The last few blogs have shared stories about foreign missions, which brings me to the topic of serving God. The call of Christ on our lives is one of action. We respond in faith, trust, and “going into all the world” to preach the gospel in word as well as deed. How exactly this plays out will look different for each of us; but the call to “go” remains, nonetheless.

My daughter and I recently engaged in a lively conversation about whether Christians are truly serving as much as they should, or whether they are more interested in endorsing some religious or political agenda they might term as “Christian.” I pointed out the number of eager volunteers at both of the pregnancy resource centers I have worked at. I knew them well, I trained them, and observed them. Their hearts seemed truly to be reaching out to serve the women and children we worked with.                                                                                                                          

My daughter seemed to think that they are a minority—that most practicing Christians would loudly vote against abortion while reserving judgement for those who might have had one or considered one. I’m not convinced that this is true. But I do appreciate the underlying sentiment: the Gospel, first and foremost, has to do with our hearts. Where they’re at. Who they belong to. How seriously we are committed to Christ. How well we know God and how much we are seeking to know Him better. 

Even secular people can do work that is “good” by the world’s standards. But will it count for anything in the end?  Until our hearts are focused on the things of God and His Son, Jesus, will what we do for good really matter? There are many service-oriented ministries at work in our churches and in our communities; it isn’t that hard to get involved. But only when we wrap towels around our waists and stoop before the needy to wash their dirty feet, remembering that Jesus did that for our dirty feet—only then will our service really count by God’s standards. Only when we serve with all humility and love, having experienced the God of Humility and Love for ourselves. And maybe—probably, we’re missing that mark.

“ Until our hearts are focused on the things of God and His Son, Jesus, will what we do for good really matter? ”


I’m reading two books right now that speak to what I’m talking about. One is Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas which tells the story of William Wilberforce, the British statesman and abolitionist who worked to end African slave trade. While he had been against slavery his whole life, and he had always been charitable in helping the poor, nothing spurred him to such action and determination as that which resulted from “The Great Change,” the term he used to describe his conversion to Christ. From a pompous rich fellow, to a humble servant. It was in the latter form that he accomplished so much. Or perhaps a better way to put it, God accomplished so much through him.

The other book I have had for several years, but only recently picked it up and began reading. Entitled, They Found the Secret, this book tells the story of 20 great Christian men and women who stand out notably for their tremendous Christian service. You are probably familiar with their names: people like John Bunyan, Amy Carmichael, Oswald Chambers, Dwight L. Moody, and Eugenia Price, to name a few. All of these were great servants of Christ whose lives touched and impacted so many others. But with each, it was only after they had experienced a total or sold out commitment to live for Christ, that God’s Spirit actually changed them and used them for His glory in powerful new ways.                                                                                                      

Another of them, J. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, concluded that “it is the abiding life that is fruitful.” Taylor found that a little booklet by Harriet Beecher Stowe, How to Live on Christ, was very helpful in explaining how this comes about. So helpful, that he had a copy sent to every member of his mission team. 

“ Service for Christ is not about performance. It is not a business effort. ”


I visited the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe in Cincinnati this summer. (I didn’t learn about this booklet there though.) She is remembered mainly for writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and as an American abolitionist. But she was also a committed Christian, and in this booklet we understand her reasons for her advocacy against slavery and her remarkable service to her fellow man. An excerpt from the booklet, paints a more vivid picture.

“How does the branch bear fruit? Not by incessant effort for sunshine and air; not by vain struggles for those vivifying influences which give beauty to the blossom and verdure to the leaf: it simply abides in the vine, in silent and undisturbed union, and blossoms and fruit appear as of spontaneous growth. 

“How, then shall a Christian bear fruit? By efforts and struggles to obtain that which is freely given; by meditations on watchfulness, on prayer, on action, on temptation, and on dangers? No: there must be a full concentration of the thought and affections on Christ; a complete surrender of the whole being to Him; a constant looking to Him for grace….Their hope and trust rest solely on what He is willing and able to do for them; on nothing that they suppose themselves able and willing to do for Him.”

We often strive to do, to work, to serve—to perform. Service for Christ is not about performance. It is not a business effort. As Mrs. Stowe so eloquently states, it is rather abiding  in that Life-Giving Vine named Christ. Service and good works flow from a heart resting in Jesus.

John Newton, another great servant of Christ, also a mentor for Wilberforce, wrote the following to another pastor: “The proper act of faith…[is] to cast ourselves on this Savior, without regarding any thing in ourselves, but a consciousness that we are unworthy, helpless sinners, and that we are willing and desirous to be saved in this way of God’s appointment. The best evidences that we believe, are a broken spirit, obedience to the Lord’s precepts, submission to his will and love to his cause and people.”

“ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. ”


Faith works! The Book of James has a lot to say about the work that makes evident our faith: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (1:22). “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (1:27). “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works’….Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (2:18, 20). “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (2:13b).

Serving Christ means to align ourselves to His causes; like slavery, the plight of the unborn, the poor, the sick, the dying, orphans, widows—all injustice that sin has tainted. It is our job to confront the sin, while not condemning the sinners. When Wilberforce first presented a bill to end the slave trade in Parliament, he minced no words regarding the atrocities being committed on the slave ships, but he refused to mention the names of the perpetrators, remembering that he, too, was a great sinner. 

When we are borne to good works by God Himself, and not of our own ambition and prideful endeavors, it is God Himself who is victorious in our doing of them. One of the last letters John Wesley ever wrote, and this on his deathbed, was written to Wilberforce and illustrates this very point:

“Unless the divine power has raised you up to be as Athanasius contra mundum, I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing: Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.”

“ O be not weary of well doing: Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might ”


Serve Jesus in the people around you. In your home. In your neighborhood. At your job. In your friendships. Strangers sitting next to you on the train or plane. Fellow shoppers at the mall. Fellow spectators at a sporting event. Tragedies that cross your path. 

Serving others means seeing their needs and offering them the same love that initially drew you to Jesus. Serving others means showing the kindness of your Savior. It means taking up the cause of the weak and oppressed. It means spreading encouragement and giving the reason for the hope that you have in Christ. It means being selfless, putting others’ needs ahead of your own. It means doing good whenever and wherever you see to do it. It means seeing only Jesus as you work. You are working for Him with full joy that you obtained because of His work on your behalf.

The desire and energy to do and to give at every opportunity will be supplied by the Vine of which you are just a branch. A branch that will blossom and flower while you merely remain attached, abiding daily in the Source, in Jesus. Quietly and in confidence, keeping your eyes on Him.                                                                                              

tags: Truth

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