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SELFLESSNESS IN SERVICE TO OTHERS

Posted by Job on March 1, 2007

Philippians 1:22-24 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

My last two devotionals, Keep Your Joy I and Keep Your Joy II, I discussed how a Christian can retain joy throughout trials by A) submission to and faith in God, B) realizing that your loss of joy is really a spiritual battle with Satan to keep you from serving and being blessed by God and being willing to fight it with spiritual means, and C) the best way to fight is by serving others. I will close the topic by providing Paul’s example of selfless service. In the verse above, Paul is clearly struggling to keep his joy. And who could blame him when you look at his fleshly existence? He was unmarried and had no children. He had given up his privileged position as both a Pharisee temple ruler and Roman citizen to become a scorned Christian. His friends and family had turned their backs on him. He had taken part in grueling, arduous sojourns all over the Roman Empire to spread the gospel, fulfill prophecies, and save his life. He had been beaten, imprisoned, and was at the time of his writing the letter to the Philippians in jail not knowing when or if he would ever regain freedom, or if he would be executed (as indeed he finally was). He had seen many of his friends imprisoned or killed, and no doubt was dealing with his own guilt over his role in killing Stephen and so many other Christians (his thorn in the flesh perhaps)? And worst of all, the churches that he had worked so hard to establish weren’t acting right. The Christians were walking in flesh and not by faith and therefore falling for practically every attempt to divide, distract, and infiltrate them.

Now just living day to day was a struggle for Paul. All the beatings, globetrotting, and imprisonments had clearly left a physical toll. All he had to do was give up, and he would have quickly succumbed to fatal disease. Further, his accusers were looking for any occasion against him to have him executed, which Paul had avoided using extremely convoluted and artful verbal and political maneuvering (in addition to plain simple old fashioned running and hiding!), and he merely had to stop or even be less effective in his machinations in order to be hung on a cross or beheaded. So, of course during this time, he was getting sick and tired of being sick and tired, and was having thoughts of just saying that he had done his part, and was ready to go to his reward in Heaven. Certainly had he lost his divine joy, he would have done so quickly. But that did not happen! He recaptured his joy! And he stayed and fought until the very end!

How did he do so? Philipians 1:24, TO ABIDE IN FLESH IS MORE NEEDFUL TO YOU! Paul received an energy boost, a joy vitamin which lead to his Holy Spirit filled renewal when he realized that he could give himself up and over to God by helping others! Now sure, Paul could have simply had faith that God was going to take care of the church; that he would find and raise up more leaders. But no, Paul did not pass the buck to anyone or even to God! There was a job to be done, and Paul decided to stay and do it! He chose to stay and fight to make sure that the job got done and done right on his watch himself! Paul knew that it was a critical time for the church. He wasn’t only concerned for the current believers. He wanted the church to be established and live with sound practices and doctrines until the triumphant return of Jesus Christ! And you know what? Paul did it! He did it with his letters to the churches that outlined in clear detail doctrine, theology, and even routine church operation. Paul saw the opportunity to serve others. He saw the opportunity to serve his brethren. He saw the opportunity to serve me and you. And he got his joy back!

Had Paul given up, given himself over to his fleshly needs instead of God’s desire for him, sure the church still would have survived. Sure, the New Testament would have been finished. But at what cost? Things could have been delayed, perhaps for centuries! At the very least, the person or people who would have had to take up Paul’s role were freed to do other tasks. Or, perhaps they got their trip to Heaven and left the persecution in Paul’s stead? Maybe Paul saw that he had strength that others might lack. He knew that he could take everything that Satan and his spirit and human minions could throw at him, crush them with the name of Jesus Christ, and emerge stronger and more ready to fight than before. But what of someone else? Could someone else take the heat and stand in the gap? Or would they enter into temptation and give up or compromise the message? Would they become another Saul, Hezekiah, Judas Iscariot, or Ananias? Even a temporary fall as what happened to David, Moses, Peter, Thomas, and all the other apostles and disciples save John could not be countenanced at this critical juncture! So Paul stayed to get the job done and get it done right!

Paul stayed and wrote letters upbraiding all the churches on their bad doctrine and practices. He wrote letters telling churches how to operate. He wrote letters sending strong leaders (and followers) to the various churches, and advising them who to work with, and exhorting the churches to accept them. Not only that, he detailed what spiritual, character, and background traits to seek in church leaders and followers! In other words, Paul got the job done not only for his brethren of the time but the ones who will certainly be his brethren in the Kingdom and in Heaven, including me and you if you have said the Salvation Prayer or some form thereof. Paul needed a reason to hang on, and found it in you and me. Can you do the same for your brethren and the ones to come after you, even in these last days?

And how many Christians are following that example? How many of us are willing to truly suffer adversity and trials until the job is done and victory is done for our fellowservants in Christ? How many of us are willing to give ourselves up for the sinners? For those who do not live in homes like ours or on our side of town? For those who do not look like us? For those who are not in our denomination and do not share our religious traditions? For our enemies? How many of us live in large homes and attend castle – like places of worship while there are people starving in the Third World? When there are people in need of housing, medicine, and childcare a few miles away? When there are people who desperately need to be saved from the lake of fire by having salvation through Christ Jesus? Who need the hope, joy, and power of the testimony? How many churches out there need the benefit of sound doctrine and operational assistance?Further, read the news, especially the international news from the Christian wire services. There are so many Christians all over the world being oppressed, imprisoned, and murdered for the testimony. Who is taking the stand for them that Paul took for us? Who is sending them Bibles and money? Who is going over there to preach, teach, and encourage them? Even those still over here, how often do we lift them up in prayer and spiritual warfare to break down the prince and stronghold demons of starvation, war, murder, rape, disease, false imprisonment, and oppression? God is very displeased with the self – centeredness of so many Christians. Our self – centeredness is why we get attacked so much, why we are beaten down so much, why we are so worldly, why we so lack joy and try to replace it with other things like titles, offices, materialism, politics, sports, contending, and even totally worldly sinful things. It is why we have so little power in the spirit realm that we cannot stand against so many of the wicked things going on in our churches and societies, from divorce to abortion to homosexual (open and otherwise) church officials to the secularism and humanism on the march to depravity that corporatism, unchecked greed and powermongering, oppressive governments, and globalization has wreaked on so many vulnerable people. Do we not know, do we not have faith that were we to stand for our brother, God will stand for us? But we are trying to stand for ourselves (and usually trying the wrong way) and both we and our brothers fall. Is this any way to prepare the church for the coming of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus? The Body of Christ needs to healed, is there no balm in Gilead for us? Yes there is; and it is finding our joy the same way that Paul did. To quote my Lord Jesus Christ, “You go then!”

Prayer:Father God in the name of Jesus Christ, may I be on the sidelines trying to tend to my own needs no more! May I instead go forth and serve others as you lead me to, and trust that you will take care of my needs! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

Deliverance:The demons that operate in this area are selfishness, ego, and self – centeredness. False religion, false doctrine, false teaching, and denominationalism, and nationalism also play heavy roles. Please read the Basic Spiritual Warfare guide to learn more about how to go against these demons to help set captives free and win battles in the name of your God through the power, authority, and victory given to you by his Son Jesus Christ and by his blood shed for you!

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