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Chapter 41 - Service

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: - Ephesians 4:11-12

The radical Christian may not find Christian leaders who can provide the instruction that will equip him to minister to others. As a result, he may have to seek out such instruction on his own through books and videos or identifying those who are more advanced spiritually than he is and asking them to help him draw nearer the Lord. However, throughout the process, the radical Christian is advised to remember that it is with the goal of ministering to others that he receives instruction.

"He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose" - Jim Elliot

A man who had been involved in church youth work was once asked he if had observed typical worldliness in the youth with whom he had worked. He said that he had seen it, however, there were a few exceptions. When asked what the exceptions were, his response was that there were a few youth who had a concern for others.

Christian maturity is marked by love (selflessness). When we are less driven by those things that serve self, we are more content, fulfilled, and completed. As a result, we are more available to consider the needs of others.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. - Philippians 2:4

Those who do not know Christ can get rather frantic as they try to accumulate things for themselves (riches, experiences, notoriety, admiration, etc.). Yet, all come to the grave. The Christian has the certainty that all that he has he will lay down only to inherit true riches and eternal life.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. - 1 Corinthians 2:9

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. - Matthew 6:19-21

As a Christian matures and seeks opportunity to minister to other Christians, he should be aware that there are others desiring to control and direct his desire to their purposes. For example, church administrators are always on the prowl for those they can enlist to serve the mechanical system of their church machine. Many organizations seek to obtain financial support from those who have a surplus (and sometimes from those who do not). Often Christians are browbeaten to evangelize, almost like with the recruitment zeal of a cult.

The radical Christian can see that he has to seek the Lordís leading in service to others. This requires active seeking (prayer) as well as growing discernment. As a Christian matures and is less concerned about self, he has the opportunity to observe and engage with others. If he inventories those things that the Lord has already provided him, he might consider how that could be used in service to other Christians.

A young person may not have accumulated much to share with others, but often has the strength of youth. He might consider an elderly widow and ask if she needs help raking the leaves from her property in the fall. An older woman (whose only resource was time) might ask a harried young mother if she could use someone to watch her children so she could get some other chores done.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2

Wherefore comfort one another with these words. - 1 Thessalonians 4:18

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. - Hebrews 3:13

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: - Hebrews 10:24

No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. - 1 John 4:12

Even if a Christian has no money, transportation, or relational connections through which he could minister to others, he should be aware that his prayers on the behalf of others have great value before God.

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. - 1 Peter 3:12

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. - James 5:16

Some would persuade the Christian to allocate his resources (time and money) to noble sounding causes such as feeding the poor. Some even are persuaded that they can contribute to ending poverty.

For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. - Mark 14:7

However, Christians have a priority to serve other Christians first

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. - Galatians 6:10

When considering what, when, how, where, and who to serve, it can seem puzzling. This shows how much we need to have the Lordís leading in our lives. Consider the waste of resources if we undertake something in our own strength without the Lordís direction and provision.

A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. - Psalm 127:1

It can seem easier to have someone else direct us and determine what and how to serve the Lord. However, we should remember that it is we who will be judged for how we used what the Lord provided.

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. - 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. - 1 Corinthians 3:8

It is possible that we lose reward because we listened to someone we shouldnít have.

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, - Colossians 2:18

There are limitations as to what can be done for others. Even Jesus lamented that those in Jerusalem were disinterested in what he had to offer.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! - Luke 13:34

One of the most difficult things to consider is that others may have no interest in what you offer. Further, some may be harmed by good intentions. If a Christian won the lottery and wanted to help other Christians with gifts of money, he would soon discover how ungrateful people are and how people are often corrupted by the deceitfulness of riches.

Real service to others has their edification (being built up) as a goal. We have a tendency to view difficulty and hardship as evil and see ease and comfort as a solution. Our effective ministry to others has to be with a view to that which helps them grow in Christ.

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. - Romans 14:17-19

As the radical Christian matures in love, he begins to feel compassion for the needs of others. It is this extension of love between Christians that is supposed to demonstrate to the world what is unique about Christianity.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. - John 17:22-23

To grow in Christ-likeness is to grow in love. We can see that this love is alive (because it dwells), that it is from God, and that it is supposed to be passed on.

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? - 1 John 3:17



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