As believers, our default is to serve and we do so according to the Lord’s way and example. We are extorted to love (and serve) one another – the brethren; John 13:34-35, but also those who are not of the faith and known as our neighbor; Matt 22:36-40.
As priests of God, 1 Pet 2:9, we carry His flame and must make sure all we do is out of this burning ember. We have a grave picture of how the Lord views any offering that is presented with a fire that is not His in the son’s of Aaron; Lev 10:1-3. They took it upon themselves and presumed that it was good before the Lord and paid for this mistake by their very lives.
When we serve out of our (flesh) nature, and according to our natural reasoning, we are at risk for missing the Lord’s will altogether and in fact cannot please the Lord at all; Rom 8:8. We get an idea of how this looks in the lives of Martha and her sister Mary. Martha is a picture of one who serves the Lord in the flesh and Mary through the Spirit.
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-41.
The work of God will be revealed in power in us when we serve Him through His Spirit, and it is up to us to guard this diligently.
Determining our motive is a must. Are we doing out of guilt or fear? Are we doing to gain things such as approval, good standing, or to get for ourselves some emotional payoff? Sometimes, we are acting out of a heart of sympathy, trying to stop something terrible from happening. While this looks noble, it actually can be counter to what the Lord wants and we stand in His way! We learn how stunning this can be in the rebuke Jesus gave to Peter, and even saying, ‘Get behind Me Satan!’ The clue is in what He says next, ‘You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matt 16:23.
How many things do we do in this same spirit? I believe that our western churches are driven primarily in being mindful of the things of men over the things of God.
We can do great and noteworthy work in the Lord’s name and be as far away from Him if we don’t keep in check our hearts and motives.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Col 3:17
When it is the flame of God that ignites us, we can endure any persecution – and even rejoice in it. We can exercise patience in the wake of all kinds of insult and evil hurled our way as the Lord is our joy and strength to persevere. To love the Lord with ALL our heart, mind, soul, and strength benefits us in that as we keep ourselves from loving any other above Him – we will serve our neighbor in His power, and might and when we have it in the right order, we are like how Isaiah describes:
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. Is 40:30-31