“But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life.” Deut. 15:16-17 NIV
In these last days, it seems harder than ever to find people who will serve in any capacity—much less ministry–with lasting devotion. In the era of contractual service, we seek an “out clause” in almost everything we say ‘yes’ to. Marriages dissolve once the honeymoon is over; parents abandon their post and leave their children to be raised by the grandparents (an alarming trend); and, few places of employment are left where someone can hope to work clear up until retirement. We all tend to want to milk the best out of something and then discard it once it no longer profitable or fulfilling to us. It makes me think of the Winans song, “Bring Back the Days of Yea and Nay.”
The above Scripture related to someone who had sold himself (or herself) into servant hood. It was an understood law that in the seventh year, that person would be set free from the master, at which time the master awarded a blessing for the service before releasing the servant. Now, I’m aware that sometimes it’s entirely fitting for someone to operate in a season, or an agreed time of service, and then be released from it. I don’t wish to condemn anyone if that has been your chosen path; on the contrary, I respect and am grateful for all these days who sign on for any level of service, even the temporary! Laborers in the field are often hard to come by! What I do want to encourage in this writing, however, is for a special remnant of people to catch the vision of becoming a servant for LIFE. Can we say to the Lord, “I will faithfully tend this patch of Your field, in good times and in bad, in season, out of season, when I’m praised for it and when I’m an unsung hero too. I’ll be so predictable and so constant, You and my leaders won’t have to wonder if I’ll show up to serve…it’ll be a given!”
In terms of commitment in our service to the Lord, Who has so abundantly blessed us all, I would just challenge you today to examine yourself. Do you consider His work and His priorities something that you do ala carte, or is it an integral part of who you are? You may never be called upon to sell completely out and go full-time into ministry, but if He were to ask, would you be willing? What material possessions, hobbies, or other preoccupations would you find hard to push aside in favor of going to a higher level in your commitment to the Lord and His work? Do you ever bow up and feel offense rising within your spirit whenever the pastor or a leader asks you to give up some of your closely guarded leisure time for a worthwhile investment in kingdom work?
Most of us who serve in the ministry do so on a purely volunteer basis; but may we, from this day forward, never look at it as a “favor” that we do for God. Whether the time we invest in ministry is a few minutes a month or several hours each week, may we treat our offering of ourselves in this way as a holy thing unto the Lord. May we not look at our service as something which we can do with less than excellence, or with less faithfulness than someone who is, for instance, a pastor. May we not feel as if we are exempt from accountability just because we do what we do on a volunteer basis. The truth is, all of us are “paid” by the Lord. As you are sowing your service into the work of the Master, He is returning blessing upon your life and upon your family’s lives in ways money can and cannot buy…and He has an excellent memory when it comes to keeping record of your faithfulness!
Those servants released at the end of the period of service walked away with their masters’ blessing—and reward–with no questions asked. God will not withhold blessing from you for going no farther than what you may have originally pledged in His service. And He also knows that there are times in your life when you’ll be able to give less of yourself—He knows babies will be born, times of sickness may temporarily slow your pace, aging parents will need cared for. He is not a tyrant Master! That said, in whatever capacity you choose to give yourself to kingdom work, I pray that, beginning today, you will do so with joy and with excellence, and with a renewed sense of zeal for His purposes.
Just know that you are a set-apart, unique, and treasured member of His household—bearing the mark of His awl, if you should choose to say, “Use me Lord, however You wish, for the rest of my life!” What a testimony of the goodness of our Master, when we declare to Him in the presence of a mixed-up and ambiguous, fickle world, “It’s unthinkable that I should ever be separated from my submission and service to You!’
My prayer today:
Heavenly Father, thank You for bringing us into Your family, both as sons/daughters and as Your servants. I pray today that all of us will be consumed with zeal for Your house; may the plight of the lost and the destitute move us like it moves You. I pray that we will always have a godly, meek attitude with regard to our giving of time, talent, and treasure—and that we will never look at what You ask of us as encroachment upon “our” territory. Father, we love You, and we love being a part of Your family and Your work. Whether our involvement is to serve in ministry in the church, or to be salt and light out in the secular world, we pledge to You that we will let our light so shine among men, and that we will take Your kingdom wherever we are planted. We may not always be asked to serve in the same areas we start out in, and that’s ok–we realize the importance of times and seasons—but we yield ourselves in undying devotion to Your will, knowing that You’ll find ways to make us fruitful in every stage of our lives. You will never ask more of us than we are able to perform; Jesus assured us that His burden is easy and His yoke is light! Bottom line, we make ourselves permanently available to You, to do with as You will. With our ear against the door, willing to be pierced in covenant, we say to You, “Yours, unconditionally.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.