As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, love-empowered living is at the heart of the Christian life. Yet we can only experience it as we learn to embrace the power of the Holy Spirit in our walk with God. Far too many of us try to serve Him solely on the basis of the strength of our wills. But all too often we have failed because we have been unaware of the awesome truth that Paul expressed in Romans 11:36: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” In other words, even our ability to “serve” Him comes from Him. Our zeal for God is really His work in us. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” The very desire in our hearts to love and obey Him was placed there by the Father in the first place.
Legalism teaches us that our commitment to God motivates Him to be committed to us. On the other hand, the grace of God teaches us that His commitment to us is what enables us to be committed to Him. It’s the romance of the Gospel and the Father’s commitment to us that release us from religious pride and legalism.
Wrong Way to Serve
There is a way of “serving” the Father that is somewhat belittling. We have to be careful not to serve Him in a way that implies a deficiency on His part. The Father is not in need of our service or help. His purposes on earth are not sustained by our energy. Acts 17:24-25 says, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of Heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.”
In her book Ministering to the Lord Roxanne Brandt writes:
How wrong the Church has been to teach new Christians that we are saved to serve God. No! We are saved primarily because He wants us for Himself….God isn’t in the business of saving people because He needs servants to win the world for Christ, or because without us He might lose the battle….Yet many Christians believe that they are working for a semi- impotent God who needs their help and expects them to repay Him.
The Bible never once tells us to do anything for God. It tells us that in His love and grace, God chose to involve us in what He was doing. We can work with Him and allow Him to work through us. Think of it!1
The Father gives us the privilege of partnering with Him. He is not glorified by zealous recruits who want to help Him out. He is so completely self-sufficient and so overflowing in power that He glorifies Himself by providing all of His resources to help strengthen us, support us, and provide for all our needs as we seek to follow Him.
Meditate on the Word
This principle is found throughout the Scriptures. As you meditate on the following passages, allow them to grip your heart.
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)
“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He fulfills every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
“If anyone speaks, He should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, He should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)
A Call to Serve
The call to discipleship and love-empowered living isn’t just a call to serve Jesus. It’s a call to be served by Jesus so we may, in turn, follow Him and serve others. We honor Him by receiving all that He is and has obtained for us in Himself, not by giving Him what we think He needs or wants.
Some may ask at this point, How then do we properly “serve” God in light of passages that speak of us as His servants? We must begin by defining what it means to be God’s servants. We are lovingly called God’s “servants” because He redeemed us and we are His. We have been bought with a price—the blood of Jesus (see 1 Cor. 6:20). We are also properly called God’s “servants” inasmuch as we submit to His authority and recognize His right to tell us to do whatever pleases Him.
However, we need to realize that every command from the Father is His way of telling us how much He wants to serve us. I can’t emphasize this enough. The pathway of love-empowered living is the place where He meets us to carry our burdens and give us the power to do His will. The Father doesn’t need our help. He desires our willing obedience and offers His help.
Yield to His Will
We all need to learn to live by the Father’s grace and power. The key is simply yielding to the Holy Spirit, who indwells you. Do you realize that for every work of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21, there is an opposite fruit of the Spirit that can be manifested in its place? In every situation you have a choice. Will you yield to self-will, or will you yield your will to the Father’s will? Yielding is an attitude of the heart. It’s not so much a question of doing anything as much as it is submitting to the Spirit when He wants to live His life through you. If you will yield to Him, the Holy Spirit will supply the grace and power to overcome. All He wants is your heart and affections.
We are not going to make it to the end simply because we’re a bunch of spiritual hotshots. We are not even going to make it because we are great followers. We are going to make it because He’s a great and loving Father and leader!
The call to love-empowered living is really an invitation to let the beauty and sweetness of Jesus so fill our hearts and minds that the seductive pleasures of sin will be swallowed up in the holy satisfaction of His presence.
- Roxanne Brandt, Ministering to the Lord, (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1973), 14-16.
This blog is taken from S. J.’s book, ENJOYING GOD, Experiencing the Love of Your Heavenly Father, published by Passio, Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group.