Selfless Service

Tuesday, August 29, 2017, 6:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 12 (Select vv. NASB).

A Holy Sacrifice (vv. 1-2)

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Because of all that Jesus Christ did for us in dying on a cross for our sins, and being resurrected back to life, so that we could have new lives in him, we ought to give our lives to God, to live holy lives pleasing to him. In fact, this is what it means to believe in him, and to be in Christ by faith in him. It means we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It means our lives are no longer our own, to do with what we want, because we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ, and we now belong to God, so we are to honor God with our lives. It also means that we now live lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the image of Christ.

I think a lot of people think of worship of God as a song service during a worship service in a formal setting where we sing praise and worship songs together. But, singing is only one part of our worship of God. The main way in which we worship our Lord is with our lives via surrender, obedience, and walking in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. If we ignore his commands, and we still live to please the flesh, then we are not worshiping him no matter how enthusiastic we are when we sing during “worship” time. Our Lord is not looking for what we are willing to sacrifice or to give to him of our own accord, in our own way, and according to our own thinking. What he wants is us on the altar, submitted to him, and surrendered to his will.

Part of this worship of God not only means we give our lives to him, to be lived for his purposes and his will, but it means we forsake our lives of living to please ourselves. We no longer conform our lives after the ways (attitudes, thinking, believing, philosophies, culture, and behaviors) of this sinful world. We should stand out from the world and be different. We should not immerse ourselves in our societies and blend in with the world so that the world will like us. So, we should not be giving our lives over to self-pleasure, entertainment, and to doing just what makes us feel good, either. But, we should be considering how to please God in all that we do, and we should be thoughtful of others and their true needs, especially of salvation.

Sound Judgment (vv. 3-8)

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

What is striking me about this passage of scripture today is this running theme of self-sacrifice, humility, and selflessness. We can become so self-focused in this life that we lose sight of God, and what he requires and desires of us, and we can lose sight of others and their needs, too. So, we need to refocus our attention and affections on our Lord, to hear from him, and to do what he says, and we need to keep our eyes and ears open to see the needs of others all around us, and to help meet those needs as God leads and directs us in what he would have us do. We can become so inward focused, in other words, to where we miss out on opportunities to share the love, grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus with others who need him.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we all form one body, which is the body of Christ, his church. We, the people of God, are his church, regardless of location or the distance between us. And, we are to use the gifts and ministries God has given to us, as he directs, within the body of Christ, for the mutual encouragement, strengthening, and maturing of one another in Christ. Yet, God has not gifted us all in the same way, nor has he given us all the same assignments within his body (see also 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). We are all different, uniquely designed and gifted by God to be used of God in ways which he had planned for us even before the creation of the world.

So, not one of us should be jealous of another or think we are better than others because of our gifts or assignments, for everything comes from God, not us. So, we should do all that we do for the glory of God and for the edification of the body of Christ, without regard to our own giftedness.

Without Hypocrisy (vv. 9-13)

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

In what ways can we be hypocritical in our expressions of love for God and for others? One way is by lip service only, i.e. by saying we love God or we love others, but then by our actions speaking just the opposite, i.e. by being hateful instead. Another way is to stay focused on ourselves and on our own needs while ignoring the needs of others, yet while vocalizing that we love them. How are they going to know that we love them if we don’t show it? Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with action. If all we do is talk about ourselves, or think about ourselves and our needs, but we don’t inquire as to what others are going through, and if we don’t show genuine interest in their lives, how will they know that we love them?

Yet, at the same time, we need to remain focused on our Lord, and on his Word, and never compromise our faith or join in with the sinful pleasures of this world in order to “make nice” with the world. It is not loving others with God’s love if we compromise our faith and convictions in order to have others like us or think we are being loving. Jesus was loving, but he spoke the truth in love, and he told people what they truly needed, even if they didn’t respond with belief. So, we should never feel that selfless needs to be godless so that humans will think we are being selfless and not selfish. In other words, we should continue to hate what God hates and to love what he loves, and to follow Jesus’ example for how to love others with God’s love.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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