Over her long history, England has often been at war. At one point the war was serious and victory was unsure. The Australians, out of loyalty to the British, wanted to do whatever they could to help. The word came back to them that the mother country needed ships. They asked for ships to be built. Ships may make the difference.
Well, the Australians didn’t know what to do. They didn’t build ships. They didn’t have shipyards. They decided that they would raise food for the armies and the people at home instead. They went to work with a passion and raised a huge amount of grain. This they sent to the water’s edge so that it would be ready when the ships from England came. But the ships never came.
Instead, the mice got into the grain and disease began to spread around the city. Many people were infected and lives were destroyed. All the while the leaders in England were asking for more ships.
Now I need to confess that I can’t find a historical verification for that story. It sounds reasonable and plagues caused by mice happen often in Australia. It’s a great preacher story. But it illustrates the kind of service so often seen in the church. Cathedrals are built, crusades are held, projects are worked, people are reached—but sometimes we wonder if those were the things God wanted at all.
There is a great blessing for those who are willing to serve. To serve the Lord and to serve others is, perhaps, the greatest call on the Christian life. I have said that the activity of God’s love is grace. This morning we focus on the activity of our love, which is often service. If we love God we will serve Him. If we love others we will serve them.
Certainly this is the model our Lord has given to us. We cannot help but see the great act of service our Lord did for us. Motivated by His amazing love, He humbled Himself and became like us so that He, by His own sacrificial service, could give us eternal life.
Not only that, as wonderful as it was, He also showed us service through His earthly life. He washed His disciples’ feet. He served them at Passover. He fed the multitude and healed their diseases. His whole earthly life was a life of service.
So we also are called to serve. There is a clear command to us that we should serve the Lord.
Deuteronomy 10:12 ( NKJV ) 12“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
To serve Him with all your heart and soul. That’s the command. And it isn’t a hard command for us, is it? After all, we know that our eternal future is a gift from His love. To serve the Lord is a joy to us.
Oh, I know that there is still some distraction and temptation in our hearts. But the truth is that almost every Christian would like to serve the Lord faithfully. How can we respond to His great love for us in any other way? If we belong to Him, we want to serve Him and offer many good works to His glory. It isn’t just that we want to hear the words, “Well done!” when we arrive in Heaven. It isn’t just that we look forward to the rewards for faithful service. It is that we love Him and want to show our love for Him by our gifts.
Serving the Lord and serving others is an important part of the Christian life. In fact, if we put it in terms of love (and service is simply love in action), then serving the Lord and serving others is the central call of the Christian life.
The command to serve the Lord and the Lord only is so strong that great blessings and curses are tied to it. In Deuteronomy, Moses gives the word of the Lord to the people:
Deuteronomy 11:13-17 ( NKJV ) 13‘And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. 15And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.’
So, we must serve the Lord. It is commanded and it is expected and is rewarded. It is also the joy and privilege of our lives. However, before you run out of here to serve the Lord there is something you need to know. In order to please the Lord with your service, you need what I will call “serving grace”.