The Heart of a Servant in the Church

“He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.”  (Proverbs 27:14).

The communion of the saints is a wonderful thing. Feeling the care and spiritual encouragement of one’s church family, especially in times of grief or spiritual struggle, is a great blessing and comfort to the Child of God. God did not mean for us to walk this pilgrimage alone. As it is written in Ecclesiastes 4:10, “woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” The unity of the body of Christ is a good and beautiful thing.

However, we must search our hearts so that our good deeds towards our brothers and sisters don’t become a source of pride on our own part. In Proverbs 27, Solomon writes of a man who wakes up early to bless his friend “with a loud voice.” This man may be “blessing his friend,” but the manner in which he is doing it indicates that he actually cares less about the wellbeing of the friend and more about the approval of his peers. Just like the public prayers of the Pharisees, this “act of goodness” is a show, meant to make his friend and all those who would hear his “blessing” aware of his “goodness” and see him in a better light. The man is not motivated by love, but by his own pride.

When we serve one another in the church we must take heed that we are actually looking to serve Christ and our neighbor, not our own selves. When we bring a meal to a family in need our intent must not be that other people think we are “so caring” or a great cook. When we help each other out, or give a card of encouragement it must not be for the sake of looking like a better person. Our humility before God is a serious matter, for “every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 16:5).”

The goal of your service in the Church is ultimately that you “serve Him [the LORD] in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things He hath done for you.” When we recognize Who God is and how unworthy we are to be called His children, we are filled with fear and awe. That recognition is what gives us humility in our own weakness, and thankfulness and joy in doing God’s will, for His own pleasure. The more we realize just who God is and what He has done, the more able we are to truly put on the heart of a servant. May we ever conform ourselves more and more to His will and image!

Abby Huizing

Anger

A man and his wife were having a conversation. She called it working out a problem by talking with him and reminding him about it. He called it an attack on his character. They were discussing his “forgetfulness”, or at least the apparent notion of it. He thought that her reminding him about his tendency to forget to do particular tasks labeled him a lazy person. She didn’t think so, and was just trying to be a helpful person. He misinterpreted her true intention of the reminder, and got angry. Seeing him get angry, she fed off his negative energy and became angry herself. She raised her voice; he saw her get flustered, and got more angry; etc. Finally it ended when one of them left the house.

How often do we get angry? How often do we get angry for the wrong reasons? How often do we get angry for no reason at all? How true it is that when we get angry, we almost always get angry because we read the situation wrong. In the story above, it was the man’s misinterpretation of his wife’s true intention that caused the problem. She was only trying to be a helpful person with her reminders. The root problem is pride. HE thought that HE knew what she intended. HE assumed that HIS version was the right one. HE was the one who got angry. HE was the one who got her angry. All because HE thought that HE knew what was right. That is pride in a nutshell.

There are multiple instances in the Bible where someone of importance, or even the nation of Israel, “provoked the anger of the Lord.” This however is different. They brought about the anger of the Lord for their transgressions against the Lord. And since God knows everything, and especially knows the heart, it provoked Him to anger.

There are different types of anger. There is the emotional type of anger that we are so familiar with on a daily basis because of our weak and sinful nature. It is the anger spoken of in Ephesians 4:31, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” It is the anger found in Colossians 3:8, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” And then we have the anger expressed in Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” How do we reconcile the apparent difference in these two passages? The difference is that in Ephesians 4:26 the anger expressed is holy anger. In John 2:14-16 we read a good expression of holy anger by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, “And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”

This article is not about the question of whether we can express holy anger, but rather to remind us to refrain from unrighteous anger. We must avoid the unrighteous anger that culminates in revenge such as that found in Romans 12:19: “dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” We ourselves are saved from being the objects of God’s wrath. We are saved so that we no longer conduct ourselves as the sinners described in Ephesians 2:3: “among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Let us live our lives as anger free as possible, living in thankfulness to the salvation freely given to us!

Patrick Streyle

A condescending holiness

One of the biggest dangers, I believe, that we have as believers in the Church is to think that we are above those around us. It is easy to have a certain ‘holy pride,’ knowing that we have been chosen to be numbered among God’s elect, and also that we are striving to live a godly life. We may become, in our minds and in our speech with fellow Christians, condescending towards those we know who are not of the Church, or who are walking a life of sin.

There is a certain pride that is acceptable and even good in the life of the Christian. It is referenced in Professor Engelsma’s pamphlet on the importance of good Christian self-esteem, where he points out that we have been chosen by (and are therefore precious to) God from eternity, and have been redeemed with the blood of our Lord, regenerated by the Holy Spirit. We have a pride, in our good and all-powerful Lord, who has worked salvation in us. It is a self-less and God-oriented pride, for absolutely none of this is our own doing. As we read in Psalm 103, we are as dust (vs.14-16). That same chapter reminds us that we have anything that we have only because of God’s everlasting mercy.  Therefore, we know that a condescending pride is what ill-suits a Christian.

Yet, still, it is easy to judge our neighbors. This could be anyone from the worker at the local gas station, to a professor in college, even to a classmate who is a fellow church member. Those around us do, after all, often appall us in their blatantly antichristian lives. We cannot deny that there are many around us who are living their lives in wretched sin. Or at least, even if their lifestyles aren’t so blatant, we can see that they have no heart for their Lord, or that they have a shaky faith.

Other times, too, we label sinners because of something they may represent, or because they apply to a point we are trying to make. For example, we may speak strongly and bitterly against certain heretics prevalent around us, because of their wrongs. Their names may become household talk. If it is done in any way that is not with a spirit love for that person, this is wrong.

We might see the sins of others, but we never know whom God has determined to save. Even the most horrible sinners, even the greatest opponents may be those who are numbered amongst God’s elect. We remember the apostle Paul; he was one of the greatest persecutors of the Church. One never would have guessed him to be of the body of Christ. But yet, it was in God’s plan to convert him. And even the thief on the cross, unbelieving his whole life, was told by Christ at the time of his death, “today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

It is God’s place to judge others (Matt. 7:1). Only he alone knows who he has chosen to save, regardless of the evidence their lives may give us. It is our duty as unknowing pilgrims here on this earth to follow the example of the Good Samaritan and love our neighbors (Luke 10:27).

But now, lest this sound like a proclamation of tolerance to sin, the flipside must be remembered. We are called to love the sinner, but to hate the sin. We ought not speak ill or hatred of our neighbor, for we do not know their eternal end, but we are called to speak against sin, for in loving God we hate what displeases him, and in loving our neighbor we seek their spiritual good. We don’t know God’s plan for each other, but we do know the corruption and vileness of sin–even those “small” and “acceptable” ones–and must eschew it. We hate the sin, because we love God and our neighbor, and sin is both detrimental to the neighbor (and ourselves!) and displeasing to our Lord. Any actions that we take then, or words that we speak, are to be at their heart released out of love for God and love for our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39).

Readers, let us love one another! Let us seek good for each other and those around us! Let us not let God’s name be defiled, or his commands trodden by those around us–let us defend the Word, but let our steps be directed to the glory of our God. And what an amazing God we have, that he has in his grace chosen to save even us!

ADV