Charles Stanley - The Believer's Highest Honor
One of the reasons that so many Christians have difficulty living their Christian life is because there is such a tremendous contrast between what the Word of God teaches and what the world promotes. And there is a vast contrast between the two. The tragedy is that a lot of Christians have been caught up in what the world teaches rather than what God teaches because what the world teaches appeals to the flesh. It appeals to our naturalness. And you’ll recall in the fifteenth chapter of John, the seventeenth chapter and in First John chapter five, we are warned about it.
In fact, in First John, he says, "Love not the world neither the things that are in the world". That is, certainly don’t love their opinions and their philosophy and their viewpoint. And yet that is exactly what happens. It’s one of these areas that, in which we have such a vast contrast between what the world believes and what our Bible teaches that I want to talk about. And I want you to turn if you will to John chapter twelve. John chapter twelve, and I want us to read just a few verses here. And I want us to think in terms of "The Believer’s Highest Honor".
What is the highest honor that could be bestowed upon a believer? And in this twelfth chapter of John, Jesus has just laid down a principle, very strong principle. In a single verse He said so much when He said, verse twenty-four, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit," That’s sorta the foundation of what He’s about to say. Then He says who, "He who loves his life loses it; he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal". Then He says, "If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him".
Listen to that. The Father will honor those who serve Him. Now, I think there are lots of people that God has called into service. And often times we have the idea that service means preaching the gospel or being a missionary or playing in a church orchestra or singing in a church choir or doing some specific work in the church which all certainly are very, very important areas of service. But think about this. If you’re a mother raising godly children and you see that as the place that God has called you to serve at this particular time in your life, it won’t be forever because your children are gonna grow up. But it’s the place that God has called you to serve with your husband at this point in your life. You are serving God in that place. It may be in your business.
You may be the president, the vice president or you may work somewhere else along in that business but you’re there because you believe that’s where God’s placed you. You’re making, you’re trying to make an impact on the people around you. You are doing exactly what the Apostle Paul said in Colossians when he said we’re to do our work as unto the Lord. That we are serving God by doing our work with quality. Doing our work, the best we know how. Doing our work in the right spirit and the right attitude. Doing it as unto the Lord Himself and doing it in a fashion that’s making an impact on the lives of those around us. That is, our attitude, the decisions that are being made, either about us or decisions we make, or decisions we make with the principles of scripture in mind, you’re serving God in that place. He said we’re to be like salt and like light.
So, He certainly isn’t gonna put us all in the same place. He’s gonna put His servants in different aspects of society, in the business world wherever it might be. He’s placing us there in order to be like salt, changing the flavor. Like light, driving out the darkness, so that all of us who are believers fall into the category of being servants of God. And I wonder if you see yourself that way, or do you simply see yourself as a church member? You see yourself as a member of this denomination, or this particular church, or this particular vocation in the church. The Bible says that you and I are servants of the Most High God. And I wonder if it has ever dawned on you how very important that title is and the fact that God the Father could not pay you a higher honor than to call you one of His servants.
So, I want us to think about this because I think a lot of people have the idea when we talk about serving the Lord, that somehow you, you take a step downward. For example, if someone says to you, Well, I, we need someone to serve in this place or that place. Well, I don’t have time for that. You know, I don’t know, I don’t have an education for that. And so, we give all kinds of excuses. And I think about how many people that the Lord is calling to His service in particular areas whether it’s to preach the gospel, the mission field or some particular service in church and they’ve said no. They’ve given all kinds of excuses for saying no.
So, what I want you to see, and I want you to listen carefully because God’s going to speak to you whether you intend for Him to or not. He’s gonna say something to you today. And you may be watching. You may be listening. Maybe you’re not a member of a church. You may have been saved a long time. You may have a lot of years behind you. But somewhere along the way it never dawned on you that when God saved you, He saved you with this idea in mind. One of those ideas was that you would become one of His servants to accomplish His purpose, His will and His plan in this life. Oh, you may say, But who am I? I’m only one. Everyone is only one. What could I do? Maybe you’ve never given God the opportunity to find out what He would do through you if you just allowed Him. I want you to listen to this one single premise for this entire message. The highest honor that God could place upon you is to serve Him.
Now, listen carefully. If, for example, we had a very godly president who believed the scriptures and who tried to act as president on the basis of scriptural principles. And you believed in him and you honored him. Suppose he were to call you one day and say, Someone gave me your name and I looked at your qualifications and I believe that you would make me a good personal assistant in my office for the next four years. Let me ask you, how many of you would be honored if a godly president called you and said, Would you serve as one of my assistants for the next four years? Would you not feel honored by that? Yes, you would.
Now, someone who is far greater than a president has called you. And when I think about all the reasons for believing that the highest honor that could be placed upon us is to be a servant of God. Now I want to say this and I want to make this point clearly. I want to get off this platform for the simple reason, I am not talking about the fact that only preachers and missionaries are servants of God. But I’m simply saying again that every single believer is a servant of the living God. Whether you’re carrying out your service or not’s not even the issue. That’s what call, God called you to do, and I want you to listen why I believe it should be considered a great honor. First of all, the privilege to serve God simply means this, the privilege to serve the highest sovereign of the whole universe.
