Pre-requisites of service

Dear BPCWAians, We will be having our yearly rededication of our life of service at the next Lord’s day. Many of us will be renewing our vows of service as we serve in various ministries and ways in His church. This yearly event should not be taken lightly. It is planned into our calendar for important reasons. So, what does God require of those who serve Him? What are the pre-requisites of service to God? How should I prepare myself?

What does God require of those who serve Him? We just saw last week that our Lord Jesus appeared to Joshua as Joshua was alone and thinking about how to do God’s work in taking the Promised Land (Josh 5:13-15). And the moment he knew it was the LORD of hosts who had come to him, he fell down on his face in worship. His first question after this was “What saith my lord unto his servant?” (Josh 5:14). Though Joshua knew it was God, yet he chose the word “my lord” which meant my master and my owner, and Joshua referred to himself as “his servant”. This meant that Joshua was thinking about a servant approaching his master to find out what his owner wants to say to him, i.e.  he was awaiting service-related instructions. Joshua was not thinking so much about God-creature worship instructions though he did worship the LORD here. How does God answer Joshua’s question then? Did He immediately tell Joshua what to do by going into the details of how to go about accomplishing the task before Joshua? Notice the account, “And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” (Josh 5:15). God’s first requirement was not for His servants to know what to do, though that is certainly important. But His first command is that they know they approach Him in service with the clear understanding that they stand before the holy God.

What are the pre-requisites of service then? The LORD’s first command was for Joshua to recognise and realise that he needs to be aware of the holy ground he stands on when coming into God’s presence. The removal of the shoes was (1) an act of being careful of his approach to the Holy God. This was the pre-requisite God put upon Joshua before He answered Joshua’s master- servant question about instructions about what to do. In other words, before God talked with Joshua about what He wanted Joshua to do, Joshua must know that he needs to be reminded that he is not to approach God, even in receiving instructions about service, in a careless manner. Joshua must not be nonchalant about his own state before God. This is not to say that we can be holy by our own merits. But the believer must be holy, as God is holy. Because we are already saved, we must seek to live holy lives. The same is expected before we serve the Holy God. (2) It was an act to ensure Joshua had a very high and holy view of even just approaching God to receive instructions as His servant. We can over time develop a casual and low view of serving God in His presence. That is perhaps why we become sloppy and lack diligence. We end up just getting things done to get them out of way.  Joshua could not afford  to be so because lives are at stake, not to mention the glory of God before  the heathens, and the plan of salvation for the whole world before and after his time. God made sure Joshua was very clear about these, before issuing any instruction as to how to do His work in conquering Jericho. This is a key reminder about the pre-requisites for those of us who are serving God in any ministry and in any way.

How should I prepare myself? God commanded Joshua to remove his shoes, “. . . And Joshua did so.” (Josh 5:15). Joshua was intent on serving God in his role assigned to him by God. Though alone, he was surveying Jericho. He was looking at Jericho walls, not Jordan river i.e. he was thinking about moving forward, not trying to retreat back to the eastern side of Jordan. However, despite his laudable intent, Joshua did not take serving God for granted. Sometimes, we may think that just because we are willing to serve God in what He puts in our hands, God is indebted to us. We may even think that the church needs us and so God needs us too. When we think this way, we almost think that service is a “favour” that we render to the church and to God. Joshua did as God commanded. He did not ignore God’s first statement and just continue to move towards Him, thinking lightly of that first statement issued by God. The verb “loose” is in the imperative command mode. This means God expects this as a pre-requisite, and it is not an optional choice for Joshua or any of   us. Joshua took note of it and quickly responded. It was an act of obedience to God’s reminder and Joshua acknowledged that he must not approach God without holiness. Like Joshua, those of us who are renewing our dedication to serve God must likewise take note of the pre-requisite to be clean vessels for God’s use. We can easily forget this pre-requisite as we serve day in and day out. This is a reason why we have the yearly reminder of Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”. It is abominable, and our service will amount to no spiritual usefulness if we do not ensure that we serve God with clean hands and pure hearts.

Prepare yourself before coming for the next rededication service. Go to God in prayer and ask God to search your heart and show you wherein you have continued to be disobedient to Him. Confess and repent of these areas, including those sins which you have already known that you have not bothered to deal with. Consider honestly and face your attitude, intents, and motives of serving God. Have you been a murmuring, unwilling, sloppy and slothful servant who failed in your diligence last year as you served? Do people need to keep reminding you about things? Are you more diligent about your schoolwork and job duties than your church duties? Are you just doing the minimum to get by so that you can have more time for yourself? Are there undealt with issues of pride, jealousies, bad temper, self-centeredness, attention-seeking? Do you have unconfessed, unrepented of sins that you love and would not deal with? Let each one of us go to God in prayer, examine ourselves, confess and repent and bear the fruit of repentance, daily moving forward as you serve Him by His grace. If you do, God will call us to approach Him and use you for His glory. What a privilege that would be in 2020.

2Tim 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work.

Yours in our Lord’s service,