True Service

We first learn the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ, and then at a much slower and longer pace we learn its understanding and all that accompanies it. The knowledge remains the same but understanding it is progressively unceasing, and the level of conscious use concerning salvation will be commensurate with its level of our understanding it. Thus the service in the walk of faith is always secondary to the understanding of the walk because it is the level of understanding the provisions of rebirth that determine the efficiency of its usage.

I believe it’s the conscience that manifests most the understanding of the freedom which redemption brings within the walk and service of the saint!

- NC

True Service

The effect of the revelation of the Lord Jesus is glory to the heart of Saul of Tarsus was to awaken in him and draw from him the question, “What wilt Thou have me do Lord?” When one is truly convinced of the folly and evil of one’s course hitherto, there arises necessarily in the heart and conscience this inquiry,

”What am I to do? How shall I act? The nature or the measure of the effect of the revelation of the Lord Jesus to my heart is declared by the earnestness and simplicity in which I seek to know from Him what He would have me to do. When He absolutely fills the heart, conscious of its subjection heretofore, and seeking now to yield altogether to Him, it utters the anxious question, “What shall I do Lord?”

Now my doing anything for the Lord depends as to its intent and scope on the measure of my knowledge of what He has done for me. If there is any defect in my reception of the fullness of His work for me, there will be a corresponding and distinct trace of this flaw in my service for Him. Love always has an act expressive of itself, and in, or rather by this act it reveals itself in a peculiar way. “We love Him because He first loved us.” His acts demonstrate the nature and quality of His love, and ours, of our love; and the order and quality of our love to Him will be according to the thought we have formed, and the measure in which we have apprehended His love to us” (it’s been well said that “love functions not according to the quality of its object, but according to its nature”).

With Saul of Tarsus everything was so assured to him, a Savior in glory was so distinctly revealed to him, that self was set aside, and the Lord’s pleasure entirely and absolutely swayed him. It is plain that if there be any limitation in my heart of what the Lord Jesus is for me, it must impart a bias to my response to Him. Paul declares that at his conversion it pleased God to reveal His Son in him. When Christ obtains the absolute place in the heart, it has no object but Him, and therefore it implicitly defers to Him about everything.

It is important to see that the first cause of unspiritual and unapproved service can be traced to the weakness of the soul’s apprehension of Christ’s service to it. Every true observer must admit that there is a vast amount of zeal without knowledge, resulting in unsuited work, in the present day. Works are entered on because the necessities of the hour seem to suggest or require them, and not in simple obedience to Christ. No one can truly serve the Lord but as he knows His pleasure in respect to service. He must be inwardly and outwardly fitted for it. The Lord does not employ fitted servants for His work. He prepares them for it, imparts His own grace, so that “by the grace of God I am what I am.”

Thus true service depends on two things; first, on the measure of my heart’s apprehension of the Lord Jesus for myself, and secondly, on my fitness for the service committed to me. If I am defective in either of these, there will be a defect in every service undertaken, however useful it may be. Moses had purpose of heart to serve the Lord in Exodus 2; he chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” But he had to be fitted for it in this double way; he was not only to lose his self-confidence, but to have his own soul established with God, and to learn what it was to act for Him, to come to man from Him.

There must be suitability in the servant, and this suitability is twofold; on the one hand it is separation from the order and influence of things here, and on the other, conformity to Christ, which is only acquired in His presence. In order to serve truly we must first be assured of our acceptance in the glory of our Father.

What really gives strength and effectiveness to a servant is having a true sense of what it is to be in a sphere where he is independent of every influence but his Master’s. He is by nature connected with a sphere where the influences are against both him and his Lord, therefore to be independent of all influence or support around is his first great lesson in service. Joseph’s initial lesson in his school was that his father, who had hitherto countenanced and upheld him, did not understand him, but rebuked him when he told him what God had revealed to him in a dream (Gen 37:10). Thus from the first he was cast entirely on God, and then in the pit, in bondage, and in prison he was prepared for service.

We see in the case of Jonah, or Ezekiel, and of Daniel, how necessary and important it is for the servant to have his base with God; and while that is kept up he can never fail. Then, like Isaiah in chapter 6, when the Lord asks, “Whom shall I send?” it can say, “Send me.” He is not afraid or unwilling to face anything among men, because he knows his base is with God; and being accepted and at rest there, he can come forth to act for Him here, happy in the consciousness of his place above, from whence he comes. It was thus in perfection with our blessed Lord, who, amidst all the opposition and evil of man, could say in rest of heart, “I thank Thee, O Father.”

The happy and the really useful servant is the one who pleases his Lord. Unless this is the spring and motive of service there will be failure, and in order to please Him I must study Him. I shall never know what pleases the Lord unless I rest in Him, not by resorting to Him in prayer now and again, but rather by abiding in His company long enough to get the impression of it. If I do not sit as His feet and hear His Word, I shall fall into one or another of the many mistakes as to service rife enough at this hour. I must not only hear His Word, but I must be in His company. Everything depends on this. There is not real comprehension of the Word but in His presence; at least the moral range or claim of it cannot be apprehended anywhere else.

Often the secret desire is to produce an effect by visible means, and then faith and the invisible acting of the Holy Spirit are superseded and ignored, often most unintentionally. This class of servants, when not checked by the light of God’s Word, have not hesitated to use fire and sword to bring about a desired end. They suffer often, too, in a most exemplary way, but they really—and it is with this we have to do—have not truly inquired of the Lord, “What wilt Thou have to do?” Nor have they obtained instructions from Him as to the mode and manner of carrying out His mind.

Thus on the one hand we have to guard against seeking to accomplish right things by unscriptural means, and on the other, not to allow our own minds, or even man’s need merely, to dictate to us what we are to do. In either case we have declined from the nearness to the Lord, where His pleasure would have been communicated to us, and where His enablement would have supported us in keeping with His mind, and preserved us from the use of undue means and from being influenced by visible things.

Finally, I would repeat that the only way for a servant to avoid these two snares, or indeed to enter on service which is pleasing to the Father, is first, that the heart should be assured of its base with Him; and secondly, that the great question, “What shall I do Lord?” should be resolved by the study of the Master’s mind in His presence and apart from all human influences.

- J B Stoney

Excerpt from Miles J Stanford’s devotional for Jan-3: “"The purpose of God is that through the conditions and sufferings of my life should develop in me the features of His Son. On the one hand, the features of the old creation may be seen to be more and more terrible and horrible, as I recognize them in myself; but over against that God is doing something which is other than my old self. He is bringing into being Another, altogether other, and that is His Son, my new life. Slowly, seemingly all too slowly; nevertheless something is developing. The son-ship is not very much in evidence yet, but it is going to be manifested. What God has been doing will come out into the light eventually—conformity to the image of His Son." -T. A-S.