If you’ll notice for example in Colossians chapter one, when Paul is describing the Lord Jesus Christ, here’s what he says about Him in this first chapter. He says, beginning in verse fifteen, "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation". Look at that. "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on the earth, visible and" he says visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, "all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, in Him all things are held together". They’re sustained by Him. "He’s the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, of the first-born of the dead".
Now think about this for a moment. To be called to serve the living God is to be called to serve the highest person who has ever existed, who’s always existed, always will. He is the Most High God. He is the sovereign of the entire universe. He is the creator of all things, the sustainer of all things. Listen, He rules and governs all things and He’s the head of the body, His church. Is it not an honor, would it not be considered an honor to serve the living God? Yes indeed. Because here is a person, listen, unlike anyone else who’s ever existed. And the fact that He has done for you and me what no one else could possibly do by sending His only begotten Son to die on the cross to save us from our sins, delivering us from the awesome eternal penalty of our sin. And not only that, to be able to serve the one who is called the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords is the highest honor God could give us as His children.
And that being the case, let me ask you once and I’ll ask you many times, Why is it that you have possibly, some of you, you have never served God in any fashion? You joined the church when you were a child or a young person, or it may have been over, older years in your life you joined the church. You attend church, you give your money, you hear the prayers, you enjoy the singing, you listen to the sermon, and you go home. But as far as serving God, it’s never dawned on you that God calls you not only, listen, to save you, but He also calls you to be one of His servants. You say, Well but my education. Has nothing to do with it. Well, my age. Has nothing to do with it. My, well my health has nothing to do with it.
Some of the greatest servants of God are people who are on their bed of affliction, but they are great intercessors for the living God, great servants of God. Many of God’s greatest servants out there, from God’s viewpoint, I’m gonna show you why in a few moments, never been to a seminary, never been to college, great servants of the living God. All of our excuses are rendered absolutely null and void. God saved us and one of the primary reasons He saved us is in order that we might serve Him. So, one of the reasons I believe it’s a privilege to serve Him is because look who we’re serving. The sovereign power of the entire universe has called you and me to serve Him. But there’s a second reason. And that is this, to serve the living God is to follow in the pathway of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Look if you will in the twentieth chapter of Matthew for a moment. Matthew chapter twenty and notice if you will in these last few verses here. Twentieth chapter, beginning with the twenty-fifth verse. Twentieth chapter of Matthew, twenty-fifth verse. Listen. He says, "But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them," that is we’re talking about the way the world operates. He says, "and their great men exercise authority over them".
Now think about this. How does the world look at greatness? You be number one. You be on top. You be the most famous. You be the greatest. You be the biggest, you be the largest. That is, that’s what the world calls greatness. Prestige, popularity, power, control, listen to what he says. He says, "It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man," Jesus, "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many". When you and I choose to surrender ourselves to our Lord to be His servants, we step in the pathway of the Son of God. He said, I didn’t come to be served; I came to serve.
And so what we have to ask ourselves the question is this, if the Lord Jesus Christ, listen, who is our master, are we greater than He? Can we exercise any kind of excuse that’s legitimate in the eyes of God for not serving Him? Can we give any excuse that’s acceptable to Him for not serving Him? Are we greater than Jesus who listen, who not only was a servant, but He says He was a bondslave. He took upon Himself the form of a bondslave in order to serve mankind and to serve the Father? When you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you were adopted into the Kingdom of God, your sins were forgiven, your name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, you took upon yourself sonship and servant-hood. And the tragedy is that most people are gonna live their entire life and never dawn on them that we, listen, we are to spend and invest our days and our life, our years in serving God in some fashion.
Well and that’s another reason I think as you think in terms of it to serve Him, it’s a prelude to what you and I are gonna be doing when we get to heaven. Now somewhere along the way back in the past somebody put out these big huge family Bibles, got all these pictures in there, black and white pictures in there of angels. And, and what do you see on those angels? They’re floating around in the sky and flying around and so forth. And if you ask some people, Well, what are we gonna do when we get to heaven? Well, I don’t know. I guess we’re just gonna we’re just gonna worship God. Let me tell you something. Heaven’s gonna be a very active place.
There’s not any, in other words this, some people say, "Well, I’ll just be sure when it’s all over, maybe one of these days when I get to heaven I can just rest." Well, forget it. Because number one, there’s nothing, listen. There’s gonna be a rest through our souls, but if that, if you think that means sitting down doing nothing, listen, God is not inactive. Jesus isn’t inactive. And the saints of God on this earth are not inactive. And why do you think heaven’s gonna be some inactive place you sit around and do nothing for all eternity? Jesus said, "I’m going to prepare a place for you". I’m gonna get busy and prepare a place for you so when I come again, I’ll call you to Myself. Heaven’s gonna be a very active place.
