Pleasing Our Master
There is always a compensating reward of joy and peace that comes from obeying God.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right? I’m so glad to be back with you and I want to turn immediately to Romans chapter 14. And you and I just were finishing up verse 17 the last time we got together, “the kingdom of God,” the proof, in other words, that God is running your life, “is not meat and drink,” in other words, things you do to be officially religious. The proof that God is running your life does not lie in the things you do to be officially religious. That’s my Cook paraphrase of that group of words.
But instead, the proof that God is running your life is found in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. These are the three points of index which measure the degree to which God is your King, the degree to which God is running your life. Righteousness, first of all. There is no Christ-filled God honoring life which at the same time is unrighteous. You can put it down. Jesus our Lord said “ye cannot,” He didn’t “ye must not,” He said “ye cannot serve God and mammon” and “no man can serve two masters.” It’s impossible.
Years ago as a worked with Dr. and Mrs. Cory at Scripture Press, I had opportunity from time to time to chat with them about the things the Lord had done in their lives. On one occasion, I asked Mrs. Cory to tell me how it was that she had been brought to trust Christ as Savior. The story went something like this. As a college graduate and properly trained public school teacher of English, she also had many ambitions for her life and she had a keen desire to enjoy everything that the world had to offer.
The claims of Christ as presented in the gospel messages that she heard from time to time conflicted with these desires and so she tried vainly to reconcile the two concepts. She tried, in other words, to live for Christ well having one foot, so to speak, in the world. You know, of course, that that doesn’t work. She had to find it out for herself. And while she was in the process of finding it out for herself, she vigorously defended that point of view saying, “Well, isn’t it possible to take Christ with you to these different occasions and so on?”
She, as many others before, and since have done. She defended the idea of having one’s own way living in the world and at the same time professing allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, one day, as she was discussing all of this with a relative of hers, this cherished aunt said to her, said “Bernice, look up such and such a verse.” And she referred her to the verse that says, “No man can serve two masters,” “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” And so when Mrs. Cory had read these verses for her auntie, that dear old lady said, “Now, does that say you must not?” “No,” said the English teacher. “It says you cannot. It’s not a matter of a directive; it’s a matter of saying that it’s not really possible.” And all of a sudden she saw the truth of that Scripture. It’s not that you mustn’t serve two masters; it’s not that you mustn’t dabble with the world and selfishness and sin and at the same time profess to serve God; it’s just that you can’t do both. And when she saw it, she told me, she gave her heart completely – her life, her lifestyle, and all that she was, she gave it completely to the Lord Jesus Christ and launched on a life of service for Him.
Righteousness – God doing and saying and thinking and purposing the right thing through you. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,” says Paul in Romans 8. What God wants to do is to take His nature and make it real in and through you. This happens when you trust Christ the Savior and Lord and the blessed Holy Spirit begins to reduplicate in you the qualities of your Blessed Savior. Righteousness and peace, the unruffled quality of being in perfectly right relationship with the one who’s running things, and joy, the byproduct of a right relationship with God is joy.
Better than happiness. Happiness depends on circumstances but joy is that ineffable sense of well-being that comes when you are right with your Lord. And these, then, become the evidences that God is King–that He is running your life. Now there’s a verb in the next verse, verse 18, that gives you the key to making this all real in your own life. Let’s look at it, shall we? “The kingdom of God is not the things you do to be officially religious but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost for,” this is verse 18 now, “for he that in these things,” in what things? Righteousness, peace, and joy, “He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”
“He that in these things,” in righteousness, in peace, in joy, “serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved by people.” Now, how do you make it real, then, in your life? You know, of course, and I do too, that we could talk about this ad infinitum and it would never make any difference in your lifestyle. So you see, the key to it all is found in that verb “serve.” When you look it up in your Greek lexicon, it’s the verve “douleuete” which means “serve like a slave. Slavery was, in those days, a fact of life. Thank God we don’t have slavery in our culture any longer.
But in those days when the Bible was being written, when Paul was writing his letters, slavery was an accepted fact of life. And so there was a verb to describe how a slave worked. The noun was “douleias,” “slave.” The verve was “douleuete,” “to work like a slave”. And that’s the verve then that Paul uses here. “The person who in these things, righteousness, peace, and joy works like a slave for Jesus is acceptable to God and approved of men.” You want people to approve you? Here’s the way to do it. You want God to accept you? Here’s the way to do it. That’s what Paul says.
Now, how do you go about this? A slave is always subservient to his master’s desires. Humanly speaking, you could make that statement even stronger and use the word “even whims” because many a master would order a slave to do something just on a whim, just on a vague thought rather than a well-thought out series of orders. A slave is always subservient to what his master wants. Okay, “He that in these things, then, is always subservient to what his master wants.” That’s the way to read it. Well, what things? Righteousness.
Now, how do you make yourself subservient to what your Lord wants in this matter of righteousness? Well, first of all, you find out, don’t you? That’s where the Bible comes in. Why should you read your Bible day by day? To find out what your master wants, to get, so to speak, your marching orders for the day, to find out what pleases Him and what displeases Him, to find out what you ought to do that will fulfill His purpose for you. Read your Bible not simply as a devotional exercise but to find out what God wants you to do. I find it very helpful when reading the Word of God to have a note paper or a notebook handy together with a pen or pencil and as I read to jot down the thoughts that come to me, perhaps not at all connected with the textual matter that I’m reading but thoughts that are put in to my mind as a result of that reading. I find it’s possible to get a great deal of divine guidance for everyday living simply by writing down and praying over the things, the thoughts that come to one’s mind while reading the Word of God.
To serve Christ in this matter of righteousness means find out what He wants, second, depend on Him to enable you to do what He wants. “It is God,” says Paul in Philippians 2:13, “It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Find out what He wants, depend on Him to enable you to do what he wants, and third, never quit until the job is done. Any element of right and wrong, righteousness is the word we’re talking about. Any element of right or wrong concerning which God gives you a directive as you read His Word and pray, never quit until that has been settled.
Don’t give up. It does no good to bring a load of wood halfway from the woodshed to the stove. You have to bring it all the way. It does no good to bring a bucket of water halfway from the well and then set it down. That is not going to enable you to wash or to have some water to drink. And so when you are doing something that God said to do, stick at it until the job is done. Finish the job and then because your master in Heaven is a just and a loving master, expect the joy of reward. There is always a compensating reward of joy and peace that comes from obeying God.
You can experience that as you serve your Lord in these matters. “He that in these things – righteousness, joy, and peace – serves Christ is acceptable to God.” Remember the key word “serve.” Serve like a slave. What does a slave do? He’s subservient to his master’s desires, he finds out what his master wants, he depends on his master for the authority to do what his master wants, he stays on the job until the job is done and he enjoys his master’s approval after the job is well done serving Christ.
Dear Father today, help us to serve Christ with all that we have, I ask in His name, Amen.
Until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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