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 (Manna 84: TJC at 100 – The Grace That Has Brought Us Here)
Serve Like Christ
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Steven Shek—Edinburgh, UK

INTRODUCTION

            The Lord GOD has opened My ear;

            And I was not rebellious,

            Nor did I turn away.

            I gave My back to those who struck Me,

            And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;

            I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

            For the Lord GOD will help Me;

            Therefore I will not be disgraced;

            Therefore I have set My face like a flint,

            And I know that I will not be ashamed. (Isa 50:5V7)

We might not immediately realize that this passage is about Jesus. But read in the context of both the Old and New Testaments—bearing in mind the persecution, pain, and humiliation Jesus suffered when He came to this world—we understand that this is a prophecy of what Jesus would experience.

We also may not realize that this passage bears relevance for us, as end-time believers. According to the Book of Malachi, today we are both sons of God and servants of God (Mal 1:6; 3:17). As we have this same Christ-like dual status, we need to also serve as Christ did—faithfully, even in the midst of suffering. It is an honor and a blessing to serve the Lord, but we may face many obstacles in our service. This is why we become easily discouraged, especially when our expectations do not line up with Gods intention. We may stumble or even throw in the towel after one too many disappointments. And if we experience suffering in our service, we may even succumb to self-pity.

But Jesus never had this kind of mindset; He never stumbled or gave up, no matter what He suffered. If we want to serve like Christ, then we must look closely at the above passage for insight into Christs servitude.

SPEAK GODS WORDS, NOT YOUR OWN

            The Lord GOD has given Me

            The tongue of the learned,

            That I should know how to speak

            A word in season to him who is weary.

            He awakens Me morning by morning,

            He awakens My ear

            To hear as the learned. (Isa 50:4)

When Jesus was in the world, He did not teach His own ideas; His teachings came from God (Jn 8:26, 40). Of course, Jesus is God Himself, but He was also fully man. Those who came to listen to Him saw Him as a mere man, a servant of God. Only by faith could they recognize that Jesus teachings were indeed the messages of God.

In Deuteronomy, God promised that He would raise up a Prophet like Moses, who would speak what God commanded Him (Deut 18:15). And later, in the time of Acts, Peter explained what would happen to those who rejected the Prophets message:

For Moses truly said to the fathers, The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:22V23)

Jesus was that very Prophet, and He wanted the people to understand how important it was to heed His words. He spoke the truth not to condemn, but to bring salvation. So Jesus spoke with the tongue of the learned, in the words of Isaiahthat is, He did not rely on human eloquence, but on the authority of the truth. His intention was to turn people to God, so that they could repent and be strengthened. It was a heavenly message for a heavenly cause.

When we attempt to teach and guide others, do we rely on our own eloquence, or do we rely on the simple and powerful authority of Gods word? Do we use human reasoning when we seek to edify, and human insight when we plan our mission work? Or do we seek biblical guidance? To serve like Christ means we must first awaken our ear to Gods messageto hear as the learnedbefore we can speak with the tongue of the learned.

SERVE WITH COMPASSION

The service Jesus offered the people was in stark contrast to that of the spiritual leaders of the time.  The Pharisees and the scribes looked down upon sinners, those most in need of their help, as illustrated in the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee (Lk 18:9V14). While the tax collector stood at a distance, in shame, the Pharisee self-righteously lifted himself above the tax collector. The Pharisee never considered how difficult it might be for the sinner to come before God.

In contrast, when Jesus looks at a person, He does not look at his outward appearance; He looks at the heart. He considers his situation. He looks past his fault and sees his needs. He would not so much as extinguish smoking flax (Isa 42:3). When Jesus sees the weary, He is moved to help them.

What would we do if we see a brother who appears to be spiritually lazy? He may come to church services late or go about his church work half-heartedly. Our natural reaction may be to criticize him. But have we considered the unseen troubles he may be facing? Perhaps he is trying his best under difficult circumstances. Obviously, we should point out any blatant wrongdoing. But as servants of God, we need to have a compassionate heart and seek to understand the context before we speak, otherwise we could cause that person to stumble.

For example, think about how we react when a family member neglects his share of the housework. We would say, Why arent you helping? Dont you see how much there is to do? Youre so lazy! Such an emotional reaction is understandable, but we need to look beyond our emotions and try to understand the other persons situation. Perhaps he is depressed, or simply too tired, physically, to help with the chores. Likewise, the spiritually inert member may be weary and in need of strengthening. No matter what, he needs some understanding.

In times of hardship, it is comforting when someone understands what we are going through. Jesus can sympathize with us because He suffered and was tempted just as we are (Heb 4:15). He came to help the weary. Often, we say to Jesus, I am tired and weak; have mercy on me. We know how to advocate for ourselves before God. But as Gods servants, we also need to show this same love and mercy to other people. This means overcoming our natural tendency to be self-centered.

WAKE UP TO GOD

When Jesus was on earth, He was awakened morning by morning (Isa 50:4). As He woke from physical sleep, His heart and ears were also awakened, so that He could hear as the learned. He did not wake up to Himself, to do His own thingsHe woke to the Father. Each morning, He was ready to go to the Father to learn, and the Father was ready to teach Him.

