God gave us His commandments for our sake
“Can a man be profitable to God, though he who is wise may be profitable to himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that you are righteous? Or is it gain to Him that you make your ways blameless?” Job 22:2-3.
“If you, what do you accomplish against Him? Or, if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him? If you are righteous, what do you give Him? Or what does He receive from your hand? Your wickedness affects a man such as you, and your righteousness a son of man.” Job 35:6-8.
This lets us understand that God does not need us; on the contrary, we need Him. He is not affected by our wickedness or by our righteousness. These can only affect people, our fellow men.
When God gives us His commands, we can say we serve Him if we keep them. However, He has not given us His commandments for His own sake so that we may be of profit to Him by keeping them. Not at all! He has given us His commandments for our sake, in order to give us wisdom, and so that we can be happy.
Honor-seeking is unrighteous
There is only one way we can serve God, which is by living and serving in such a way that God receives the glory. Then we are truthful; otherwise we commit unrighteousness. “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.” John 7:18.
You are unrighteous if you say, “Lord, Lord!” and seek honor for yourself. Then it doesn’t help that you have done many wonderful things in Jesus’ name; you have served yourself, not Jesus. Jesus has said this to us with all clarity: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23.
This is difficult to comprehend. How could they do such great things in Jesus’ name, yet He did not know them? Quite simply, it was because they committed this unrighteousness, that they received the honor for what they did. Honor and power belong to God alone. You are a deceiver if you take any of that honor for yourself. It doesn’t improve matters at all by saying, “Lord, Lord!” or, “All glory to God!”
Paul was the Lord’s faithful servant. He felt that he would be put to shame if Christ were not glorified by his body. “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified by my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20. He did not find many such faithful servants. When he wrote this, he said he had only Timothy; all the others sought their own, not the things that pertained to Christ. (Philippians 2:19-23)
If people seek recognition, it doesn’t matter what they accomplish and sacrifice. Whether they do it to spread the gospel or to save souls, they serve themselves if they seek their own honor by doing it. Then they do not have a sincere care. Paul had received the apostleship to work the obedience of the faith among all nations to the glory of Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:4-5) If he had worked for his own honor, he would not have been faithful. He would have been unrighteous.
Serve God – glorify God
Jesus is an example of seeking God’s honor, just as He is in everything else. His only thought was to glorify His Father. In the hour ofHis prayer was that His Father’s name might be glorified, not that He might avoid the situation. “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” John 12:27-28. If this is our prayer in the hour of tribulation, the tribulation will also be glorious for us.
When Jesus was to describe His work on earth, He said it with the following words: “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4. We are serving God if we do the same in whatever we do.
This article is adapted from an article that first appeared in Norwegian under the title “Serving God” in BCC’s periodical “Skjulte Skatter” “Hidden Treasures” in January, 1964.
© Copyright Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag
You may be interested in reading more on our topic page about our relationship with God, or in the selected articles below:
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.