Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

What do you do when you hear people discussing what it takes to get into heaven where one person says they’ve been a good and moral person and the other says they are saved by faith in Jesus Christ? Of course this further begs the question, “What do I need to do to hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ when I arrive in heaven?”

In Jesus’ parable of the talents, the Lord tells of two faithful servants who used what they had been given to increase the master’s wealth. When the master returned from a long absence, he rewarded his two faithful servants and said to each of them, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Every Christian longs to hear those words from Jesus’ lips someday in heaven.

We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), but we are saved “to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus spoke of laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and His parable of the talents hints at various rewards for those who faithfully serve Him in this world.

To hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” from Jesus, first make sure you are saved. The unbelieving will never hear those words, for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). And recognize that Jesus is not only your Savior; He is also your Lord (see Luke 6:46). “Serve the LORD with gladness!” (Psalm 100:2, ESV).

Here are some ideas on ways you can serve the Lord:

1. Share the gospel. The Lord Jesus desires us to make disciples, teaching others of the nature and character of God and sharing the meaning of His death and resurrection (Matthew 28:18–20).

2. Help the disadvantaged. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31, the rich man is condemned because he doesn’t help Lazarus and because he trusts in his wealth too much. Don’t put self-gratification before the needs of others. First John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

3. Forgive others of their offenses. This isn’t the same as reconciliation or trust, but it means you renounce vengeance. The Lord Jesus modeled forgiveness: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to [the Father] who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

4. View your position of authority as an opportunity to help the people under you, and view your position of subservience as an opportunity to submit to your authority, just as Jesus submitted to the Father’s authority. Either way, you can be Christlike, because Jesus was both master and servant to different people. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

5. Seek to know the character of God better through church fellowship, listening to sermons, studying the Bible, praying, and chronicling how He seems to have been involved in your life.

6. Recognize that every advantageous position you’re in is because of God, the Source of every blessing: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17).

7. Be willing to be unpopular, displaying rare courage like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable (Luke 10:30–37). Do what the Bible says is right, always. “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, ESV).

8. In introspective moral judgment (evaluating your own character), look at the character of Jesus as a measure rather than rationalize your questionable actions and attitudes. Show humility.

It all comes down to this: love God more than anything, and love others sincerely (Mark 12:30–31). At the judgment seat of Christ, those who are faithful to the Lord who saved them will hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” No true servant of the Lord could ask for more.

(article reprint | Got Questions.com)


Regarding Others More Important Than Yourselves

Bible ref: Philippians 2:3-8

I would like to offer some challenges for you this week. They cover Monday through Friday only, but if you want to carry on through the weekend then that’s great. No matter how long you do this you will find yourselves blessed. So, without further ado, here are your challenges.

Challenge #1: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.

Challenge #2: With humility regard one another as more important than yourselves.

Challenge #3: Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others.

Challenge #4: Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.

For some, these challenges might seem impossible but with the help of the Holy Spirit you can do this. The challenges presented here are to help us recognize that in today’s society it’s not all about “me”. If it is your hearts desire to be humble and serve like Jesus then complete the challenges listed above.

A side note: Challenges #2 and #3 could get in the way of your success in service to others but don’t let that happen. If you put others first, I guarantee you will be blessed in ways you never thought could happen. As Proverbs 3:5-6 say, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

You will be blessed and so will others.

Our Goal In Pleasing Christ

Knowing that we serve Christ will …

Affect the quality of our work. Although we may be tempted to give an employer half-hearted service and mediocre effort, none of us would do that to Christ. If we keep Him foremost in our thoughts, we will become His faithful ambassadors by doing our best for those we serve.

Guard our attitude. Regardless of the way others treat us or the demands they make of us, working “heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23) melts away bitterness and purifies our motives. Then our goal will be to please Christ in all we do.

Prevent discouragement. If we’re seeking approval for our efforts, we’re going to be consistently disappointed when it doesn’t come. But since the Lord never overlooks our service, we can persevere, knowing He’s the one who will someday reward us.

If we ask God to empower our efforts and watch over our attitude, grumbling will turn to joy, and our service will be pleasing to Him.


