Devotional: The Service of Christ
Last summer, I took a few months off from writing devotionals after I had Wesley. After some time of settling into my new role as a mom, I knew that I was in a place where I could begin writing again, but in all honesty, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to. I confided in a Godly sister in Christ that I was struggling with feeling like my efforts were not valued by anyone and that I wasn’t receiving the recognition that I felt I deserved. As I write this, I am ashamed of my self-serving attitude, but I am grateful for how the Lord used this sister in Christ to convict me of my selfishness. She said, “Gabby, I want you to tell me who you are writing for. Are you writing for yourself, or are you writing for Jesus?” If I am still being honest, I didn’t really want to hear her question. My selfish heart wanted to push her away and list all of the reasons why I was justified in not wanting to continue writing. But thankfully, the Lord worked through that conversation to soften my heart and I was humbled as I reflected on who I write for and why.
I was reminded of this conversation on Sunday as I listened to Pastor Barry’s sermon on the joy we have in service. Each week during the sermon, there is usually a specific point or part of the message that stands out to me. This week, I found myself thinking about Epaphroditus and how Paul described him in the passage from our scripture reading. Paul says in Philippians 2:25-27 that he felt it was necessary to send Epaphroditus because he had been longing for them and was distressed that they heard he was ill. Paul goes on to confirm that Epaphroditus was ill; so ill that he almost died. And yet, Epaphroditus’ concern was for the people of Philippi. Pastor Barry noted that although we are not provided with the context regarding what happened to Epaphroditus, we know that whatever his affliction was, “it nearly took his life and even then, he was Christ like. He was willing to risk his life for the sake of the gospel.” Pastor Barry went on to explain that servants of Christ (including Epaphroditus) are empowered to live sacrificially through the sacrifice of Jesus. We, as servants of Christ, are able to serve sacrificially because He has done it all for us. “Christ accomplished it all. He did it all for us. And so, our risk is nothing. We know that he risked everything, and he lived the perfect life that you and I should have lived and died the death that you and I should have died and bore the wrath and curse of God for our sin and rose again so that we can risk everything without fear.” When we realize that all of our needs are met in Christ, we experience the freedom that enables us to serve willingly, joyfully, and sacrificially through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When I was struggling with not wanting to write devotionals, I was focused on myself. I was living apart from God as if I was the one responsible for securing my salvation and protecting myself. I wanted to feel justified by the approval of others and was frustrated that my efforts felt unappreciated. But through the question of my sister in Christ, I was reminded that I am not responsible for securing my salvation, nor am I justified through the approval of others – I have been justified through the blood of Jesus and his sacrifice alone has secured my salvation. Praise be to God! If it were up to me, I would be doomed to suffer in eternity, but the Lord has provided me with a savior who loves me and pursues me. Being reminded of this brought me to a place of humility where I was convicted of my selfishness, but it also reminded me of the joy that I have in Christ – the joy in my salvation and in His pursuit of me. He created me for a purpose and loves me and has called me His own, adopting me as His precious and beloved daughter. This is not something I deserve or have earned; it is given freely because of the sacrifice of Jesus. How could my heart not respond in joyful service?
There are still times when I find myself grumbling or complaining about the things I am called to do. Ashamedly, I must admit that there have been times when I have even wallowed in my selfishness, resisting the Lord and His call to find refuge in Him. But I am thankful for the Lord’s convictions and for sermons like the one from Sunday, to remind me of the joy that I am, not only called to, but have been given through the grace and mercy of our savior, Jesus Christ. We have been given the freedom to love and serve others sacrificially and joyfully through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us. Brothers and sisters, if you struggle to find joy in serving others, will you join me in praying that the Lord would remind us of the joy and freedom we have in Christ? Let us seek Him, that we might be living examples of Christ, like Epaphroditus, in joyful service to our King.
Photo Credit: Tim Wildsmith