Why are you serving? Is it for Jesus or for Man?
Have you examined why you serve? If you volunteer at church, in rescue missions or on the streets, have you asked why you are doing it? If you think you know, let me give you simple test to see if you are correct. The results may surprise you.
What if no one notices your service? What if no one responds and no one appreciates what you are doing? Would you still do it? Would you be joyful and content?
The honest answer to this examination can show if a course correction is needed. If the goal is to serve man, notice from people is really important. If the goal is to serve Jesus, man’s applause means very little.
A pastor was hired to take over an existing church. He came in and noticed a beautiful floral arrangement in front of the altar. He was quickly told in important tones that Sister Roberta (not her real name) provides them for every Sunday and it is important that she be thanked each Sunday for them. The previous pastor would stop the service, point to the flowers and make a big deal of the flowers publically. He must not forget to thank her! While the pastor was thankful for the flowers, he was uncomfortable with singling out a person that way in a service meant to glorify Jesus. The requirement to do so publically also seemed off so he chose not to do so. He was appreciative of them, he just did not want to distract from the worship service.
After the first service, Sister Roberta was offended. After the second, the flowers stopped. By the third, she and her family left the church in a huff.
The church appreciated the flowers just as much and thanked her privately. Yet, the lack of public notice caused her to stop serving. Who do you think she was serving while providing the flowers?
Are you content to serve when no one but Jesus notices?
I wasn’t. Honestly, early on in my walk with Jesus, I unitentionally ended up serving for acclaim and I did not realize it. I had good motives originally. It was expected and I wanted to be part of the church. But my competitive desire to achieve and succeed brought in from my career life subtly twisted the pure starting point into something fleshly. I wanted to win at service with everyone noticing. Thankfully, I had my own Sister Roberta moment when I was passed over for my own desired public notice. It made me just as indignant as Sister Roberta. It was then that the Lord asked me the important question:
If you are serving for God, what does it matter if men notice? I was serving for people so it mattered very much what people thought. I am thankful for the Lord’s gentle rebuke.
You may remember the story of how Isaac comes to find a wife in Genesis. Abraham gives a servant a great responsibility. He is to go back to his family and finding a wife for his beloved son, Isaac. It is through this woman God will carry out His promise make his descendants a great people. It is a pretty big deal to be chosen for this job. Abraham makes the servant swear a serious oath that he will do exactly as he is told before he sets out. This servant does a great job. He fulfills his master’s wishes wonderfully and carries out a difficult task finding Rebekah. His trust in God and relationship with God is something that we can learn from thousands of years later. He is an awesome servant of God!
You know what is interesting about this servant? We never learn his name. Abraham doesn’t say it. Rebekah never mentions it and God does not record it in the Bible. God accomplishes a wonderful thing through him and he is anonymous.
To the world, he is defined as a great servant. Is that enough for us?
He is not alone either. The angels of the Lord that show up periodically in the Bible are generally not named. Gabriel and Michael are the exceptions. In Judges, God sends a prophet to give a message to Israel to get them ready for Gideon. This prophet is never named. The Wisemen who travel from a far country and are the first to worship Jesus on earth are never named. They traveled hundreds or thousands of miles and they get no specific press. The shepherds who come and adore Him are not identified either.
They are all anonymous servants of God who do great things in His name.
In each case their works for God are great. They all get to see God working and are important links in His great plan. Yet, no one will ever know exactly who they are this side of eternity. There are no statues built for anonymous servants on earth.
Is doing great works for God without any attention enough for us?
It is possible this will be our lot as well. There are very few famous christians. There are millions who do their Jesus work where no one can see. They are the behind the scene or under the radar. They carry out God’s glorious plan for their lives in a way that does not easily attract attention. They are fulfilling their vital role in God’s awesome plan of redemption in just the way that God intends and see God working but are doing it anonymously.
The world doesn’t notice but God does. He will tell each of them “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The question for each one of as servants of God is whether this is good enough for us. Is heaven’s notice enough to faithfully serve even if no one here sees. If no one ever notices on this earth what we were called to do by God can we still be content because we are serving the One who called us?
God certainly knows each of us intimately. He knows the names of the prophet, the Wisemen and Abraham’s servant. Jesus certainly knows each of the men who traveled those long dusty miles to come and bring Him gifts while still a small boy. He knows of the trust, devotion, and faithfulness of Abraham’s servant and where it fits into the plan of redemption. God knows who He sent to pave the way for Gideon. He knows what each of us is doing in His name every single moment of our earthly existence. Jesus is not indifferent to the attitudes and actions of His servants towards Him.
God sees even the most obscure one of His children and takes note of our faithfulness to Him as we walk through this life. Even if no one else notices, He is there saying “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Why are we serving?
If we are serving to please people or gain public acclaim li