You see, not all service to the Lord is pleasing to Him. Nor is everything that is called service really service to the Lord. There are a few things we need to understand in order to be successful in our service to the Lord.
First, we must belong to Him. That may seem obvious, but there will be many in the Day of Judgment who will think that they have been serving the Lord through their lives only to find out that He didn’t recognize their work.
Matthew 7:21-23 ( NKJV ) 21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Some people serve the Lord in order to receive God’s love. They don’t really know Him. They think they can sway His judgment of them by doing good works. Wouldn’t it be sad to serve the Lord and never really know Him? It might seem strange to us, but there are many people who serve the Lord that way. They have believed that service will gain salvation. They serve the Lord with strength and zeal because they think that the more they serve the better their chances for salvation. But it is very clear that salvation must come first. If you want your service to the Lord to be acceptable to Him, you must belong to Him.
The second thing we must know about service is that service to the Lord is only acceptable if we are clean. Someone once said that the Lord can use broken vessels, but He will not use unclean ones. Paul spoke to Timothy about people in the church who held on to pride and selfishness. He suggests that those who continue to hold on to self will be dishonored and therefore unfit for service. However, those who yield themselves to the Lord will be “vessels of honor”.
2 Timothy 2:21 ( NKJV ) 21Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
Last week we talked about God’s cleansing grace. Some people serve the Lord in order to keep God’s love. They think that they have to do good works in order to earn His continuing forgiveness or to offset the evil that they continue to do. But we are already clean and are kept clean by His grace. Only those who have been cleansed by His grace can perform acceptable service to the Lord. And you, if you belong to Him, are clean.