"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
"For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations."
Many of us serve the Lord out of obligation. Why? Maybe we think if we serve the Lord we can earn his favor and blessing? It's as if we try to negotiate with God. "I'll give you my gifts, money, time, or love if you, God, will give me . . . ." How many times do we try to do this? How many times do we forget that it is the Lord who made us? How often do we overlook that we are his people and we dwell in his pasture?
Too often, we serve with the wrong motivation. Our heart is in the wrong place.
In Psalm 50, God summons his people into formal hearing and declares that he doesn't want our sacrifices when they are done with the wrong motivation. God wants our heart. Paul instructs on giving financial resources and reminds us that God doesn't want us to give with a reluctant heart, but instead it says, "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). God wants us to give and serve with joy. "Serve the LORD with gladness!" Psalm 100:2 says.
In our community, a prevalent idea poisons our thinking. The idea says that our salvation is somehow dependant upon how well and how often we serve God. According to the Bible, that's not true. But this repugnant idea has seeped in and shaped our behavior.
That being said, the Bible does say we should serve God because he allows us to join in his mission for our own good. It's like letting a small child make cookies with you when you know it would be easier to do it yourself. It's not about the cookies. It's about the relationship. So it is with our service for God and others.
Sometimes we are grumbling servants, aren't we? I know my attitude stumbles into this from time to time. But God calls us to serve with joy. Are you serving with joy or are you serving out of obligation? What's keeping you from serving with joy?
If joy is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, shouldn't we expect to see the service we give filled with joy? Don't you want to be filled with joy in the things you do for God's kingdom? Joy should be present in our service if we are filled with the Spirit. Joy is a part if our service to God is from God. If there's not joy, it might be helpful to ask ourselves why?
In addition, think about our witness when we serve with joy. Joy is contagious. I can't help but think about the scene in the movie, "Finding Neverland" when Johnny Depp's character, James Barrie put little orphan kids throughout the theater to giggle at the funny parts of "Peter Pan." The impact those little giggles had on the stuffy adults is much like the impact joyful service has on those around us.
Are you serving with joy? I hope you'll join with a House Fellowship this week to discuss joyful service. And I hope I see you this Sunday at 11am. I'll be talking about serving with joy.
Soli Deo gloria!