Thursday, October 09, 2014

CONNECTED IN SERVICE: Expressing God's Praise in Service

speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:19-21)

In all we do, our aim as the people of God is to glorify Him.  Service can be holy, or it can be hypocritical.  It may be that the outward manifestation appears good--in our giving, our praying, our fasting, and the like (see Matt.6:1-18)--but the inward motivation is bad: to be seen of men.  Our "service to God" becomes self-serving, and God doesn't judge by outward appearance. He looks at the heart (1 Sam.16:7).

Our singing should honor God.  Our aim is music that glorifies God.  It honors Him when it is given in a heartfelt desire to praise Him.  It is "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord"  We stir each other to join, and we instruct one another when the lyrics are full of Scripture.  Notice, there is a variety of types of music, "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" but a united passion to glorify God--not to be impressed by a musician's talent.

Sadly, too many Christians are more concerned with style than substance--too consumed with what blesses them than how they bless God.  It misses the whole point, doesn't it?  When we demand a particular preference or we pout, it ignores our call to submit to one another.  If an older generation wants Southern Gospel and stops singing when a contemporary song is shared, what does that communicate to the young members present?  It is self-serving.  If teens and young adults scorn the traditions of an older generation, refusing to participate in worship unless there is a wailing guitar and flashing lights, that too is self-serving.  Such attitudes--and I understand these are generalizations--are wrong.

Our speaking should honor God.  The objective is messages that glorify God.  Our mouths should continually express gratitude, "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  Complaints and criticisms are corrosive--eating away at the connection of believers to each other.  This is a self-serving attitude, that exhibits itself in our speech, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  On the other hand, a grateful soul expresses itself in thanksgiving--irrespective of the circumstances.  It is praise that is perpetual, "always," pervasive, "for all things," and pointed, "to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Our submitting should honor God.  The goal is ministry that glorifies Him, "submitting to one another in the fear of God."  When I stoop to serve fellow believers, I am actually serving Christ (read Matt.25:31-46).  Submission is not a popular concept in our world.  We assert our rights.  God wants us instead to assume our responsibilities.  How can I know if I have a heart submissive to God?  By my willingness to serve those made in His image.  What would our church gatherings be like if we connected in service?

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