As those who are learning to serve God by letting God initiate and we cooperate, we need to see what are the signs of service from man and service from God, what are some tests of our service for God, and how we need to bear responsibility and be absolutely faithful in service to God.
The basic principle in our service for God is that everything must be initiated by God.
This means that all we do as believers in Christ who pursue Him and want to serve Him is that we come forward to Him, we open to Him, we spend time with Him, and we refuse to initiate anything in working for Him; rather, we let Him initiate.
When we initiate something for the Lord, many times it ends up in being “our own work” with our own taste, according to our preference, by our own power, and for us to be accepted and recognized.
But when we work for the Lord and serve Him by letting Him initiate everything, we simply cooperate with Him, we let Him take the lead and strengthen us within, we are one with Him, and He in us is serving and bearing responsibility, being faithful to the end.
The result of our serving the Lord by letting Him initiate and we cooperate is that we are one with Him, we love Him more, and He gets all the glory; also, our service is in the Body, with the saints, not by ourselves as if we’re a spiritual giant.
God only needs our cooperation – but He doesn’t require our initiation. May this principle really be implanted in us all in the church life in the Lord’s recovery, so that we learn to first open to the Lord, check with Him, and even check with fellow members in the Body before we initiate anything in our service to the Lord.
God doesn’t need “guerrilla army” behind enemy’s lines, He doesn’t need “lone rangers” that do great works for God, and He doesn’t want merely zealous believers who labor day and night for the Lord – so that others see what they do and praise Him.
What the Lord needs is normal believers in Christ who live a daily life under the divine dispensing, who learn to be one spirit with the Lord, who remain in the Body by being built up with their fellow members, and who love the Lord, serve Him, and let Him initiate everything in their service for Him.
Three Tests of our Service for God: Signs of Service from man and Service from God
This week the Lord has been shining on us on the matter of knowing life and the church, in particular in the matter of the church; we have been really exposed in His light of the fact that, even though we love the Lord and want to serve Him, it is only He who can initiate, and we simply need to cooperate.
However, there are so many things to be done and taken care of in the church life, and many times we just have to do many things; again and again we need to be reminded that we need to render God service pleasing in His sight, service initiated by Him, by His strength, and for His glory.
There are a few tests to our service for the Lord, to see whether this service is from God or it is from man.
First, service from man has man’s natural enjoyment, excitement, preference, and flavor; service from God involves the application of the cross, the denial of the self, and the putting aside of our tastes and preferences.
When we serve God and are excited about it, are naturally enjoying it, and put in all our efforts together with our natural flavour, that is service from the self, and it is rejected by God.
This doesn’t mean that serving God is not enjoyable; it means that our service to God should not be in our natural enjoyment, preference, flavour, and excitement, but it should be in spirit with the application of the cross.
A second test is whether we can sleep and eat peacefully when our work is not carried out successfully, that is, if we are anxious in ourselves concerning the Lord’s work.
If the Lord initiates the work and we are one with Him in doing it, taking Him as our strength, and serving Him with our little power in our limited capacity, we also trust in the Lord concerning the advance of the work and the success of the work.
If we become upset when we encounter problems and difficulties in our work, or we are disappointed when the work is ruined and the service is suddenly cut off, then our service is from the self.
When our service and work originate with the Lord, we will worship Him even when we encounter problems, and we will not be disappointed when the service is overthrown or suddenly stopped; we trust in the Lord, we rely on Him, and we constantly depend on Him, knowing that He is in control.
Finally, the third test is whether we are anxious or quarrelsome in our work for the Lord; if others don’t join in or don’t work together with you in the service, you may be worried or may argue with them – this is a sign of service coming from man.
Laboring together with others always brings in friction and problems, but when service comes from God, we depend on Him, we look to Him concerning the advance of the work, and we learn to fellowship with the Lord and with one another in serving the Lord.
When we do our own work “for the Lord”, we are often anxious for success; but if we do the Lord’s work, we look to Him for the strength to accomplish it, we desire that He gains the glory, and we know it is the Lord’s business, not ours.
