By Fred Jeffery
You have labored a long time in trying to serve the Lord but yet your heart was in turmoil. Sometimes along the way you became lukewarm in your service. Do you know the feeling to be lukewarm in your commitment to the Lord? What does this look like in practical terms?
In Revelation 3:14-22 we read where the Lord is speaking to the church of the Laodiceans, one of seven churches that the Lord is most concerned about. Perhaps we call ourselves by another name in today’s family of churches but let us look at ourselves through the mirror of God’s reflection and see how we stand up to His scrutiny.
The Lord says that he knows all about us. That means no matter how we try to hide our true nature from Him, the Lord sees us as we truly are. This was true of the members of the early church in the city of Laodicea. In verses 15 and 16, the Lord says: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Wow, does that get our attention or not? Does this same message summarize our current standing with the Lord? This sounds like a half-hearted Christian who rises with the tide of being truly committed then falls when the going gets tough, overcome by adversity, trials or temptations that come their way.
This is the group who feel that they have it all together. They have everything they need to make them happy-gold, silver, fine homes, great jobs, good pensions, standing and respect from others in their community so they can afford to pay lip service to those who need a helping hand. However, something is seriously lacking. The Lord referred to this group of followers as neither hot nor cold in their service to Him. Does that sound familiar? Do you hear the bell ringing in your ear saying: “that’s about how best to describe me in my Christian faith?”
The Lord speaks directly to this group and lays it out quite strongly in verse 17. “You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing but you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
We are talking here about how we stand before the Lord. Perhaps we are like a character named Eliab an older brother to the young David, both sons of Jesse. Eliab was brought before the prophet Samuel who was tasked to choose and anoint a successor to King Saul. When Samuel saw Eliab he thought surely this is the man God has chosen to lead his people Israel as the next king for his appearance and his stature really impressed Samuel. “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” (1 Samuel 16:6)
Perhaps at times we feel so secure in our calling that we fail to humble ourselves before the Lord. We are wonderful in our own eyes and it’s just too bad that others don’t see us the same way. “Choose me God, for I have just what is needed to make an impact.” Eliab had made a strong impression upon Samuel.
However, the Lord thought otherwise and said to Samuel: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) Samuel went through all the seven sons of Jesse who were brought before him that day but chose none of them. It was only when Samuel asked if all his sons had been presented that he got the answer that the youngest son, only a boy named David had not been brought before him. When David appeared before Samuel, the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for he is the one.”
We become chosen by God “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6) The Lord chooses us when we are humble in spirit with a true and sincere desire to reach out and touch others who look to us for help-a word of encouragement to the lonely and broken hearted, to use our abundant supply of resources to clothe and feed those needing assistance. Service to others means that we listen to the heart of God and then reach out to others with a pure and sincere heart. When we see ourselves in the sight of God, only then can we to put on His robes of righteousness.
Jesus said: “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline, so be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:19-20) This is the heart of service.
Fred Jeffery is a retired teacher and a member of the Salvation Army in Pictou County.