Serving GodHe knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Job 1: 9: "Has not Job good reason to be God-fearing."
When you read of Job's righteousness and his great wealth, you might wonder what possible fault
could be found in a man who is religious and prosperous.
But the cynic can always find fault.
The cynic is a person whose idealism has disappeared.
He finds a basis for criticism and will find something to criticize in every genuine good action
of one who serves faithfully and with dedication.
The cynic is Satan, and he is the accuser.
His name means "adversary", which is a very descriptive title.
The critic usually has two major approaches.
One is a blunt instrument that he uses, such as a meat-axe, which he crudely uses to chop away at his victim.
He also uses skill and finesse.
Usually, this is done with a simple question which is skillfully used.
If he cannot discount the obvious godliness of a person, he can devaluate the worth of the conduct by raising
a doubt as to the motive which prompts the action.
Job is the one accused.
Satan is out to get Job.
This ancient patriarch had fabulous wealth.
We read that his personal possessions consisted of 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen,
and 500 donkeys.
Job is described as "the greatest of all the people to the east." (Job 1: 3)
Job's family was such a joy to him.
Job had seven sons and three daughters.
It was a pleasure for him to have his children around him.
Each day Job prayed for his children while they feasted.
Eliphaz had this to say about Job as a good neighbor: "You have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees."
(Job 4: 3-4)
You would be happy to have a neighbor like Job.
It is understandable why God could say, "Have you considered my servant Job,that there is none like him
on the earth, a blameless upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?" (Job 1: 8)
Hate will always find a way.
An old saying states that "Love will find a way."
Often, the opposite is true.
No one is perfect.
If anyone's character is thoroughly tested, someone will find some weakness even in the strongest character.
One lady was heard to say about another lady whom she disliked,
"I didn't say I despised her.
I just said that the only polish she has is on her fingernails."
Satan personifies all that is evil in this universe.
He is our enemy, our adversary, and our accuser.
He despises God, and anyone who belongs to God.
He is the ultimate critic believing that every person will sell out to him if the stakes are high enough.
Satan is always raising doubts about righteousness and righteous people.
To Eve in the garden he asked, "Did God say?" (Genesis 3:1)
To Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, Satan asked, "If you are the Son of God..." (Matthew 4: 3)
To the Lord, he cleverly suggested, "Does Job fear God for naught?" (Job 1: 9)
Is this a fair question? Of course it isn't!
Satan never plays by the rules.
When you read the story of Job, you will find that other similar questions are raised.
For instance, some years ago experts discovered that a woman would pay $2.50 for a jar of cold cream,
- Questions such as, will a man be faithful to his godly convictions when dishonor, pain,
and even disgrace seem to be the result of his righteousness?
- Questions such as this attempt to analyze our motivations.
Why do we act as we do in any situation?
but would only pay 25 cents for a bar soap.
Why would she do so?
It was because that soap only promised to make her clean.
The cold cream promised to make her beautiful.
The woman was buying a promise.
One advertising executive said:
"People do not buy orange juice. They buy vitality.
Cosmetic manufacturers are not selling make-up. They are selling hope.
People do not buy an automobile. They are buying prestige."
Although Jesus emphasized the inner thought much more than the outward act; He also talked about
the motive which prompts the deed.
Many are afraid to look deeply within for fear that they may see something they do not like.
Henry Van Dyke did not overlook inner motivations and outward acts when he listed four things
that a person must do.
"Four things a man must learn to do,
If he would keep his record true;
To think without confusion clearly
To love his fellowman sincerely
To act from honest motives purely
To trust in God and heaven securely."
It isn't easy to keep our motives completely pure.
In fact, it is not only difficult; it may be impossible.
None of us are exempt from improper motivations.
Why do you serve?... teach... preach... etc.
Why do you tithe your income to the Lord's work through the church?
Some will have to admit that they fear if they do not tithe, God will collect it some other way.
Then there are those who believe that their profits will be higher if the tenth is given to the church.
They see this as a kind of protection against adversity.
A processor was addressing a group of rural preachers in a retreat for pastors.
He pointed out to them that it was closer to the spirit of the New Testament to tell people
they should bring their tithes and offerings because they love God and His work than it was
to threaten them that if they didn't tithe the Lord might kill their best cow.
One of the preachers replied: "I guess that is true.
But it sure takes the teeth out of some of my sermons."
There are so many ways the Lord can pour out blessings to a family besides more material possessions.
God can give a family a happy home and children who are faithful Christians.
There is no absolutely unerring solution to the problem of pure motives.
In this world we know in part, and we behave in part.
All of our motives are intermingled.
George Butterick said: "Our best intentions are streaked with a base alloy, but they are not all base!
Education by violence may still educate."
How far can we go in serving God through fear?
There are many who become Christians because of the motivation of fear.
They do not want to die and go to hell.
So, they repented of sin and received Jesus as Savior.
This is a legitimate motive.
Jesus warned, "How are you to escape being sentenced to hell?" (Matthew 23: 33)
Paul said, "Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men." (2 Corrinthians 5: 11)
As we grow older in years and in Christian maturity, we recognize that the motivation to serve
must be deeper if our service is to be rendered consistently.
The Christian life must become the life of love.
Jesus said, "There is no room for fear in love; perfect love banishes fear.
For fear brings with it the pains of judgment, and anyone who is afraid has not attained to love
in its perfection." (1 John 4: 18, NEB)
Phillips paraphrases these words as "love contains no fear -- indeed fully developed love expels
every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty."
How can we love supremely?
How can our love become the constraining force for dynamic devotion?
The answer is that our love is not adequate of itself.
It never can be.
Paul said, "For the love of Christ controls us." (2 Corrinthians 5: 14)
The emphasis of the Greek translation is "It is not our love for him that motivates,
but rather his love for us."
"My love is oft times low,
My joy still ebbs and flows;
But peace with Him remains the same,
No change my Savior knows,
I change: He changes not,
God's Christ can never die;
His love not mine, the resting place,
His truth, not mine, the tie."
-- Horatius Bonar
Our fellowship of Christ becomes so meaningful and selfless when it is based all love and love alone.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White was adapted from several sources