When we wake up, how do we approach the day? As a parent or a teacher, we may endeavor to teach our children, but nothing seems to work. We get frustrated, our children get frustrated, and our relationship with them suffers. But each morning, we have two options: either we wake up to ourselves, or we wake up to God. If we commit to following the Fathers teaching, instead of following our heart and feelings, then we will be better equipped to teach our children and serve our family.

Every day, Jesus woke up to the same peopleHis disciples. They were able to perform signs and miracles, and even share His teachings. Yet they would quarrel among themselves and argue over who was the greatest. It would have been natural for Jesus to wake up thinking, Ah, this hopeless bunch; theyve walked with me for years and yet they havent changed. But did Jesus have this kind of heart? Of course He did not.

Jesus compassion and mercy are new every morning (Lam 3:22V24). So when we wake up to the Father, we must give others the same chance. Just as God has given us so much love, support, and time to change, we should give others the same.

SPEAKING IN TRUTH AND LOVE

Jesus sees our weaknesses and knows that we are but dust. But His compassion only goes so far. When we are weak and turn away from Him, He does not say, Shes having a tough time; let it go. Shes not in the right frame of mind; her heart is elsewhere. When we are lost and following the world, Jesus does not keep silent. He warns us.

Jesus spoke out when He was with the tax collectors and the prostitutes. Even though He was friendly with them, He told them that they needed to repent. Only if they would change and come to Him would He give them eternal life. Jesus is faithful; He sympathizes with our weaknesses, but He wants us to be reconciled with God. He speaks to us through different peoplethose who understand what we are going through but are compelled to speak when they see how we have neglected our spiritual life.

When Jesus taught, He did not teach as the scholars did. He spoke the word of God with authority, but He also had love. He was kind, but firm. Is this not what we need in the family of God? Would we rather have others express the truth through genuine love, or have them hide it out of discomfort or fear of offense? Jesus always gives us true love, even though the truth sometimes hurts.

In the true church, we do not want to mollycoddle each other by only speaking pleasing words. Only through hearing the truth can our hearts truly change. The easy option is to say what the other person wants to hear, but that may not enable him to draw closer to God.

Jesus was not sent to speak Gods words only to those willing to hear, but also to those who were unwilling. If it had been us, we might have asked, Why send me to someone who wont listen to me? You know that they wont listenwhat is the point? But Jesus did not speak with partiality or personal preference. He treated everyone the same, even those who might have made Him feel uncomfortable. He reached out to everyone, even though He was rejected by His own people. He did not rebel against His mission to offer eternal life to all (Isa 50:5).

Are we only kind to those whom we love? How do we treat those we do not like very much, or who reject us? If we submit to our mission, as Christ did, we would not turn away from anyone.

Today, to serve like Christ is to serve with love. To love is to act without expectation of repayment or reward. If a friend places great importance on every gift being reciprocatedremarking on every dinner bill they pick up that is not promptly followed by a favor in returnhow long would this friendship last?

Our Lord Jesus does not keep scoreHe gives freely, in the hope that we will learn to be like Him. Today, as servants in Gods household, do not seek or expect repayment for doing good. Do not look for results that show our investment was worth it. Jesus never served for His own satisfaction; He served to glorify the Father, and to further His mission.

SERVE IN SPITE OF SUFFERING

            I gave My back to those who struck Me,

            And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;

            I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

            For the Lord GOD will help Me;

            Therefore I will not be disgraced;

            Therefore I have set My face like a flint,

            And I know that I will not be ashamed. (Isa 50:6V7)

These two heart-wrenching verses reveal Jesus sacrificial heart. While many people repay good with evil, Jesus did the opposite. He never turned away from being the Savior of the world, no matter what He suffered. He gave His whole heart and His whole self to His work. And He was resolved to complete His mission, despite knowing that He would suffer and be rejected, even to the point of death.

Why do we sometimes find ourselves unwilling to preach the gospel? Maybe we are afraid of how people will react. Why are we sometimes afraid to tell the truth to our friends or brothers and sisters? Because we are afraid of how they will react. One who is deceived and has turned away from the truth will only have the chance to repent when the truth is spoken to them. So why would we withhold the truth? Even if they turn against us, at least we have tried. But if we let fear of suffering stop us from speaking the truth, then we have not done our best.

Jesus was disgraced; He was nailed on the cross as a sinner and mocked. He gave everything He had, completely and without reservationHe owed nothing more to God or the people. Even though He suffered greatly, Jesus knew that it was only for the short term. He understood that the joy that would come afterwards would be everlasting (Heb 12:2).

If we fight for the truth and speak the truth, we may be rejected by our friends and family. But if we set our hearts to do Gods will and stand for the truth, we will have done our part. We may suffer misunderstandings, but God will remember and help us. He is the One who justifies us. If we hold fast to the truth, eternal life will be ours.

CONCLUSION

When Jesus was in this world, He did not withdraw from uncomfortable and challenging situations. He faced them head on and spoke the truth, so that there would be no confusion or uncertainty. Only then would people have the chance to escape from the grasp of the devil.

If we understand and speak the truth, then we show ourselves to be true servants of God. If we look to God for teaching and compassion every morning, and we speak His words in the face of rejection and suffering, then we will be able to serve like Christ. And at the end of our service on earth, we will gain the joy that awaits us in heaven.

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Author: Steven Shek
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 12/08/2017
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