Misplaced Priorities and a Bankrupt Soul

There is a penalty for our misplaced priorities. The Lord’s parable of the wealthy foolish man who passed away with no opportunity to enjoy his goods reveals he died with a bankrupt soul.

Serving the Lord and His kingdom is the key to setting correct goals. When believers make service for God a main concern, they will use a lens of righteousness to order their priorities. The question we ought to be asking is not “What shall I do?” but rather “Lord, what would You have me do?” The answer—which should be prayerfully sought and biblically evaluated—dictates which things we must put first in order to achieve God’s purpose for us.

I don’t know about you but spending eternity in heaven with God almighty is more important to me than enjoying the fleeting pleasures in this life. What will be your priority?


Believer Or Follower?

When it comes to your relationship with the Lord are you a believer or a follower? Some might ask what’s the difference between the two? Aren’t they basically the same? Well, yes and no.

A believer in Jesus Christ is one who has accepted Him as their Lord and savior, sought forgiveness of their sins, attends church and tries to live a Christian lifestyle. Some might ask, “Isn’t a follower of Jesus the same?” Let me explain the difference.

The difference in the two is separated by one’s actions and not just mental agreement or belief that Jesus is Lord. As I said above, the believer attends church and tries to live a Christian lifestyle. But that’s as far as it goes for them. The follower, however, does all of those things but also commits to action in following the Lord. They serve at church, give of their time to others, give money above and beyond their monthly tithe offering. In other words they are “doers of the word and not hearers only.” (James 1:22-25)

In today’s culture, with our busy schedules, parental responsibilities and attending church it is easy to get caught up in the world’s view of what it means to be a Christian. Our mindset is more on getting things done and getting more from this worldly kingdom than giving for heaven above. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with having a nice car or home or even a large income but it’s what you do with those things that count in heaven.

In the end God looks at the heart of man and what he deems valuable. Don’t be one who stores up treasures on earth where moth and rust decay, but, store up your treasures in heaven and there your heart will be also.

If you are truly following Jesus then you are following your heart and laying up your treasures in heaven where it really counts. Your service, love, and action to others will be accounted for on judgment day and your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.


The Believer’s Highest Honor

What’s the highest honor you’ve ever received? Good grades in school? A Blue Ribbon for the best pie at the county fair? Graduating at the top of your class? If you think about it, all these honors are about you and me. As believers in the Almighty God we know the top honor should always go to God and none other.

The Word of God describes believers, that’s us, as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), soldiers (2 Tim. 2:3), and saints (Eph. 2:19) but, the highest honor we can receive is to be called servants of the Most High God. From the world’s perspective, those who die to self in order to follow the Lord may stand in last place—in reality, however, they are first in His kingdom. (See Matt. 20:16.)

Sadly, today service to God is often equated solely with what goes on at church. The preacher serves. The choir serves. The worker in the soup kitchen serves. But the guy pushing papers and the woman cleaning up others’ messes tend to be seen as simply doing their jobs. From the Father’s vantage point, though, work well done brings as much glory to His name as a song lifted in praise. (See Col. 3:23-24.) So take heart—if you’re doing quality work and striving to make an impact on those around you, then you are serving God.

Service to the Lord is not about what we do, but rather how well we do all that the Lord has given us to accomplish (1 Peter 4:10). A good servant shares both Jesus Christ’s attitude of humility and His motivation to reach people with the love of God.


Christianity Is Not A Wellness Practice

[This is a great article and well worth the read. Very thought provoking. It is a reblog of a post at Samaritan’s Song blog.]

Wellness” is the big trend these days. And if you don’t know what wellness is, I can show you with a simple equation: it’s New Age thought + capitalism + our culture’s soul-deep hunger for wholeness and satisfaction.  It’s crystals and vitamin supplements and practices like “grounding” (walking barefoot!) and monitoring your aura.  It’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop brand, specializing in pseudo-scientific (read: quack) cures for all sorts of ailments imagined and unimagined.  It’s longevity diets and strange ingredients and promises of contentment, well-being, personal growth, and deep spiritual satisfaction.

