If we are not careful, Christians can begin to suppose that we serve others in order to get something else. But as Jesus instructed the church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13), the reward for clinging fiercely to God’s grace is the opportunity to give grace.
Set Proper Goals
The world and our own fleshly (sinful) nature suggest goals to us that would distract us from our calling, but the believer sets deliberate goals that reflect his calling. One goal for the believer is that he be kept from falling away, from apostasizing. Jesus says that those who “keep his word” he will keep from apostasy. God does not promise to keep believers from suffering, but he does promise to keep us from surrendering.
It may seem contrary to humility, but the believer should additionally seek the proper reward that God has promised. For instance, Jesus tells believers to “hold fast what you have” so that no one can seize their crown. What crown? Context suggests that the believer’s “crown” is his ability to serve fruitfully in the kingdom, much like the church’s “lampstand” represents the privilege of engaging in gospel ministry.
See the Priority of Grace
Neither churches nor individual believers are able to do anything productive in the kingdom of God without his prior grace. Jesus tells faithful believers that even their opponents will see what he does through them and recognize “that I have loved you” (Rev. 3:9). Jesus loves first. He indicates that it is he who establishes opportunities and thus direction for believers, because he has “set before you an open door” (Rev. 3:8). Jesus hangs doors. And stimulating the believer’s God-given desire for permanence and inclusion in the glory of God, Jesus reminds believers “I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God” (Rev. 3:12). Jesus builds temples.
God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, is the initiator of every good thing and every pure motive and every gospel opportunity for both churches and individuals who hold fast to his word.
Make Sure to Grasp
Jesus describes the believers at Philadelphia as those who kept his word, who did not deny his name, and who kept his word about patient endurance. How often our individual and corporate ministries falter, our influence wane, our message fail, because we have failed to grasp the Word of God and of Jesus Christ?
To grasp the word of Christ requires that we know what it is, that we acknowledge its truth, that we trust its power, and that we proclaim its worth.
In this way we understand that the reward of service to the Lord is the privilege and opportunity to engage in more service to the Lord. The reward of serving others is to continue serving others.
Service for the Christian is not drudgery to be endured in order to, gain something better, but is training to be welcomed in order to be something better.
The reward of clinging fiercely to God’s grace is dynamic gospel ministry.
- To Please the Lord, Set Proper Goals
- Being Kept
- Being Crowned
- To Please the Lord, See the Priority of Grace
- Jesus Loves First
- Jesus Hangs Doors
- Jesus Builds Temples
- To Please the Lord, Make Sure to Grasp the Word