What Does It Mean to Serve God?
Articles May 23, 2016
One of the most common questions I hear constantly being asked by Christian believers is “How can I serve God? What do I have to offer?” While the question is laudable and driven by good motives, I have heard replies over the years that are not very biblical. Some of which could lead a person to a self-righteous and legalistic understanding of service. The answer to this question that I believe is best represented in the Bible is this: nothing, yet everything.
However, before I flesh this answer out, I think it is helpful to ask:
Does God Require Our Service?
Hopefully, most of us should be able to say “Not at all“. For we know that God is omnipotence (all-powerful) and omniscience (all-knowing). He doesn’t require any of our services — He doesn’t require anything because He has everything. Psalm 50:8-13 provides a perfect summary of this:
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?”
This truth given in these verses is a sentiment echoed in Paul’s Areopagus address when he states that God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”1)Acts 17:25 However, Psalm 50:8-13 also brings forth a principle that we must remember: it is not so much the actions we do, but rather it is the motive in which carry them out. It is not about all the acts of service we may do as a Christian, whether through charitable deeds, serving in Church, or even through preaching God’s word — but it is about the reason as to why we do these things. God fundamentally needs nothing from us, there’s nothing we can give which is good enough, and no matter how much work you may do — if the right motive is not there — then it is utterly needless.
So What Does God Desire From Us?
Mark Jones in Chapter 2 of his book, Knowing Christ, writes, “Jesus did not come into the world for us; we came into the world for Jesus.” 2)Mark Jones, “Knowing Christ” (Banner of Truth, 2015) p. 9 It is an unfortunate reality that this has been a mostly forgotten truth in much of today’s teaching as the emphasis has fallen on Christ’s redemption work for our sins, without accompanying it with the reminder that we were created for the glory of God. As Jones succinctly puts it: “The glory of his person outweighs even the glory of his work on our behalf,”
So too, when the question was put forward, “What is the chief and highest end of man?” The Westminster divines answered “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.” 3)Westminster Larger Catechism, Q1, which is what God truly desires from us. Whether “we eat or drink, or whatever we do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Then How Do We Serve God?
So going back to the original question, how then do we serve God? Well, in everything. God has granted each of us gifts, whether in serving, teaching, exhortation 4)Romans 12:6-8 or simply in carrying out our everyday work. Whether you are a student, a developer, a manager, a mother, or a husband; fulfilling your earthly obligations is, in fact, service to the Lord.
As I mentioned before, it boils down not to ‘what we do’ so much as to the purpose of ‘why we do’ these things. We should be doing all the things we do because we desire to bring God glory. And this is not something we can do ourselves but rather requires that we draw on strength from Him — as the apostle Peter reminds us: “… whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:11)
We must remember our identity, that we are but bond-servants 5)or Slaves — 1 Corinthians 7:22; Romans 6:18,22 purchased by Christ through His blood sacrifice on the cross. Therefore, we are His and should obey His commandments and teachings with fear and trembling, for the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” 6)Proverbs 9:10 Likewise, we must do this with a sincerity of heart, knowing that everything — everything — we have received has came from the Lord, and our future inheritance is yet to come.7)James 1:17; Colossians 3:24 We have been purchased at a price, and, subsequently, our lives should be for God and Christ in all that we do — serving Him wholeheartedly.8)1 Corinthians 6:20,7:23; Colossians 3:23; Ephesians 6:7 Giving thanks in “all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 9)1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50:14–15)
This article was originally published on Thinking of God, May 22, 2016
|↑2||Mark Jones, “Knowing Christ” (Banner of Truth, 2015) p. 9|
|↑3||Westminster Larger Catechism, Q1|
|↑5||or Slaves — 1 Corinthians 7:22; Romans 6:18,22|
|↑7||James 1:17; Colossians 3:24|
|↑8||1 Corinthians 6:20,7:23; Colossians 3:23; Ephesians 6:7|
|↑9||1 Thessalonians 5:18|
- Faith is the acknowledgment of the entire absence of all goodness in us, and the recognition of the cross as the substitute for all the want on our part. Faith saves, because it owns the complete salvation of another, and not because it contributes anything to that salvation.
- For we are not saved by believing in our own salvation, nor by believing anything whatsoever about ourselves. We are saved by what we believe about the Son of God and His righteousness. The gospel believed saves; not the believing in our own faith.
- The more one separates oneself from the canons of the Christian church, the further one distances oneself from the truth.
- George Leslie Mackay’s farewell address
- One hour spent under the cross, while the soul is thus elevated—thus abased—thus joyful—and thus sorrowful—is better than a thousand of earthly delights.
- The Blessing – Steven Curtis Chapman / 祝福 – 張學友 on
- Myers-Briggs in the Bible on
- In response to @TheBedKeeper comments of Romans 1 – Part II on
- In response to @TheBedKeeper comments of Romans 1 – Part I on
- “I Was Born To Love You” – English Version of “Du bist meine Welt” – From Rudolf By Frank Wildhorn on
- February 2022
- June 2021
- May 2021
- April 2021
- January 2021
- November 2020
- October 2020
- August 2020
- April 2020
- March 2020
- October 2019
- September 2019
- May 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019
- January 2019
- December 2018
- October 2018
- June 2017
- August 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- January 2014
- September 2013
- June 2013
- August 2011
- July 2011
- July 2010
- June 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- May 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008