“Serve the Lord with gladness!” - Psalm 100:2
This Psalm is a Psalm of Thanksgiving in which the Psalmist summons all the earth, particularly the people of God, to praise and give thanks to God for His redemptive love and faithfulness. I want to briefly meditate on verse 2. We will note What we are called to do, next time, we will focus on who we are to do it for, and how we are to execute this.
I asked one of my children to do something the other day. Their response was a hearty: “ah mannnn...” I thought, “Wow, how often do I respond that way when I’m asked to do something?” (Too often).
One way to assess your conformity to Christ is to ask yourself how you respond when presented with an opportunity to serve. The psalmist here calls the people of God to give Him thanks and praise for several reasons, and includes the call to serve as part of that response of worship.
As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, your worship must not be confined to merely singing, or sitting under the preaching of the Word of God. As essential as those components are, serving is also a significant part of worship and one of the ways we tangibly express our worship to God and faith in Him. Jesus models this for us in every way as he said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
On the basis of the above, there are a few questions to consider:
-Are your serving?
-How do you serve the Lord?
-How do you tangibly express that toward other believers in the church (Gal. 6:10)?
-Are you more of a consumer or a contributor in your local church?
-Has it ever occurred to you that not serving may actually be hindering your spiritual growth?
-Have you considered that the call to serve is a command not a suggestion, such that failure to serve can be a sin of omission (cf. James 4:17 & Prov. 3:27)?
-Are you “too busy?”
-It is possible that you are not being a good steward of the time you have. How can you “redeem the time” and reprioritize your daily routine so that God’s purposes become central and integrated into every facet of your life?
-Do you take initiative in serving or do you sit back and wait to be asked or told what to do?
This next set of questions applies to those who serve A LOT and may prompt the reflection of WHO are you serving (which we will cover in the next blog post):
On the flip-side, maybe all you do is serve...and serve...and serve.
-Have you allowed your service to take you away from sitting under the teaching of the word of God AND/OR walking in fellowship with other believers? (Think Mary & Martha). Remember, God is not a slave-driver. He actually invites and commands His people to rest from their work.
-Do you struggle to say “no” to service opportunities because you think: “if I don’t do it, who will?” This often leads to frustration, stress, and burn-out. It’s worth remembering whose church it is and who promised to build it. Hint: Not yours and not you.
-Do you find serving actually provides a good “reason” for you NOT to engage in fellowship, and thereby use it as a good “reason” to get out of edifying conversations with others?
-Do you get mad, angry, frustrated, or upset when people don’t do things the “right way” (I.e. your way). Life in the body is actually meant to draw these responses out, so that God can refine and conform you to be more like Christ in ALL things. Once you reckon with your own sin and struggles, you’ll be in a much better place to assess the situation clearly and actually come alongside and help. It’s not an easy process, but it is a Biblical one.
-Do you withdraw from participating in projects when people don’t do it the way you think they should?
-Do you find yourself criticizing the work of others constantly as opposed to encouraging and constructively helping it?
If you answered ”yes” to the second set of questions, it’s understandable and happens to many who serve. It’s one of the ways sin and satanic schemes work their way into the church, disrupt unity, and steal joy from those engaged in kingdom work. It’s also a sign that you may have lost sight of who you serve and why you serve, which is really easy to do.
Spend sometime meditating on the rest of the Psalm and possibly acknowledge sinful thoughts, attitudes, and motives that may have snuck into your heart in regards to your service (or lack thereof). Rejoice that in Christ all of our sins have been paid for, and thank God that He isn’t done with you.
Right now, He is using this as an occasion to conform you into the image of Christ: a servant, which is what He promised to do, and what we pray for regularly.
When we serve, eventually we are brought to the end of our wisdom and our strength and must rely on His. As Pastor John Piper has said: “The gospel is not a help-wanted ad. It is a help-available ad.” And serving is one of the ways that God invites us to see that in all of our service, He’s the one serving us.
We’ll cover the who and how in the next post.