Servants of God

by Arthur Pink
October, 1944

The Christian bears a twofold fundamental relationship to God: he is a "son" and he is a "servant". The one speaks of privilege, the other expresses his duty. The one complements the other, and we should preserve a balance in our thinking upon them. The Christian was made a son; he made himself a servant.

He was a son from all eternity in the purpose of God, he became so actually at his regeneration. He was an enemy by nature and practice—but at conversion, he renounced the service of sin and Satan and took upon him the yoke of Christ—to henceforth own Him as his sole Lord and Master. Thus, we become God's servants by free contract, by a voluntary act of our own, by "giving ourselves" unto the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:11,12), to be controlled and directed by Him, to live now so as to honor and please Him in all things. Such unreserved dedication of ourselves unto God is our "reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). It is due to God as His creatures, for He made us. It is due Him as our Preserver and Provider, for we are dependent on Him for every breath that we draw. It is due Him by right of redemption, for the Christian is not his own—free to please himself—but has been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19,20); he is the purchased property of Christ.

God's rights over us are unmistakable and absolute—but He will have them acknowledged by our own consent; and therefore, we only become His servants professedly and truly, when we yield ourselves "unto God, as those that are alive from the dead," and our members (of both soul and body) "as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13), which was done at conversion, when we disowned sin, recognized the high claims of Christ, and received Him as our Lord and Master. Henceforth, we carry ourselves as His "servants" just in proportion as we live under a sense of our surrender to and dedication of ourselves to Him; or in other words, just so far as we now make the performing of His revealed will and the giving of pleasure to Him—the chief business of our lives, for a "servant" is one at the command of his master. The motive-springs of such service is gratitude unto Him—for as He died and suffered for us, with a realization of the obligations this imposed upon us—for He will only be served out of love. "What does the Lord your God require of you—but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut. 10:12).

God has joined these two things inseparably together: "Those who love me, and keep my commandments" (Exodus 20:6). The Lord Jesus enforced the same truth: "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). "You are my friends [all others are His enemies], if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14).

But Christ did more: He exemplified this truth in His own blessed person and perfect life. He voluntarily "took upon him the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:7) and manifested His entire subjection to God by becoming "obedient" to Him—an obedience without any reserve or limit, for He "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). Thus, a "servant" is known chiefly by his obedience: "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (Romans 6:16). Of Christ the Father declared, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; my elect, in whom my soul delights" (Isaiah 42:1). And why did the Father find such "delight" in Him? Because He loved righteousness, and hated wickedness (Psalm 45:7), because He could say "I do always those things that please him" (John 8:29).

And it is only as the Christian conducts himself as an obedient "servant" that he has fellowship with Christ, follows the example He has left him, and gives his Redeemer "delight." "For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Lev. 25:55). Mark it well, my reader: it was not only Moses and Aaron, or even the priests and Levites who were His "servants," but all the Israelites who had been redeemed from the house of bondage; and they were "servants" because He was the Lord their God. "Lord" and "servant" are correlative terms, as are husband and wife, parent and child. This holds good in the New Testament era as truly and fully as it did in the Old: all who have been genuinely converted and brought to receive Christ as their Lord—are His servants. This was foretold of old: "And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him" (Isaiah 56:6).

"Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Ephesians 6:6). "You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thessalonians 1:9). "Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God" (1 Peter 2:16). Even in Heaven, the saints shall still sustain this relationship and character: "His servants shall serve him" (Rev 22:3).

We have designedly added Scripture to Scripture in the last paragraph, because in some religious circles a "servant of Christ" is limited unto a minister of the Gospel, while in other sections of Christendom, "Christian service" is restricted to certain special activities which only a small number engage in—such as a Sunday School Class, tract distributing, speaking in the open air, engaging in "personal work." Thus, it is implied and actually believed by many that one may be a real Christian, and yet, not a "servant" of Christ at all. That is indeed a serious misconception, yes, a fatal delusion. It is indeed true that one may be a real Christian without engaging in any of the forms of "service" just mentioned, for they were quite unknown two centuries ago! But in the sense we have pointed out in the preceding paragraphs, unless I am consciously and conscientiously serving the Lord, then I am not a Christian at all. Lip patronage will not satisfy Christ, nor will the performing of tasks to which He has never called us. We must do the things He has commanded, render obedience to Him out of love, make it our constant concern to glorify Him, or we are not His servants—but rather the servants of our lusts and the bond slaves of Satan.

What an inestimable privilege, what a high honor to be the servants of the Lord of glory! "Happy are your men, happy are these your servants, which stand continually before you and that hear your wisdom" (1 Kings 10:8) exclaimed the queen of Sheba as she beheld those who waited upon Solomon. But one infinitely greater than Solomon is our Master, even Immanuel. He is no hard taskmaster (like the Egyptians) demanding that we make bricks without providing us with straw. No, His yoke is easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30). It is a blessed thing to serve Him, and His service is freedom—the only genuine freedom there is.

The service of Satan is captivity (2 Timothy 2:26), for though he and his emissaries may declare it is and promise us "liberty," yet all who heed his lies are "brought in bondage" (2 Peter 2:19); for the service of sin is drudgery, slavery, tyranny. Not only is Christ's service honorable and blessed—but it is richly recompensed both now and hereafter: "If any man serves me, him will my Father honor" (John 12:26) with peace of conscience, contentment of mind, joy of heart. And in the day of rewards, He shall say, "Well done, you good and faithful servant...enter you into the joy of your Lord" (Matthew 25:21).

A few words now upon the spirit and character of our service:

1) It must be in "newness of spirit" (Romans 7:6), for that which proceeds from the flesh is "dead works" (Romans 7:5). Our serving God is to express the new relation into which His wondrous grace has brought us, and issue from the enablement of the new power He has communicated to us—the indwelling Holy Spirit.

2) It must be rendered from love. It was so with the Lord of glory: "That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do" (John 14:31). In like manner, according to their much lower stature, it is said of His servants, "the love of Christ constrains us" (2 Corinthians 5:14).

3) It must be with cheerfulness: "Serve the Lord with gladness" (Psalm 100:2), whether it be in the kitchen or in the workshop. As Spurgeon says, "He is our Lord, and therefore He is to be served: He is our gracious Lord, and therefore to be served with joy."

4) It must be in a spirit of filial fear, owning the Lord's authority over us, venerating His majesty. Nehemiah prayed that the ear of the Lord might be attentive to the "prayer of your servants, who desire to fear your name" (Neh. 1:11) and David could say, "Establish your word unto your servant, who is devoted to your fear" (Psalm 119:38), while of the perfect Servant, it is recorded that He "was heard in that he feared" (Hebrews 5:7).

5) It must be with serenity of mind, and not in a slavish spirit of dread, either of God or man. "That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear [of His despising our poor efforts if they are sincere, or of the consequences from our fellows], In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life" (Luke 1:74, 75).

6) Without partiality: no license is given us to pick and choose, "Whatever he says unto you—do it" (John 2:5, compare Matthew 28:20).

7) Dependently: Definitely, earnestly, daily waiting upon Him for enabling wisdom and strength: see Hebrews 12:28 and 4:16.