James Smith, 1859
Some people, now a-days, do not like the title master. But I confess, I have no sympathy with such. I love to call Jesus my Master. I rejoice in the fact, that I am in his service, and that I can say, "I love my Master, and I will not leave his service." I consider it an honor to serve Jesus, and I find much of my happiness in it. I propose therefore, that we shall for a few minutes consider, "The honor and happiness of serving Christ."
Serving Christ implies that we know him, for no one can serve Christ while ignorant of him. We know Christ first as a Savior, and receiving salvation from him — then we come to know him as a Master, and obey him. The Holy Spirit teaches us our need of Christ, and our misery without Christ. He then leads us to Christ, revealing the glory of his person, the merit of his blood, and the freeness of his grace. He prompts us to seek, until we find a saving interest in Christ. He then unfolds to us his claims, upon our persons and obedience, and leads us to surrender ourselves to him, with, "What will you have me to do?"
Enjoying peace through his blood, and desiring to be engaged in his service — we soon find out our proper sphere of labor, and engage heartily in his work. For him we speak to sinners. For him we visit the fatherless and the widow, the sick, and the afflicted. For him we circulate bibles, testaments, and evangelistic tracts. For him we build houses of prayer, and help by our contributions and prayers, to hold up the hands of his ministers. For him we deny ourselves, mortify the deeds of the body, and strive to save souls from death. Not to be praised or applauded by our fellow-men, not to satisfy conscience or gratify a vain mind — but to serve and honor Jesus, we part with our property, give our time, and employ our talents.
In order to serve Christ, we must love him, for it is only the service that flows from love, which is pleasant to him, or is accepted by him. He wins our love by showing us that he has taken our place, suffered our desert, and died in our stead; by proposing to take us into the closest union with his person, and make us shine with him, in his riches, honor, and glory. Having won our warmest love, he gives us to realize his infinite wisdom, which brings us to approve of, and admire his institutions and commands. Now, nothing will satisfy the loving heart — but the entire consecration of the person and talents to his service. To serve Jesus, and to serve Jesus only — is the deep and all conquering desire of the soul. Jesus must be the Master. He must command and rule. Obedience is pleasure. To do the will of Jesus is a perfect treat. In any way to honor Jesus, is a source of happiness and satisfaction. His service is perfect freedom.
The service of Jesus is honorable. The servants of the crown, in our own country, consider it an honor to be selected by her Majesty, to be associated with her, and to serve her. But think, of being selected by Jesus, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, to be near his person, to form part of his court, and to serve him. If the queen of Sheba, felt constrained to say to Solomon, when she saw the splendor of his palace, and heard his wisdom, "Happy are your men, happy are these your servants, which stand continually before you, and that hear your wisdom:" how much more happy, and how much more honored are the servants of the Lord Jesus? Yes, it is an honor, a high honor, to be permitted to serve our God and Savior. Consider who he is, "the only begotten of the Father," "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person," "the heir of all things," "the only wise God our Savior," "God over all, blessed forever." To serve him, and to serve him out of pure love, is indeed honor. Consider also to what it introduces. It introduces us into the presence of the Father, it associates us with the Holy Spirit, it connects us with the innumerable company of the angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; and it will at length, introduce us to the glorious service in the upper, better, and brighter world.
The service of Jesus, is happy service. It is not the service of the slave — but of the free man — nor of the hireling — but of the loving child. It must be happy, for it flows from pure love. It must be happy, for it leads us to Jesus, and is performed in the strength of the Spirit of Jesus. It must be happy, for it secures the smile, the approbation, and the plaudit of Jesus. Oh, the thought, of hearing Jesus say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Oh, the thought, of pleasing Jesus now, and of hearing our poor services acknowledged by Jesus before assembled worlds!
To serve Jesus, in ever so humble a way, in ever so imperfect a manner, must make us happy — for in keeping his commandments, there is great reward. True, the imperfection of our service will humble us, and that we can do so little for him, who has done so much for us, will grieve us. But, notwithstanding all, the service of a child of God, the service of a servant of Christ, is happy service. If it is happy below, all imperfect as it is — then what must it be above? Ah! what! Tongue cannot tell. Heart cannot conceive. But, all who serve Jesus out of love, will soon know; for those who now serve him in the streets and lanes of the city, or in the highways and hedges below; will be called up to serve him day and night in his temple, and so be forever with him. If we are out-door servants now, we shall be in-door servants soon; the service of the field, will be exchanged for the service of the inner sanctuary.
Beloved, are you serving Christ? Is Jesus your own
beloved Master? If so, self is denied, it must be so, for he has
said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take
up his cross and follow me. For whoever will save his life, shall lose it;
and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Jesus must
therefore be preferred to ease or pleasure, to health
or wealth, to honor or even life itself. No one . . .
knows Jesus, as he should be known;
loves Jesus, as he should be loved;
esteems Jesus, as he should be esteemed;
or serves Jesus, as he should be served — unless he is ready to do anything, or go any where for him — or even to lay down his life for his sake.
That must be a good Master, who deserves that his servant should die for him; and that master is Jesus. That must be a good servant, who is willing to lay down his life for his master's sate; but such are all the true-hearted servants of the Son of God. Their only fear is, lest if put to the trial, their faith should fail, and their courage give away. Most heartily do they desire strength, and seek grace, to die for their Master, if he should require it at their hands.
Are you serving Christ? Then take him for your example, as he says, "If any man serves me — let him follow me." That is, let him take me as his example, imitate me, do as I have done. He sought not his own glory, but the glory of the Father who sent him. His food was to do the will of his Father, and to finish his work. If he spoke, he gave utterance to his Father's words. If he wrought, he did the works of his Father. Always and everywhere, he sought in all things to honor his Father.
Are you serving Christ? Think of the happiness that awaits you. Jesus says, "Where I am — there shall my servant be." What, be where Jesus is! Be with Jesus forever! Yes, for this he prayed, and the Father always hears him. "Father, I will that they also whom you have given me, may be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which you have given me; for you loved me before the foundation of the world."
Are you serving Jesus? Think of the honor that awaits you. Your Master says, "If any man serves me — him will my Father honor." It was an important question, once proposed by an eastern monarch, "What shall be done unto the man, whom the king delights to honor?" Haman could answer that. But what shall be done unto the man, whom the King of kings delights to honor? Who can answer this question? No created intelligence can tell what God has prepared; no created powers of description can set forth what God will confer on the servants of his beloved Son. Let it suffice us for the present to know, that the Apostle has informed us, that "we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is!" Like Jesus — what can I desire beyond this!