By S. Leonard Tyler
Our thinking is usually in terms of what God gives to us. This is so impressed upon us throughout the Book of God that it is hard for one to realize that we have something that God wants us to give him. Not that God must have it to exist or even to accomplish his design but we are indebted for our own salvation. Jesus said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.” One must not overlook, “Come unto me.” This is first. One must commit himself to the Lord, then the Lord said, “I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:27-30). Our acceptance of Jesus is for our own salvation. Paul wrote, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17-18). Our coming out from among the wicked and being a separate people is in order that we may be the sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. You and I have a choice and our choice is the determining factor as to whether or not we shall belong to the Father. He wants us and has given his only begotten Son that he might prepare a way and lead us into choosing to walk therein. Our choosing to come out from among the wicked, to be a separate people for the service of God, surely, is the determining factor of which way I will travel, the broad way or the strait and narrow way. Yes, you and I must choose to accept and follow Jesus or we are lost. I have a decision to make and you have one to make and God holds us responsible to him. It is a heart decision of a life one wants to live (Rom. 6:17-18).
1. We can give him our love. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37). John tells us that we owe our first love to God because he “so loved us” and manifested his love while we were yet sinners by giving his only begotten Son to die that we might live (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:6-10), and then adds, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” This is one way by which our love for God is tested. But the some total is expressed, “For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 Jn. 5:3).
2. We can give him our time. Put him first in our lives. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). It must be done today. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2b). Again, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed, the night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day. . . ” (Rom. 13:11-13). The rich man of Luke 16 didn’t take time to serve God. He would not even give crumbs of his bread to a poor hungry, sick man. But he took time to die. After his death he begged that same poor man might bring to him just one little drop of water on the tip of his finger and touch it to his tongue. He also begged that same poor man to be sent back to his father’s house and warn his five brothers. He wanted them spared from such a place of punishment. Brother, you had better not fail to take time to obey the Lord for the night cometh and your destiny is sealed. It is too late then to cry, “Send Lazarus,” for the gulf is fixed -no passing is allowed.
3. We can give our ability into his service. Read Matthew 25, the ten virgins, the giving of the talents, and then the account of the judgment. Now think! Why were the five foolish virgins forbidden to attend the marriage feast? Next, why was the one talent man cast out? Each failed to use his or her ability in the work of the Lord? There are many things that you can do. Do you want to learn how to serve? Then start serving. There is no other way. Are you studying? Attending the services? Praying? Are you willing to do or try when called upon. Think! The judgment lies ahead.
4. We can give of our money. Each Christian is a steward of God and must give an account of his stewardship. Peter wrote, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 4:10). God has entrusted us with everything that we have. Surely, we can and will gladly give of our money according to his instructions: (1) As we are prospered; (2) Regularly, “upon thefirst day of the week” (1 Cor. 16:1-2). (3) Purposefully, which is to plan to give a certain amount to the Lord (2 Cor. 9:7). (4) Bountifully and cheerfully. God loves this kind of a giver. Does God love you as one who gives to him because you give as prospered, lovingly, gladly, and above all cheerfully. This is not asking too much of any one, because it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Cor. 8:12).
Finally, to sum up the whole duty of man, we must give ourselves – “For this is the whole duty of man, fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). This must be done willingly, unreservedly and completely. Jesus emphatically taught this in Matthw 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let his deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Paul said of himself, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Phil. 3:13). When Pau pointed out the generosity of the Macedonians he said, “But first gave their ownselves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (2 Cor. 8:5).
Are you truly converted to Christ? If you are, you have made up your mind to serve him above all, if necessary, in spite of all. Christ loves you. He gave himself to die on the cross for your salvation. He promises to forgive your sins and reconcile you unto the Father in his body, if you will believe and obey him (Mk. 16:15-16; Heb. 5:9).
This is not a game. We are not playing at serving the Lord. If we are, we are missing the mark. Listen to this plain statement, “He that loveth father or mother more then me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daugther more than me is not worthy of me. He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and -he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 10:37-39). We too often talk about how much the Lord means to us but our lives fail to substantiate it. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
Are you filling your place in the local church? The spiritual body of Christ is the church, all the redeemed of the earth. Everyone saved by the blood of Christ composes the church of Christ. This is a relationship and each saved person is responsible to the Lord to do his will to live faithfully wherever he is or goes (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). But the church in the universal sense has no organization except Christ as the head and all individually subjected to him. However, there is the local church divinely prescribed through which God’s people function together as a unit through which to admonish, teach, encourage, and accomplish the mission God planned, Jesus sustains and the Holy Spirit reveals for his people. One must not forsake the assembling together for worship: teaching, partaking of the Lord’s supper, giving,praying, and singing. Preaching the gospel of Christ to the whole world is a great task and we must rise up and meet the challenge.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 24, pp. 739-740
December 17, 1987