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Why Do You Serve Jesus?

The apostle Peter, an elder in the church, exhorts fellow-elders to "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly" (1 Peter 5:1, 2). I want to focus here, not just on what elders should do, but on how Peter says they are to do it. Their service to God is as "overseers" (that's the what), but Peter insists the proper attitude behind their service should be "not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly." That's how they should be doing the what! (". . .not because you must, but because you are willing" [niv]). Not an "is-this-something-I-have-to-do" or "how-much-do-I-have-to-do-to-get-by" attitude but rather "this is something I get to do!" Not because it is some kind of high and mighty position of power that glorifies the elder, but because it is a service rendered to Christ for His honor and glory! (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Think about the quality of your own service to God's Son. It is fixed in your heart you are serving the One who loved and served us to the ultimate? As Jesus Himself said in Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." The apostle Paul poured out his life in loving service to Christ and the church and suffered much for it. What moved him? One key is found in his words in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." I fear some Christians see "church work" as something done more for people in the church or for the elders than for the Lord who purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The result can be sloppy and half-hearted service. A much higher and more empowering motive is found in Colossians 3:23-24: "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ." A story from the life of President Franklin Roosevelt helps us examine our motives for serving Christ. Roosevelt's closest adviser during much of his presidency was Harry Hopkins. During World War II, when his influence was at its highest peak, Hopkins held no official position. His closeness to Roosevelt caused many to regard him as a shadowy, sinister figure. As a result he became a major political liability to the President. At one point a political foe asked Roosevelt, "Why do you keep Hopkins so close to you? You surely realize people distrust him and resent his influence." Roosevelt replied, "Someday you may well be sitting where I am now as President of the United States. When you are, you'll be looking at that door over there knowing that practically everybody who walks through it wants something out of you. You'll learn what a lonely job this is, and you'll discover the need for somebody like Harry Hopkins, who asks for nothing except to serve you." Winston Churchill rated Hopkins as one of the half-dozen most powerful men in the world in the 1940's. And the sole source of his power was his willingness to serve (Discipleship Journal, Issue 39 [199871,p 5). How well are you doing what you do to serve Christ? The answer directly depends on why you serve Him. So, why are you serving Jesus?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