Depending on Jesus

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Service

Christ said: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

Luther’s Advice on Service

Martin Luther (1483–1546) was a German pastor, author, and composer, best known as one of God’s agents in the Protestant Reformation. A craftsman approached Luther, wanting to know how he could serve Christ, his Lord and Savior. Luther asked, “What is your work now?” The man said, “I’m a shoemaker.” To the cobbler’s surprise, Luther replied, “Then make good shoes and sell them at a fair price.” Luther didn’t tell the man to make “Christian shoes,” with fish, crosses, or Bibles on them. He didn’t tell the man to leave his business and enter a monastery, but to honor Jesus in the work he was already doing. Work is the most important sphere of Christian service for most of us.1

Scripture says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters….Show that you can be fully trusted, so that in every way you will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”2 As Christians, we are to serve Jesus faithfully in our homes and jobs. We don’t need to justify that work in terms of “spiritual” value or evangelistic usefulness. But we undertake our callings with new God-glorifying goals, motives, and standards once we become Christ’s followers.

We are looking at some aspects of Christian service and this post builds upon Jesus-like Service.

Christ Upholds Us

God the Father says in Isaiah 42:1-4, “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight….You will not falter or be discouraged.” This is uniquely true of Jesus our Messiah.3 And it also applies secondarily to us. Scripture says, “We are fellow workers in God’s service.”4 We are never divine or equal to the Lord. But our commission comes from Him, the power to serve comes from Him, and the fruit comes from Him. The Bible teaches that in God’s work, the servants who plant the seed and water it must be faithful. But we are just God’s farmhands and only God the Holy Spirit actually causes things to grow and succeed. And we are thrilled to serve Him.

Christian servants are to work as a team, not lone rangers or competitors, but with the common goal of honoring Christ, not ourselves. In Philippians, Paul names Timothy, Epaphroditus, Euodia, and Syntyche as partners in God’s service, spreading the gospel and strengthening and encouraging believers in their faith. Paul names thirty-three people in Romans chapter 16 who serve together to advance Christ’s Kingdom, not their own little agendas.

We praise God that He allows us to honor Him by helping others—teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing compassion and kindness. Proverbs says, “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.”5 As the Lord lets us bless others in the family, workplace, community, and church, then He also upholds us. God is faithful to energize us and work through us, despite our weaknesses.

We Depend on Our Savior

Again, Isaiah 42:1 says: “I uphold my servant, my chosen one in whom I delight. I will put my Spirit on him.” The Hebrew word for uphold means that the Lord fortifies, aids, and sustains us. He bears us up and bolsters us, because apart from Him we can do nothing. On our own, we are insufficient and inadequate for any tasks. But Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” We should not be anxious about failing. Christ supports us when we are slipping and encourages us when our knees are shaky.

The Lord assured the Old Testament Jews that He would be with them in the Exodus and thereafter. Many times in Isaiah, He said that He will empower us.6 Jesus came as Immanuel, “God with us,” to assist us for ordinary and extraordinary acts of service, especially for making disciples.7

Our Sufficiency Comes from the Lord

More than anything else, beloved, we need God to help us do God’s work. We need His empowering as we serve offenders in prison, or teach ESL or youth or elderly folks. We need the Lord’s help as we raise our children for Christ and care for aging, sick, or disabled people. We need His strength to be consistent Christians in front of co-workers and family and to serve as helpers in God’s church or as elders, deacons, and Sunday School teachers. We need the Lord’s upholding to live as His people and do His work and we must never forget that or take Him for granted.

Self-sufficient, self-confident people make bad Christian servants because they trust in their own abilities, gifts, or skills. Or their own system, theology, tradition, or training, and not in the Lord. Paul had the perfect resume, but he asked, “Who is sufficient for these things?”8 Spiritual tasks are too big for us on our own. Opposition from the world, the flesh, and the devil is too strong. And we are all disqualified as sinners. “We are not competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”9 Only the Lord gives us what it takes to do anything. Only He makes us able to do accomplish anything. Our adequacy and qualifications come from Him alone. Christ is El Shaddai, God Almighty, the All-Sufficient Lord, and the God of More Than Enough. Praise Jesus that He is on our side and our help comes from the Maker and Master of heaven and earth!10 It’s not by our force or our strength, but only by God’s Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.11

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are so, so grateful for your never-ceasing work in our lives. You never sleep or slumber. Because of what you’ve already accomplished for us, you are committed to making us as lovely and as loving as you—free of all sin, fully alive, whole and complete forever! Continue your good work in us today and make us more and more like you. Help us to walk with you today and be a blessing to others. Amen.

To be continued. You can read Humble Servants of Jesus

Notes (various translations): 1 Heard in a radio message by Steve Brown.     2 Col 3:23; Titus 2:10.     3 Matt 12:17-21.     4 1 Cor 3:9.     5 Prov 14:23.     6 Isaiah 40:29; 41:14; 44:2; 49:8.     7 Matt 1:23; 28:18-20.     8 2 Cor 2:16.     9 2 Cor 3:5.     10 Psalm 124.     11 Zec 4:6.