth, our daily Christian service must be carried out with fervour and zeal. A lukewarm, halfhearted service is as good as idling. Neither a lackadaisical, grudging disposition, nor a lazy attitude in matters of
divine service is encouraged, for it is unprofitable. We must, at all times, remember that this is the Lord’s service and it requires our utmost best. Paul says, “Not slothful in business; fervent in Spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).Fifth, our daily Christian service must be backed with love. Love is the motivating factor that is essential and
needful for service. It is the greatest constraining power in the world. Christ came down into the world out of
love for lost humanity. “Greater love hath no man than these, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). “God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We must love God, the church and sinners before we can serve them. “ Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9). Sixth, we must saturate our service with supplication.
Prayer directs and puts profit on our service. Jesus’ service to the world was backed with constant prayer, supplication and communion with God. Our little effort becomes much when it is bathed in prayer. We must
“[continue] instant in prayer ” for effectiveness in whatever area of service we find ourselves. Finally, our service must be done in the power of the Spirit of God. The secret of unceasing, continual successful service is rendering service in His power and abiding in Him. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in me” (John 15:4). Much can be done when the Spirit of God has
full control of our lives. Jesus knew this and said: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
PROMISES TO CHRISTIAN SERVANTS (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; Exodus 23:25; Mark 9:41; Luke 6:35; 1 Corinthians 15:58)
The promises to Christian servants are rich and noble. Some of these promises are temporal and others transcend the present into eternity.
There is a promise of reward to servants who do enduring work for the Lord. “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward” (1 Corinthians 3:14). “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29,30).
Second, Christian servants have the promise of eternal abode with their Master, Jesus Christ. “If any man serve
me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (John 12:26). Christ is on the right hand of the Father now; there we shall be with Him if we serve Him faithfully until the end. This implies that we shall share in the joy, bliss and glory of heaven. Third, servants of God shall be honoured by Him. His honour is not like that which men bestow on others. It is the true, lasting and highest honour that anyone can have.
Though servants of God receive a measure of the promised honour on earth, the greatest and highest will be bestowed on them in heaven. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).