Zealous For Good Works
Jesus Christ….gave himself for us…to purify for himself a people for his own purpose who are zealous for good works.(Titus 2:13-14)
Christ gave Himself for us, He redeemed us from all iniquity, He cleansed us for Himself, He took us for a people, for His own possession. And all with the one object, that we should be a people zealous for good works. Christ expects us to be zealots for good works- ardently, enthusiastically devoted to their performance.
One thing that wakens zeal in good works is a great and urgent sense of need. A great need stirs the heart and the will, rouses all the energies of our being. Christ needs urgently our good works. We are His servants, the members of His body, without whom He cannot possibly carry on His work on earth. The work is so great- with hundreds of millions unsaved- that not one worker can be spared. There are thousands of. Christians today who feel their own business is urgent and must be attended to, and have no conception of the urgency of Christ’s work committed to them. The Church must waken up to teach each believer this.
A second great element of zeal in work is delight in it. Once we give our hearts to it, and seek for the training that makes us in some degree skilled workmen, there is no greater joy than that of sharing in Christ’s work of mercy and beneficence.
Then comes the highest motive, the personal one of attachment to Christ our Redeemer; “The love of Christ constraineth us”(2Corinthians 5:14). This love, renewed in us by the renewing of the Holy Ghost day by day, becomes a zeal for Christ that shows itself as a zeal for good works.
“Zealous of good works!” Let us accept it as our calling. Let us be sure it is the very nature of the new life within us. Let us in faith claim it as an integral part of our redemption-Christ Himself will make it true for us.
The continuous issues of conflict in the world and the church stems from our perception of servanthood. It is a matter of whether we “come to serve or to be served.” Christ was very explicit that He Himself came to serve. Of all that could rightly have demanded that others serve Him, He alone qualifies. As the Son of God-God, He could have utilized the commandment: “Thou shall serve the Lord your God, and Him only shall thou serve.” Instead we find that His entire life was given to that of serving His Father and the people to whom His Father sent Him to.
In the moment of conflict among the disciples, as they contended for the elevated positions, He picks up the towel and washes their feet. He says to them that what He has done, they should do as well. We could just leave that as the mere washing of feet as a religious ritual but He was teaching something more than ritual. He was teaching living a servant lifestyle.
Where does the vast majority of conflict derive from? Is it not that individuals feel that their needs, desires, wishes are not being taken care of by someone else? Is it not the drive to be in control, to have power or position or prestige? In all my years in life, both church and secular, I’ve observed that there is rarely, if ever, conflict over being a servant. Usually it arises when those who seek to be served aren’t receiving the quality or quantity of service they feel is rightly deserved.
Often we hear when people are unhappy with the church, that they “were not fed” as though the total responsibility lies upon the preacher/teacher to provide all the feeding of the Word. Others may say that they don’t feel a part of the church and yet do not choose to engage or involve themselves in the work of the church. Others may complain of “those who run the church” and leave them out of decision making. The root of all this is the demand to be served rather than the drive to serve.
Many relationships are unhappy relationships because one or both parties enter the relationship expecting the other party to give themselves to serving rather than each party choosing to enter the relationship with the desire to serve the other.
Some years ago I read a book and I don’t recall the title nor the author. What I do recall is the premise of the book. The idea presented was called the 100/0 principle in which one gives 100% of themselves in serving and expects/demands 0% in return. In other words, the person chooses to serve rather than be served.
I wonder what beautiful relationships could develop if we modeled Christ’s conduct of serving. What could your marriage, family relationships, church, and work place be like if we chose to give ourselves to serve.
Somewhere the disciples and apostles found the secret of the satisfaction of serving. Paul tells us that even in hardship, the love of God for him and his love for God continued to give him zeal for doing the work of God. Again I’ve noticed that far too often our service is more obligatory duty rather than delight. I hear often those in the church say, “Well I’ve put in my twenty, it’s time for someone else to do this job.” Sometimes it seems that the behind the scenes work is not sought as it doesn’t provide visibility or recognition. May I say as one who is in the place of high visibility, that if our service is so we can be seen or recognized that it is not true service. It is just another form of being served. We must ask the question of whether we would continue to “serve” even if we weren’t recognized and no one except Christ noticed.
The revolution needed in the church is not trying to discover a new way that the community can be served or some new program that attracts those seeking to be served. The need is that we as the people of God turn away from the desire to be served, turn away from our demands and expectation of “what can the church do for me?” and place ourselves in the Father’s hands as one of His tools carrying out His work. As long as the church focuses on its inward need and spends it resources meeting the desires of its members, it will never find itself engaged in the work of God. The work of God is not creating some club that we belong to that exists for our purposes and meets our needs. The work of God is proclaiming the Good News to a lost and dying world of thousands of sinners who have no hope. In truth the church that is not actively and zealously engaged in such work is not the church that Christ came to establish. He did not come to create another social institution in which we pay our dues and receive its benefits, His church has a single purpose- to proclaim the gospel to every creature. Since His church is not an institution nor a structure but a collection of individual believers, then every Christian has been called to serve in meeting the great need of evangelism.
As you view the church, what do you see? Is it a place where you go to receive or is it a place where you go to give? Is it’s purpose to serve you and your need or is it a place where you find opportunities to serve? Does your service have to be recognized or are you content to do the work and give God the glory? Can you serve without a title or position? Will you continue to seek opportunities to serve even after serving for many years?
I pray that each of us find the place that Christ found, the joy of serving God and others.
Dr. John Thompson