Servants Ideally

Every Christian knows that he is the Lord’s servant. “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification” (Rom. 6:22). But like other appellations (saint, child of God, Christian) the phrase servant of God is not merely a designation, but a description of what a Christian does. When Paul says, “I beseech you brethren . . . to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service,” he shows that God’s bondsman must constantly be about the business (and that means “busyness”) of accomplishing the Lord’s will.

Since the beginning of time, God’s servants have largely been a lazy, unproductive lot. Knowing the Master’s wishes, we postpone our compliance, or ignore his orders altogether. “Hear you deaf! And look you blind that you may see. Who is blind but My servant, or so the deaf as My messenger whom I send? . . . You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; your ears open, but none hears” (Isaiah 42:18-20).

But the ideal servant of God, described in Isaiah 50, displays a different attitude: “The Lord God has given me a tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens me morning by morning, he awakens my ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord God has opened my ear; and I was not disobedient, nor did I turn back” (v. 4-5).

I don’t know about you, but the above words indict this servant of the Lord. From my earliest years, I have known the truth, having been instructed from God’s word; I have been given a tongue capable of teaching the gospel to others. But many times I have failed to speak. I recall with regret those occasions when I was too embarrassed to stand up for the Lord, too timid to proclaim his truth. To how many weary ones, loaded down with the burden of sin, have I neglected to extend a helping hand?

God does not awaken me morning by morning. The fault is not his however; this disciple has simply declined to listen. Too often I have risen to the buzz of the alarm, hurried to the shower, hastily dressed, then gone out the door in a rush, never stopping to pray or even think about my God. He was present, ready to converse; I just didn’t notice Him.

And how many times have I disobeyed, though the Lord had opened my ear. I understood what he desired of me, but the temptation was too strong, I thought. Actually, doing my Master’s will has become unimportant. His wishes failed to coincide with my own, so I rebelled, turning back on him whom I claim to serve.

But I am sure I do not corner the market on slothful service (though the realization eases none of my guilt.) Each of us constantly needs to examine our work, or lack thereof, and correct a possibly self-seeking attitude. What can we do to motivate ourselves to better service? First, we need to remember the bountiful blessings God has poured out upon us. Are we so blind and short-sighted that we have forgotten our purification from our former sins? (II Pet. 1:9). We
need to recall God’s beneficence in reconciling us to himself, for truly “the kindness of God leads you to repentance”(Rom. 2:4).

Also, we must keep the hope of heaven securely fixed in our minds. “And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and his bond-servants shall serve him . . . and there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:3,5). The labor is always less burdensome when the final reward is kept in view.

The psalmist once asked, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (116:12). The answer is more diligent service. Let each of us toil as a servant of God ideally should, and the Lord will say of us, “Behold, My servant . . .My chosen one in whom My soul delights” (Isaiah 42:1).