When one is anxious in the Lord’s work, he is serving from himself; when one is resting in the Lord and trusting in Him, his service is in oneness with the Lord.
Lord Jesus, we love You and we give ourselves to You to serve You, allowing You to initiate the service while we just cooperate with You. Save us from saving according to our natural preference, in our natural enjoyment, and with our own flavor. We want to let You initiate, take You as our strength for carrying out the work, and seek that You gain all the glory. Save us from being worried or anxious in our service to You. Keep us at rest in You, one with You, and always looking to You and depending on You in everything.
Learning to Bear Responsibility and be Faithful in Service to God, being One with Him
The things said above such as “not being worried in our service to God, since it is His business and not our work” doesn’t mean that we should be careless in our service to God, since God is the One in charge.
Rather, although all our service is initiated by God, we must learn to bear responsibility and be absolutely faithful in service before the Lord (1 Cor. 4:1-2; 7:25).
We shouldn’t merely be exposed of what our natural man could do in God’s work – so we go home and sit there, doing nothing for the Lord; on the contrary, we need to do much for the Lord in these days when the whole earth is open, the work is plenteous, and the fields are white, but as we do that, we need to rely on Him, be joined to Him, and be pure and faithful.
In all our service to the Lord we need to rely on the Lord, depend on Him, and carry out our service by being joined to the Lord and being in fellowship with Him.
On the one hand we need to be detached from the work, not putting our natural feelings and zeal and strength in it, and on the other hand, we need to learn to be faithful to God in service and bear responsibility, being one with Him in fellowship with Him and with the saints in the Body.
If we see an improper condition in the church and therefore we can’t eat or sleep well, this is a problem. If our heart is set on the Lord’s work and we worry about it, being anxious how to advance it and carry it out, this is a problem.
We need to learn to rest in the Lord, be at peace in Him concerning the work, trust in Him, and sleep peacefully as we experience being one with Him. At the same time, if someone hands over a certain matter for us to take care of it, we need to be faithful to the Lord in the Body to serve in the church.
An irresponsible person is useless in God’s hand. Although our service for God doesn’t originate from us but from the Lord, we must be absolutely faithful and responsible in what we do.
When we rely on the Lord, carrying out the service by being joined to Him and being in fellowship with Him, our service builds up the Body of Christ to consummate the New Jerusalem, and also such a service prepares us to serve God in eternity and for eternity (Eph. 4:11-12; Rev. 22:3).
Our service in this age prepares us to serve God for eternity. May our service in the church life in the Lord’s recovery, in His work, not supplant God’s authority, not supersede God’s power, and never rob God’s glory.
May we learn to serve God by letting Him initiate the work and we cooperate by being joined to Him, being in fellowship with Him, relying on Him, and bearing responsibility and being faithful before the Lord.
Lord Jesus, may our service in the church life not supplant God’s authority, not supersede God’s power, and never rob God of His glory. May all our service be initiated by God. We just want to rely on You, carrying out our service by being joined to the Lord and by being in fellowship with Him, one with Him. Lord, we want to learn to bear responsibility in work and be absolutely faithful in service before the Lord. May our service build up the Body of Christ to consummate the New Jerusalem!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Minoru Chen for this week, and portions from, Knowing Life and the Church, ch. 18 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Knowing Life and the Church, msg. 3 (week 3), The Need for All Our Service to Be Initiated by God.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Not our self-appointed task / Will the Lord’s approval win, / But the work we did not ask, / Finished humbly, just for Him…. / Thus we die, and dying live / In the heavenlies with the Lord; / Thus we serve, and pray, and give, / Christ Himself our great Reward. (Hymns #907)
# ’Tis not a movement borne of man, / But by His power moving; / ’Tis not the deeds done outwardly, / But inward action proving. / ’Tis not the work of enterprise, / But ‘tis His life confessing; / ’Tis not to toil for our success, / But ‘tis Himself expressing. (Hymns #910)
# Lord, I need You more today, than any other. / Lord, I need You more right now, than ever before. / Lord, You are so near, be everything to me, / I couldn’t live a day without You; / I’m totally dependent on You; / Lord, I need You. (Song on loving the Lord)
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