Ephesians 4:7-16; Good stewards of Christ’s gifts serve with joy and peace, part 2.
length: 64:27 - taught on Sep, 16 2021
Thursday September 16, 2021
A word of caution as we are once again pressed by the word of God into a life of work and service to others. It is to be a life of joy and fulfillment and peace and gratitude and love. What I’m saying, what God is saying, is that it is to be fun.
We must avoid compulsion and duty. The work is to be rewarding. We must keep seeking the satisfaction and joy that comes from the power of the HS within.
It is inevitable that some, if not all, will find themselves working for God under compulsion and duty without experiencing any joy or pleasure in the work. This has been common in the church that the believer hears or reads of the work of service required of him and he or she sets off on a hard trail of duty as if under the law of Moses and without joy or divine power. No doubt that such a person has not left this world in his conscience and sought the kingdom of God of which he is now an eternal member.
There is to be joy in the work, often depicted in the Old Testament as the threshing floor when the harvest is in and the grain is being purified. The work itself is to be rewarding, and as Peter states in 1Pe 5, the minister who is not under compulsion, but eagerly serves, will receive the unfading crown of glory. There is great reward, and the old life, the old self, the old world, has to be laid aside. Therefore, it is inescapable that we keep seeking to find that power and satisfaction that only comes from the filling of the Holy Spirit within.
Conflict over what was proper to eat and drink was an issue in the early church. Paul dealt with it through the law of love.
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God."
12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this — not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.
He then concludes with the substance of the kingdom of God, of which all believers are a part.
Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
In this instance Paul is telling us that we must sacrifice something legitimate (in this case food sacrificed to idols) that would cause our brother to stumble. Paul’s conclusion has a wonderful, eternal echo, which is that the kingdom of God, which each believer is a member of, does not consist of eating or drinking. It is the same as Christ said, “do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing” (MAT 6:25)? The kingdom of God is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Christ told us to seek this first and then … (all these things will be added to you). But don’t miss the point that in this world, while we are here, we will be called as good stewards of the manifold grace of God that gave us our ministry and our gifts, to sacrifice some of these earthly things that have been added to us by that grace, and that, we must not do grudgingly, but will all joy, hence the non-stop seeking of the power of the Holy Spirit by faith.
For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
We must remember that God doesn’t need our help. God works all things. He is not less without us, nor more with us. He didn’t make the universe, the angels, the earth and all of mankind to meet some unfulfilled need in Himself, as a man might build a house to shelter him in the winter cold or plant a field of corn to provide him with necessary food. The word necessary is wholly foreign to God. God does not need defenders. Angels do not have to guard His throne. We need God. God does not need us. We have been made to trust in Him and rely upon Him fully, and Him alone. This is why the Bible has so much to say about the vital place of faith and why it brands unbelief as a deadly sin. We dare not trust in ourselves or this world.
Christ’s joy made full in us as we lay down our lives for others.
"By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. 11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. 12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 "You are My friends, if you do what I command you. 15 "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. 17 "This I command you, that you love one another.
We have to remember that Christ is God. “The Man who walked among us was a demonstration, not of unveiled deity but of perfect humanity. The awful majesty of the Godhead was mercifully sheathed in the soft envelope of human nature to protect mankind.” [A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy] Though Christ limited Himself in the flesh, risen in glory and ascended, He is limited no more. We need to rebuke all self-confidence in our flesh and put all confidence in Him. This truth when viewed in its biblical perspective will lift our minds from the exhaustion of mortality and encourage us to take the easy yoke of Christ and spend ourselves in Spirit-inspired toil for the honor of God and the good of mankind. The blessed good news is that God who needs no one has in sovereign condescension stooped to work by and in and through His obedient children. So, go and do, and expect Him to work through you to His glory, though He doesn’t need you or the work, but is revealing Himself to someone else who needs Him, and in so doing, He will reveal Himself even more to you.