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Hear O Servants of God

In His discourse with the disciples, Jesus said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). Many make a mistake in assuming that this question chiefly applies to unbelievers who run after the earthly things. But coming to the context, we learn that Jesus was actually speaking to His followers, to His disciples, to His future apostles, teaching them the cost of true discipleship.

"What does it profit to us if we gain everything in the world, yet forfeit our own soul?" This serious exhortation applies to us, the leaders representing God, as to anyone else. As we live in this sinful world serving the Lord, are we not surrounded by numerous temptations to serve God with a worldly attitude? Is it not possible to do the Lord's work with selfish ambitions, eventually gaining the world but forfeiting our soul?

Few days back I met a brother in the Lord who wrote a song, in which one verse goes like this, "You who say about leaving the world to serve Christ, are you now trying to gain the world in the Lord's service?"

Dying to Self
Going to the preceding verse, Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matt. 16:24).

We may love to do ministry and be busy in Christ's service, love to preach and teach and minister to the people, but if we are not serious in our private, inner life - denying our self and taking up our cross - everything we do is in vain for our eternal profit. Just think, how can we bring the lost under the lordship of Christ Jesus without we fulfilling the cost of discipleship which He laid down before us? How can we lead people to Christ without we walking with Him? How can we serve Christ without following Him?

Here is a perilous fact in doing God's ministry: It is terribly possible to get involved in ministerial activities while loving self and denying the cross. Like the church in Ephesus, we may labor, suffer and have a sound doctrine and yet forsake our first love (Rev. 2:2-4). Like the church in Sardis, we may have a reputation of being alive, and yet be dead inside (3:1). Like the church in Laodicea who were neither cold nor hot, we may be lukewarm leaders and yet lead a lifeless ministry (3:25-16).

Hence we need to digest this truth deeply in our soul – in our willingness to follow and to serve our Lord Jesus Christ, what matters most is our inner crucified life and sanctity in Him.

I see how easy it is for us, the leaders, to get involved in outward ministerial activities and neglect to practice private Bible-meditation, obedience to God's commandments, devoted prayer life, self-examination in the light of the Holy Spirit, holy living, brotherly love, humble walk with God and exemplary life in family and society. How often we walk outwardly with a garment of doing a grand ministry while being inwardly naked and void!

I fear that the worldly people as well as the people of God observe that our practical lives are far different from what we believe and preach.

No wonder the Apostle Paul said, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). Moreover, in our service to people in the name of Christ, we are even exhorted to set ourselves as an example for others in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Tim. 4:12).

Sober Commitment
My dear servants of God, real discipleship implies total commitment, not primarily to the service of God, but to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Our Lord is more concerned of our commitment to follow Him than of our service to Him. He in fact said, "Whoever serves me must follow me" (Jn. 12:26). May we venture not to bypass the path to follow God in our endeavor to serve Him! Remember, our service to Christ will be a fragrant offering to God when we live for Him and serve Him in the beauty of His holiness.

Regretfully, because of our neglect in following what has been exhorted in the Word of God, no doubt, much disgrace has been brought to the Name of God, much trouble has been brought to the body of Christ [i.e. the church], much confusion has been caused to those who are on their way to the Cross, many opportunities have been given to the enemy to accuse and thus, much harm has been done to one’s soul.

Truly, what profit will it be for us if we are not careful to walk our talk and talk our walk? C.H. Spurgeon rightly warned, “To be lost under the shadow of a pulpit is dreadful, but how much more so to perish from the pulpit itself!” Ah, we leaders carry the ark of the LORD!

In his challenging book, The Reformed Pastor, Richard Baxter warns, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine, and lest you lay such stumbling-blocks before the blind, as may be the occasion of their ruin; lest you unsay with your lives, what you say with your tongues; and be the great hinderers of the success of your own labors.”

Passion for Christ and Souls
I believe, in our attempt to do the ministry of Christ, if our prime motive is not to glorify God and to impact lives, we are work-centered busy bodies, not Christ-centered laborers. It is scaring to know that it is awfully possible to do the ministry of Christ without having passionate love for Christ and burning passion for souls. We may be diligent readers, effective communicators of the word, skillful administrators, fiery preachers and yet be dead in our heart for the lost. A minister of God rightly observed, “There is a passion for ministry without having a passion for souls.” 

It is appalling to know that ministry can become a self-serving object than a desirable means to glorify God and to bring the people into His kingdom. 

But some may say, “I am doing everything for God and people.” Well, let’s examines ourselves: Do we long for God's intimacy? Do we fear to sin against Him? Do we have what is called soul-travail? Do we agonize in prayer for the lost? Do we passionately love God and people? Do we cry over the lukewarm condition of the contemporary church? Have we the sense of urgency to share the gospel? If not, there is something terribly wrong with our hearts. I myself am seeing a great lack of these qualities in my heart and seeking God's face for personal revival.

Dear brothers, we cannot expect God to bless our work which arises from a lukewarm heart. Leonard Ravenhill rightly observed, "We have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people." Dead people do not need dead ministers. They need preachers who are ignited with the flame of God's love to raise them from dead spirituality by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let us ask God for such a burning heart of love for Christ and for people and the results of its descension on us are incredible.
Cry, O leaders, cry aloud,
   As we grieve the Spirit of the Lord;
Wake, O servants, stay awake,
   As many are blinded by devil’s fake.

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  1. This is so relevant to today, brother.

    And the whole Bible warns us that just bcos men are extremely zealous to adhere to religion, it doesn't necessarily mean they love God.

    This is where the LORD Jesus clashed with the Pharisees. Their zeal was not in question, it was their heart motive which was questionable - loving the praise of men more than the praise of God.

    It shows us that human nature is the same today, and the same in every religious setting, nothing has changed.

    You hit the nail on the head.

    Death to self is the only sign that a man is truly alive to God, and has been truly converted to Christ.

    Alive to self, and he is dead to God.


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