by Kenneth B. Kemper, President, Grace Bible College
“But I just don’t feel like doing it.” How many times have you heard someone speak those words, or even more alarming… you have spoken them? I’ve said them. It is so patently “human” NOT to want to do what we should, or what we know is the best thing to do. “Human” – in a biblical, Pauline (fleshly) sense – is our sin nature, which must be progressively transformed by the Spirit of God as we surrender our thoughts, motives, attitudes, and actions to His control.
If you are like every other person on the planet, are overburdened with self-centered natural (human) desires, the impetus to do what is right, to perform service, must come from an even more influential unnatural (supernatural) source more persuasive than your natural will. Curious? Read on. Maybe you think a special unction is needed before you can step up and serve as God has called. Read on, let’s explore this further. Keep in mind that when all is said and done, it becomes obvious, more is always said than ever is done! In other words, it’s going to come down to a motivational problem. We need a prod, a push, or a pull that absolutely makes us more uncomfortable to sit still than to serve! But what is our motivation for service?
The Indwelling Holy Spirit’s Prompting
The Word of God clearly states that from the moment of his instantaneous conversion a believer is the dwelling place of God. “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Rom. 9:8 ; and see Eph. 1:14 ; 3:17). As new life in Christ begins, God the Holy Spirit takes up residence and controls and leads whatever is surrendered to Him – not only daily, but moment by moment. This is the process of sanctification. It’s not a smooth ride, but more like a roller coaster, especially at first and during headstrong moments when a believer actually thinks he can manage on his own. The Spirit within seeks to lead and bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23 ; “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”), giving real life and significance to our existence. The truly amazing part is that the Holy Spirit never forces Himself upon us. Instead, He prompts and reminds us what is best, right and pleasing to the Lord. As a believer grows in the Lord, he becomes increasingly sensitive to the voice of God and His prompting, as the indwelling Spirit reminds of Scripture read or heard. The Spirit often prompts through wise words of godly friends, or even through circumstances or moments of silence in prayer before the Lord. Because our God is a communicating God Who is seeking relationship with each of His children, He communication as we hear His voice and respond obediently, with full faith.
Have you heard the prompting and whispering of God during the daily execution of your responsibilities as a father, mother, student, or employee? I have found it to be so again and again when I’m faithfully in communication with God in the quiet of the early morning (my personal devotion time), and He continues to prompt clearly and repeatedly throughout the day for the actions He desires. His Holy Spirit is the voice that is so soft, but yet powerfully impresses upon the heart and mind, Help that person. Stop and listen, now. Do what’s right. Don’t look at this or go there. Ask for time to pray about this first. Step up. You can do it. Have you heard those words or something closely like them lately in the midst of a situation? Yes, I imagine you have, but like me, you may not have heeded the Holy Spirit because you may have heard other messages, too, like What will others say? or, That would be a lot of work, and no one else is doing it. Let’s be brutally honest: believers know the source of those last couple thoughts. The “old man” is never fully eradicated this side of eternity, but believers make willful choices on a daily basis as to who will be their master. The one we listen to – and surrender our thoughts, hearts and actions to – will prevail in the daily fray. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Gal. 5:16 ). “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8 ). The Holy Spirit is theprompter – motivator – to serve. He leads us daily to do our every action for the glory of God, which is our reasonable service.
The Holy Spirit’s Enabling – Spiritual Gifts
The Holy Spirit – Who indwells the believer at the moment of salvation – not only prompts the believer to serve, but enables the believer to serve effectively. The Holy Spirit is the dispenser of Spiritual gifts. Paul explains this to the church at Corinth:
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
Paul goes on to say that parts of the body (members of the Church) have different gifts and they are not all the same – as some would desire to practice today. It is absolutely vital to note that the gifts were given “for the common good” and all given by the Spirit “to each one, just as He determines.” We can conclude that God, through the Holy Spirit, gives the gift as He sees fit. He gives a supernatural empowerment based on the indwelling Holy Spirit; without the Holy Spirit there is no gift. This “Spiritual gift” in Scripture is a grace (charis, Gk.), a special enablement from God to minister for the good of others, which we could never do in our own abilities. But the effectiveness of the gift and its lasting impact is most often in direct relation to our humble submission to His leading. It is not about self-aggrandizement. Rather, the gifts bring glory to God when we deny ourselves, surrender to His control, willingly step out of our comfortable activities, and move by the Spirit’s strength and power to act – turning deaf ears to the selfish promptings of our flesh.
The believer becomes the channel for the grace of God to flow through him to others when he practices his Spiritual gift (1 Pet. 4:10 ). The Holy Spirit sees that there is proportional gifting for the needed service to God. But the whole purpose of Spiritual gifts is to exercise them in the service of the Lord! To sit idly by without serving is to abuse or waste the gifts for their intended purpose, and to refuse to be Spirit led!
God has elected to carry out a portion of His eternal plan by way of the Church. He has called His children, given them the equipment (the Spiritual gifts), and communicated to them what to do (by prompting from His Word, others, and circumstances). So, when the work God has for His Church in local assemblies, in the world, in the family, or in the marketplace or neighborhood doesn’t get done… where is the problem? It certainly does not have anything to do with the desire of God to see His work done. It is not the result of a lack of gifts to carry out God’s work. And from my knowledge of Scripture, I refuse to believe God has ceased to communicate to His people what needs to be done (that would be inconsistent with His dealings with man throughout all recorded time). Therefore, we can only surmise that the power, the gifts, the calling, and the communication are falling on the deaf ears of uncommitted believers who willfully disregard the voice of God or the calling and promptings of God! In reality, by not serving we are hoarding God’s grace for ourselves and preventing it from working through us towards others.
The Focus of Our Lives: To Serve Others
God uses those who surrender to Him with their heart, soul, mind, and strength. In this surrender to the Lord, the Holy Spirit controls and shows us that a life of dedication to the Lord is one of service to others. “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5 ). God has so ordered our lives that our greatest fulfillment and significance comes from serving. Generally speaking, people can be labeled either “takers” or “givers.” A “taker” goes after every activity and skill to improve himself, and he hopes to attain happiness by amassing and using things and by exploiting others. On the other hand, a “giver” (server) goes after every activity and skill in order to help other people. Difficulties and problems frustrate a “taker” and make him resentful because he feels as if he has missed out on something. But when those same difficulties and problems confront a “giver,” he will resolve to commit even more of himself in service and helping those in greater need. Thus, the joy and fulfillment is intensified in the “giver” when the difficulty of the task is multiplied whereas the misery and unhappiness is intensified in the “taker” when the difficulty of the task increases! God prompts each one to be a giver; to give himself to God as an instrument of His grace, divinely enabled for every good work. The focus of a believer will make the difference. Too many believers get saved, but still live life with the focus on self-fulfillment and satisfaction, not realizing both will elude them until they change that focus. As believers, our focus must be on God’s desire for the significant life – in service of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – The Head of the Body.