Why do you serve God, if you serve him at all?
Many times I've found myself saying that I want to serve Jesus by bringing others to him. I want to serve him in my ministry career. But then I realize that since my regular job is ministry, and I get paid for it, I wonder if I would "serve" God as much if I had a non-ministry job like most people.
In the last few weeks I've been working on developing new financial support for our ministry. In many of my meetings I hear from the people I am meeting with about how they are serving Christ in addition to working a full time job. I look at them and see faithful people making significant sacrifices of time, energy, and money to further God's kingdom.
And they don't get paid for it.
In the book of Malachi, God says through the prophet, "You have said, 'It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge?'" When I was in Mongolia I could see this attitude in some people. I watched as some believers served God for the power or prestige it could bring them with other people. Some people worked to expand their ministries and it would give them the same result. Then I wonder if I did the same.
Recently, I've begun to take a new attitude in my prayers. "Lord," I ask, "Let me be forgotten. Let anything I did of value be attributable only to you, but let me be forgotten. I must decrease, but you must increase."
What is the profit in serving God? That's the wrong question because it places the value of serving Jesus squarely in the "what do I get out of it" column. Instead, I want to have a heart that desires to serve God simply out of the truth of who he is and what he commands. Of course, I know that there is eternal profit in serving Jesus. God gives that to us and his promise doesn't fade away. But that should never be our motive for serving God.
When God made his covenant with Abraham, to give him offspring and a nation of promise, Abraham asked God, "What will you give me?" (Genesis 15:2). Just before that God said to Abraham, "I am your great an exceeding reward" (Genesis 15:1). At first, Abraham didn't get it. Like most people of his day, having sons was considered prestigious. That is still true in many cultures today. Then there are people like us, Americans. We look at the material things of life and success, or a long retirement as our reward. But God's perspective is different. He is our great reward. He is our reward, a person, not a thing, not an accumulation of things or status or entertainments. Jesus is our great and exceeding reward.
Last year I was awarded by the president of Mongolia with the Medal of Friendship for my work in helping establish free media in Mongolia. I have to admit, it's kind of cool. It's nice to be recognized. But in the eternal scheme of things what does it really get me? Am I seeking earthly reward for heavenly gains?