to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (
2 Timothy 1:11)
Every time you turn the TV on, it seems there is another award show. You have the Oscars, the Emmies, and the Grammies. Then there are the Golden globe and People's Choice Awards. We are subjected to hours of celebrities stroking one another's egos.
The world has its standard of greatness. When we speak of Babe Ruth, we say he was a great baseball player. MacArthur was a great general. Edison was a great inventor. Our world measures greatness in terms of fame, popularity and achievement. But God's standard is different. When the disciples of Christ disputed about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God, Jesus taught, "He that is greatest is servant of all." Paul echoes that truth in this text.
In verse nine, Paul writes of the calling of the Christian servant. The call is commenced in the purpose of Jehovah. Before there was the problem of sin, God had already decreed the provision for sinners—Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. So salvation is not based on our performance and goodness, but on God's purpose and grace. Consider further that the call is communicated in the person of Jesus. God's purpose in eternity was revealed in history when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Never was the love of God more vividly communicated than at Calvary. Through Christ's death and resurrection we can live as Christ's servants.
Paul not only points out the calling of the Christian servant, but he indicates the commitment of the Christian servant in verse twelve. Paul is writing of his own commitment to serving God. It is one thing to hear God's call to service and quite another to heed it by obedience. Yet this is a divine duty. Paul had the sense that he was a man under authority. He recognized that he held a sacred stewardship. That is true of all God's children. Our commitment to the service of Christ is a divine duty. It is also to be a daily demonstration. Nowhere in the Bible do we read about taking a vacation from God's service. There is no retirement plan for the Christian until we get to heaven.
We have seen then, the calling of the Christian servant, and the commitment of the Christian servant. Let us not leave this text, however, before we consider the consolation of the Christian servant. Yes, the price we pay to serve Jesus may be high, but the consolation we have is worth it all. God had promised to reward His faithful servants. There is a present reward (v.8b). Paul testified how he had experienced God's power in the midst of his afflictions. In the gravest extreme of human poverty, one can receive the greatest exhibition of heavenly power. This is what the fellowship of Christ's sufferings can mean to us. Our consolation in Christ, however, is not just in a present reward, but in a promised reward (v.12). The day Paul was speaking about was that awesome Day of Judgment when believers appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the service that we have rendered to Him. Paul had given himself to laying up treasures in heaven and he believed Christ was keeping his investment secure.