If any of that sounds familiar to you from decades ago…well, it’s the old made new again.  “Wellness” is a modern re-purposing of practices and ideologies that have been around for a very long time, many of which have permeated even Christian culture in surprising ways.  (For a history of this with an emphasis on how it influences Christianity, check out L.L. Martin’s book Positively Powerless).  The difference between then and now is that wellness has become more of an economic juggernaut than ever before: hundreds of “gurus” and “thought leaders” are offering products and philosophies and making an obscene amount of money doing it.

The problem is that lately I’ve found Christianity and the wellness movement intersecting in ways I don’t expect.  I ran across an article the other day that was advocating daily Bible study as a “path to self-fullness and embracing one’s healing energy.”  And in my browsing through Pinterest recently I discovered a Pin that encouraged believers to read the Bible as a series of “affirmations meant to celebrate the divine self.”  I’ve glimpsed prayer rooms (“war rooms”) decked out like spa retreats (and, indeed, I’ve written about those before) and meant to provide a “shelter” from the harrowing day-to-day.  Art and coloring Bibles encourage believers to express themselves in marker, pencil, and crayon all over the Word with pictures and words that occasionally obscure the actual text: the Bible as therapeutic coloring book.

Now, certainly not all of these things are negative in specific contexts.  I like to pray in pretty rooms full of my favorite things.  And I’ve written in my Bible before and I’ve even seen examples of Bible “doodling”/coloring helping people to understand and emphasize the text. But in other contexts, these practices can at times resemble what you see in the wellness movement, and here is why:

The “wellness” movement places a fundamental emphasis on self and the fulfillment of the self through “holistic” and “spiritual” means.

In other words, wellness is about you.  Everything that happens is to benefit you.  Every practice, every crystal, every coloring book, every affirmation, every supplement: they all exist because you are special and sacred and you deserve everything wonderful.  You are your own god/goddess.  The result is that at least theoretically, in the wellness movement, everything is a means to an end: the betterment and deification of you.

Any time we take a Christian spiritual practice and make it solely about our own benefit – any time we use a Christian practice to deify ourselves as sacred and holy – we’ve dipped into the wellness pool.  More simply put: any time we use God as a means to our own end, any time we make God a “tool” that serves the same purpose as a crystal or a supplement or a coloring book – we’ve lost the plot.

Because Christianity is not about self.  It is actually a faith about setting yourself aside in order to love others because you’ve come to understand the love of Christ.  As Christians we believe that Jesus is special and sacred and the embodiment of love, and so we set ourselves aside to serve Him.  In Christianity, everything we do is a means to an end, and that end is Christ – not the self.  Yes, we are the ultimate beneficiaries of a relationship with God – and, in the end, our relationship with Him is what offers the fulfillment, joy, and replenishment that the wellness movement purports to offer.  But our satisfaction, our desires, and the glorification of our selves is not the end goal.  It is not the highest good nor the inviolable sacred.  It can’t be, or God isn’t God.

So if coloring on a page of the Bible is getting you closer to God, you color.  If that spa-bedecked prayer room is where your relationship is growing and evolving with Christ, get on in there.  Meditations and affirmations from the Bible can be really useful if they keep you focused on living in Christ.  But if you’re using Christianity in the same way that you’d use yoga or herbal tea or reading your aura – if you are making it a means to the end of glorifying and fulfilling yourself – then you’re changing the fundamental nature of what the Gospel is about.

In his books, Timothy Keller frequently reminds readers that a great deal of sin and separation from God stems from our desire to control God – to make God something that is ours, that we use, that we control in order to please ourselves.  The problem, Keller points out, is that a relationship with God is antithetical to that way of thinking: the triune and dynamic God has invited believers to join into His great dance of love on His terms.  He is not there to submit to us; we are there to submit to Him.  The danger of the wellness movement is that it can encourage us, if we are not careful, to do exactly the opposite: to embrace God not as a deity, but as a neat and helpful technique to make our lives better.  To deify ourselves rather than Christ.

So feel free to go have some herbal tea or spend some time in your candle-lit “quiet space.”  I might even join you.  But in the process, don’t get suckered into the great lie of the wellness movement: that with enough time and energy (and boatloads of money), you can save yourself.

Christianity is not a wellness practice.  It was never meant to be.