Scripture repeatedly admonishes and exhorts us to serve the Lord.
The very fact that the Word of God always exhorts us to do this implies a fact which we cannot very well escape or ignore. It implies that we don’t do that and are not of ourselves inclined to do that. Scripture paints a very black picture when it describes the natural man to us. And we have only to consider our daily experiences to realize that all that Scripture says of us, as we are by nature, is true. There is so little of that which is pleasing to God in our lives even after we have received His grace and confess that we are Christians. Every passing day teaches us over and over again how far we actually are from what we should be. We have all kinds of good intentions and resolves but so very little of the finished product. We arise in the morning with a heart full of purpose, only to find when the evening comes that we have miserably failed. Yes, indeed, we may be glad when there is such a purpose in us even though we weep over its fiasco. For that purpose, that desire to do, is not of us but has been given us of grace.
And yet, how little there is even of such holy resolve to serve the Lord! It is at best very spasmodic. It seems to be a matter of “now and then” rather than “always”. And we find that it is necessary for us to fix the thought in our mind through conscious application, although we would desire it to be spontaneous. We have to be told and we have to tell ourselves over and over again, “Serve the Lord!” We know that if this is not done we are going to drift along upon the current of our natural inclination and desires. And if God by His grace would not intervene to run our skiff aground so that we repent and turn anew unto Him, it would surely capsize and cast us down to hell.
What a commentary our life really is on the incompetency of the natural heart to serve the Lord! How necessary it is for us to hear that word: “Serve the Lord with gladness!”
To serve Him implies that we acknowledge that He is God, the Sovereign Lord, the sole Possessor of all things. That to Him is due all praise and glory and honor. To serve Him means to bow before Him in deep humility and contrition of heart, to confess His name, to do His will, to love His law and do His commandments, to glorify Him in all our life. To serve Him means that He is the object of all our thinking, willing and working; so that we know no other good and seek no good apart from Him. To serve the Lord means to live unto Him as by His grace we live out of Him through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Serve Him with gladness!
Be joyful in the Lord!
And why shouldn’t we serve the Lord with gladness and rejoice in the God of our salvation? We have every reason to do that and no reason at all not to do it! Has He not delivered us from all our sins and removed all our guilt? Has He not liberated us from the bondage and power of sin into the glorious liberty of the children of God? Has He not called us out of the terrible darkness of our natural corruption into the marvelous light of His grace and salvation? Are not His blessed promises many and precious? For He has said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, and He assures us that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord; that He causes all things to work together for good to those that love Him, so that when God is for us nothing can be against us: that in Jesus Christ we are more than conquerors and with Him shall live forever.
Shall we not then serve the Lord with gladness?!
Is there any good, is there any joy in anything else?
Surely all that is not of Him is vain and all that glitters in the world is not true gold. Pity the wretch who seeks himself and attempts to satisfy his soul with the husks of worldly things, with riches and honor and pleasure. For all his works are sin and he shall surely be destroyed!
And being by His grace delivered from this all we sing:
How great the goodness kept in store
For those who fear Thee and adore
In meek humility;
How great the deeds with mercy fraught
Which openly Thy hand hath wrought
For those that trust in Thee.
Ye saints, Jehovah love and serve.
For He the faithful will preserve,
And shield from men of pride;
Be strong and let your hearts be brave,
All ye that wait for Him to save,
In God the Lord confide.