In his sermon Marks of True Spiritual Service (Part 3), Pastor John MacArthur outlines for us Paul's teaching on true spiritual service. For the most part, these are things we already know, but perhaps need to be reminded of, or worked on.
First, we are all called to serve. Not just Paul. We may not have Paul's specific apostolic calling, or his particular gifts but we can mirror his attitude, motives and desires and serve in the areas God has called us to using the abilities He has gifted us with.
v9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son
is the key verse here. We don't want to serve God mechanically, or externally. We want to serve from a worshipful heart, internal desire resulting in service.
The first mark of true spiritual service is a thankful heart (v8). - thankful for other people, thankful for fellow servants of God, thankful for having the opportunity to serve.
The next mark of true spiritual service is a concerned spirit (v9b). Paul prayed for other believers constantly. We need to be thankful for what God has already done, but still deeply concerned for what has not been done yet in the lives of those around us.
Thirdly, a willing spirit (v10). Paul knew the Roman church had problems, so not only did he pray for them, but he was willing to be part of the answer. Are we willing to be used of God?
Fourthly, a submissive spirit. We need to be willing to be used by God, but only if God so wills and in the way He wants to use us. It is God's plan, not ours.
Fifthly, a loving spirit (v11). When we love someone, we want to give, we want to help them. Love seeks the best for others and is not concerned about getting or taking, but rather about giving. Selfless service.
Sixth, a humble spirit (v12). We don't think we have all the answers. Yes, we want to give to others and help them, but we also realize that they can be of comfort to us as well, we can learn from them as well. Teaching each other, learning together. Humble.
We also need a fruitful spirit (v13). The purpose of teaching is not teaching, it's fruit. The purpose of preaching is not preaching, it's fruit. The purpose of music is not music, it's fruit. The purpose of any ministry is not the function itself, it's the results, it's the product, it's the fruit.
Fruit is attitude. Galatians 5:22-23a But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
Fruit is also action, what we do. The fruit of our lips is praise. The fruit of our hands is giving. The fruit of righteousness is the behaviour of our lives. Are our lives bearing fruit?
Fruit should also be multiplied. In other words, we should work at bringing other fruitbearers into the kingdom, spreading the gospel.
MacArthur....Paul says my desire is to see believers with the right attitude, believers with the right holy life style and people added to the Kingdom.
Closely related to a fruitful spirit is an obedient spirit (v14). Paul had an obligation to fulfill and so do we. Whatever God has called us to do, we are obligated to do it. We are also obligated to preach teh gospel to those around us, no matter their rank in society.
And then we need an eager spirit (v15). Paul was consummed with the desire to do the work God had called him to do. Are we eager to serve? Are we eager to worship Sunday mornings, eager to study the Word, eager to grow in our faith, eager to step out in obedience? If it comes out of your heart, you're eager.
We need a pure, bold spirit (MacArthur adds the beginning of v16 in here as well) I am not ashamed of the gospel
I think we have a lot of people today who are ashamed of the gospel. We don't want to offend anybody and so we water down the gospel and don't talk about sin at all, just focusing on God's love. Yes, God is a God of love. But He is a holy God who does not, cannot, tolerate sin. And if we compromise the message we make is inoffensive, yes, but then we also make ineffective and useless. Never compromise. Never be ashamed.
Paul served with his spirit....he was bold and eager to preach out of a great debt to God and because he desired fruit and all of this was born out of a thankful, concerned, willing, submissive, loving, humble heart. He was unashamed.
Is that how you and I serve?
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 1:16-17