How do you feel about attending church and serving God? Do you consider them to be a delight or a drudgery? Is there an excitement you feel about being in church and helping the work of the church? On the other hand, perhaps you are regular in church attendance and involved in church activities, but your participation can only be described as “going-through-the motions”.
Behind all these issues is the issue of the heart. Where is your heart? Our Saviour said, “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:35-36). This call to discipleship by our Saviour challenges us as to whether we want to live our lives for ourselves and the world, or for the LORD and His kingdom. To put it another way: is my heart for God or for myself? When our heart is for the LORD, then we find excitement and fulfilment in that which belongs to Him. That is why the statement quoted by our LORD is so important. When we lose our life for Him and His gospel, then we get excited about everything that belongs to Him. This is part of what it means to save our lives.
Loving church The church is God’s special place on this earth. The LORD Jesus has set Himself to build His church (see Matt. 16:18). He has not specifically set Himself to build any other institution. When our heart is given over to the LORD, then we will be interested in the things He is interested in. Ultimately, it is a heart issue. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it are the words of Proverbs 4:23. When we are with the LORD we will have hearts which delight in Him and desire to serve Him.
When this is the case, we will know something of the experience of the Psalmist who said I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1). Is church dull and boring because you still want to keep your heart for yourself rather than give it to the LORD? Remember this: where your heart is determines what your life is.
There are two implications here to ponder upon:
- Have we faced up to the call of our LORD to lose our lives for His sake? If we have, we should expect church to be exciting.
- If we feel we are willing disciples of our LORD, putting Him first, and yet church is still uninspiring, then we have to consider whether we are in the right church.
Loving to serve God What about our service for the LORD? There is a sense that if we do not want to serve the LORD, then we should not serve the LORD. True service though, is the natural response of those who realise some measure of the truth of You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies (1 Cor. 6:19a-20). If we know nothing of being devoted to the LORD in serving Him, then is it because we know nothing of His devotion towards us? After all, we have been bought to be His by the shedding of His precious blood.
In Exodus 35:21 we read, concerning the providing for the tabernacle, that everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. It is stated earlier (see Ex 35:5) that the LORD only wanted offerings from those who offered willingly. If you complain about serving God, then it is probably best for you not to serve God!
True service for God flows first from our giving ourselves to the LORD. In 2 Chronicles 29:31 we read: then Hezekiah said, “You have now dedicated yourselves to the LORD. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the temple of the LORD.” So the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings. When the heart is right, then our service will be right.
On the other hand, the LORD shows in Malachi 1:6-14 how He hates it when His people are serving Him casually. Regarding the temple service of the priests, He effectively says “I want the whole thing closed down”; He hates half-hearted service so much. We also have the word in Jeremiah 48:10; A curse on him who is lax in doing the LORD’s work! How sobering these words are. Let us heed then the call from Paul to Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58b).
Let us be careful then, to examine our attitudes in respect of that which belongs to the LORD. Perhaps many of us need the LORD to do some open-heart surgery on us. If we find attending church and serving the LORD a miserable drudgery, and we would rather be doing something else, then we need to go under his knife for a detailed surgical examination of our hearts. Also remember failure to attend this appointment could lead you to a totally wasted life. Even worse, though, your half-heartedness may mean a desperate eternity because you show that you have never known the LORD. And that most certainly is serious.
Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of April 2012