The Discipline of Service

It is well to understand that the Father will have us to appreciate our portion in His Son in contrast to everything here. We try in vain to combine both, so that a great deal of our time is spent in learning that there is nothing here to meet the requirements of our new affections.

There is a wandering in the wilderness in a solitary way, and yet no city is found to dwell in. But God allows this in order that His children may find that their desires can only be satisfied by Him. We must learn that we are not of this world. Surely we ought to lay it to heart how much of our discipline arises from clinging to the world in one form or another, instead of on account of our testimony against it.

It is worthy to note that no leader of God’s people suffers less than the people whom he is called to lead. Human leaders may rise to command and position in many ways; but the leaders of God’s people can only rise in one way, this is, through suffering (I would think primarily this concerns the enduring of hardness from trials and testings—NC). The power to endure and encounter every liability and obstruction resting on the people is first proved and maintained by the leader; and then he can lead them in assured confidence in God, by whose power he has overcome. We are not always morally prepared for the expression of our purposes, even though they be right ones. There must be strength and maturity before there can be fruit-bearing. And hence, though the desire be a true one, there will be delay and discipline until one is morally equal to the task and calling.

It is always the manner of the Father’s discipline to make His servants practically pass through, and learn in a fuller and more vivid way, that particular line of truth of which He designs them to be the channel. Many attempt to serve the Lord, hoping thereby to acquire rest and peace for their own souls. Consequently they continue the service, and value it according as it contributes the desired relief. It is true that every true soul acting for God must be established in the sense of His favors; but when this is the object, the service is diverted from its true aim, and the proper spring of it is lost. Service must be undertaken by one happy in God, and therefore happy to be a fellow-worker with Him; and it must be pursued and executed quite independently of its effects on himself, and entirely with respect to the will of God.

Great services for others will not supply the soul’s necessities, which can only be supplied from the Lord Jesus. However brilliant our services, our own souls will famish unless directly sustained by the Lord, for mere service never sustains. On the contrary, the greater the service, the more shall we be conscious of our own necessity and dependence on the Father for personal support. The greatest service will not supply one drop of relief to the weary soul. From the Father alone that must come.

When the one who has known the blessing of dependence on God has been drawn aside into thinking and acting for himself, no greater mercy can be vouched to him than that he should be involved in such straits that nothing but the return to dependence on the Father can afford any relief.

It is always the Father’s way to appoint first, and then to qualify. With man it is the reverse: he requires qualification for appointment; but we may rest assured that the Father will fit us for whatever responsibility He has destined us, after He appoints us thereto.

Our Father, in His own counsel, appoints the servant who is suited to carry out His will; but though that servant be endowed by Him with power to do so, yet unless he be controlled and disciplined by the hand of God, he will continually fall into the devising’s of his old nature, no matter how godly and divine may be his intent. For we greatly err if we think that having the divine thought is all that is necessary as to our service; we must truly and efficiently be expressive of the thought; and this subjects us, as servants of God, to discipline which we often cannot understand.

The more useful anyone is, the more he requires to be brought to and end of himself, and to find his all in his Father. We find some of His servants deeply chastened at first, in order to prepare them for a useful course; and some after a useful period are brought low and afflicted in order that they might learn how truly and fully God, in His own blessed self, is paramount to everything.

However well instructed in the Word a servant may be, still he requires to be in circumstances to make him apprehend really the meaning of the truth which he propounds. The prison was necessary for Paul in order to write the Epistle to the Ephesians, as a Patmos was for John to receive the Revelation. The truth, the diamond, requires a setting suited to itself.

The greater the knowledge committed to a servant, the more necessary and important it is that he should be much alone with the Father about it, in order that he may realize the nature and effect of it on himself before he undertakes to make it known to others. This rumination is of the deepest importance. It rebukes the haste and readiness with which many now enter on the ministry, attempting to impress others with a measure of truth which they have not proved for themselves. Surely the servant should be able to say: “I have believed and therefore have I spoken” (2Cor 4:13).

It is sometimes thought that it would be a loss of time if a servant were to spend two years in solitude before entering on public services. It is better to lose time as to work in preparing for service than to lose time in repairing one’s mistakes in undertaking a work for which one is not yet competent.

How little one may see the way in which each servant has to be led in order that he may be fitted for the Lord’s service! As obstacles arise, as surely they must, in a world of evil, the exercised servant learns in the strait the sufficiency of the Father; and then he can say, “By the strength of my God I have leaped over a wall.” The efficient servant, as a rule, first learns for himself the path and the power in which he has to lead the saints.

If we suffer without succeeding, it is that someone else may succeed. If we succeed without suffering, it is because someone else has suffered.

- J B Stoney
It's a great point that none of us wants to hear..

So often - there's a great gulf between what it takes to accomplish something in "Real Life" and what the pages of the book say... It's easy to write pious, thoughtful, and useful sounding things when you aren't being ground up in the grinder of life... The real life "Doing" it, on the other hand is never so neat and tidy...

That's the value of someone who had to go through it... They can bring the real life help that you never see in a book... The sort of stuff that everybody reading it online will make fun of and throw rocks at - because it doesn't fit neatly into the box and contradicts various doctrines of man that are well accepted.... but, it's the gold of real life...
It's a great point that none of us wants to hear..
So often - there's a great gulf between what it takes to accomplish something in "Real Life" and what the pages of the book say

Hi JohnC - This is a perceptive and true comment. I believe the "gulf" or distance between learning from Scripture and the Spirit teaching its practical application has three basic levels: the novice in Christ which will be at minimal maturity, due to time in learning; those at an intermediate maturity; and those (who are always the fewest) who are at an advanced maturity who "have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb 5:14).

I believe the most thorough way is primarily familiarizing one's self with as much Scriptural knowledge as possible (re-reading esp. the NT the most), because our limit to being taught understanding, in time by the Spirit (1Cor 2:13), will consist mostly in our limit of knowing first what's in Scripture.

It's always more blessed to be with the Lord's fellowship in suffering, than to avoid it and lack growth.

Thanks for the reply and comments.

God's blessing to your Family!