Joy in Serving Jesus

“ If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Col. 3:1-4).

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21).

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7).

            You may know from my previous writings that I seldom darken the door of a church these days for various reasons.  However, I was world weary and decided to attend a missionary conference at church a few years ago, hoping to be refreshed by those giving out the plain Gospel.  I went to the men’s prayer breakfast Saturday morning.  The featured missionary gave a devotional from Col. 3:1-4 about putting our affections on things above, not on this earth.  It’s one of my favorite passages.  He exuded a genuine joy which I’ve never seen in a missionary, and I’ve met a lot of them over the years.  It wasn’t glibness or mere enthusiasm.

            This man was then in his mid fifties, so he was no naïve youngster.  He and his wife have 7 grown kids.  At that time they’d been in Taiwan 18 years and had planted 3 churches pastored by nationals.  They were going back the following May to plant another.  He wrote tracts and training material for Taiwanese pastors.  He didn’t strike me as the intellectual type, but was apparently doing a good work.

            As for his testimony, he was raised in the Ozarks to be a good moral person; however, both his family and his wife’s family wanted nothing to do with Christ or churches, and he and she were both outcasts when they came to Christ.  I believe he said his mother knows the Lord now though.  I got the feeling he knew something about the grace of God in his own life.  I don’t see how else he could be motivated to enjoy serving the Lord.  Grace isn’t guilt-ridden.

            He said he was well aware of the problems in local churches and in politics of governments, but wasn’t discouraged.  He noted how we’re passing through this world and get too easily attached to it.  He cited the instructive example of a missionary who faced the ordeal of being kicked out of Burma, but who later smuggled in bibles and literature, saying those people need the Lord.  He also said if a person can’t take rejection, he shouldn’t be a missionary.  I never thought I’d hear such a thing at a missionary conference.

            I can relate to this man’s joy in serving the Lord.  When I was younger and first entering my career in Christian radio, I thoroughly loved what I was doing.  Later I got great fulfillment from home schooling my children. 

            In contrast, the young missionary who preached at the conference that evening gave a message loaded with duty and guilt as motivation for missions.  As I told my wife and teenage kids on the way home that, if you can’t do what you do for the Lord with joy and love, and if you’re not empowered by the Holy Spirit, you’re bound to fail, no matter how many bible verses you beat yourself up with.

            An old hymn says there’s joy in serving Jesus, but I’ve seen far too many for whom those are just words on a page.  Are your affections and joy set on Christ?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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