So, I want you to turn if you will to Revelation because somebody says, "Well, you mean to tell me that after I labor down here all these years, that I gotta go to heaven and go to work?" Amen! Amen, that’s right. And for you, folks who decided you’re gonna retire, listen. You may retire against God’s will but I’m telling, He’s gonna wake you up when you die. Listen to this. Listen to what he says. He says, for example, let’s begin in verse one of that twenty-second chapter, "Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal," he says, "coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. on either side," he said, "the river there was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. there will be no longer there any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him".
Wake up! His bond-servants will serve Him. That is, God, listen, is going to give you and me the privilege, the high honor of serving Him in Heaven for all eternity. There’s not a single verse in the scripture that gives anybody the, listen, legitimate excuse for not serving God. We can serve Him from, listen, from any perspective. There are, there are so many avenues of service for God. And yet some people will live their entire lives. And I think about people who get saved early in life, they join the church, they get baptized and they go to church. Somewhere along the way it never dawns on them, nobody ever instructs them, nobody ever challenges them. They go to church, they give their money the prayers and so forth, and nobody ever says, "Listen, are you serving God? What are you doing to serve God?"
And I think about people who live when I think about the tragedy of living your entire life and never even realizing that you’re a servant of God, never taking advantage of the opportunity, never recognizing what an awesome honor it is to serve God. Friend, don’t live your life, waste your life, and die forgetting the fact that God chose you and saved you. And one of the reasons for doing so is that you may become one of His servants. He can use your hands and your feet and your eyes and your ears and your lips and your body to serve Him, to bring honor and glory to Him. The idea of joining a church and sitting down and filling up, filling up a pew or a seat and going home and forgetting it and not serving God is totally unscriptural. Totally unscriptural. There’s not a single verse in the Bible whereby a person can defend that kind of attitude.
And tragedy of tragedies is that some people have lived their entire life and it’s never dawned on them, I have a personal responsibility to my God, to my savior, to the Holy Spirit who enables me to serve the living God daily. Whether it’s in my home or in my business, in my school, among my friends, I am to serve the living God. And let me tell you something. That’s not an option. We say baptism isn’t an option, neither is serving God an option. That’s not optional. Well, will I be a servant of God or will I not? And I think about young men who are called to the ministry and turn Him down. You think you think about what that means. Somebody’s not thinking. You mean, God called you to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and you said "no" to the sovereign ruler over the universe who wouldn’t even have to blink His eye and could make you absolutely obliterate in a moment?
How can you say "no" to the living God? How can you say "no" to the Son of God who died for you? How can you say "no", how can you say "no" to a God who’s been so good to you? How can you say "no" to a God who graces you with a call to serve Him? It doesn’t even make sense. And you see, the truth is we’re all His servants. That’s who God has made us. It’s one thing to be called a saint and a Christian and a follower and a soldier and an ambassador and all the rest. Servant of the Most High God. Every single one of us is a servant of God. And so, our spirit is, we’re to serve Him in humility. We’re to serve Him to the best of our God-given ability through the gifts that God has given us. Certainly, we should consider it, indeed a high honor. Well, there’s certainly another reason for it and that is this. To serve God is a means by which I can express my gratitude to God for saving me.
Now listen carefully. We do not serve God in order to be saved. I’m gonna say that three times because that’s what people will hear. We do not serve God in order to be forgiven. We do not serve God in order to go to heaven. We do not serve God in order to be saved. We do not serve God in order to inherit eternal life. We serve God because we are saved, because we do have the gift of eternal life, because we are His children, because we are eternally secure, because we are born again, because we are saved. It’s because we are, that we serve Him. But we certainly should be sons and daughters of gratitude. And certainly, servants of gratitude because what has He done?
What He’s done for us is what no one else could possibly do. You think about this. God saved some of us very early in life. Thank God He did. Some God has saved very late in life. Thank God, He saved you late in life. God in His grace and mercy and love and patience and long-suffering has put up with a whole bunch of junky stuff in all of our lives. What is, He just kept on loving us, kept on blessing us, kept on using us, what? Listen, He’s not looking for perfect people.
You say, Well, I’m so imperfect. Join the ranks of the imperfect. We’re all imperfect. We don’t come to church because we’re worthy. We don’t come to church because we’re good. We don’t come to church because listen, because we’re perfect. We don’t come to church because we’re saints, we come to church to worship Him because we’re His sons and daughters and servants of His and we want to honor Him, serve Him, love Him, praise Him, worship Him and adore Him because of who He is, not because of who we are. So much of the world’s idea’s self-centered. Number one, first, biggest, position, power, prestige, prominence. What’s Jesus thinking all the time? Bondservant. Washing feet. Doing whatever is necessary to do what? To serve the living God.
Now listen. When God calls us to serve Him, we can’t tell Him where, when, how, how long or anything else. Listen, if Jesus Christ walked in here today and walked up to you and said to you, I want you to serve Me. How many of you would say, Well, where? When? How much, how long? What’s it gonna cost me? Servants are God-centered. So let me ask you this. Are you willing to serve God? Say, Oh, yes. Are you willing to say to Him today? Lord, anywhere, anytime, anything under any condition, here am I. Well, let me ask you this. Could you put it any other way? Could you say, I’m available for most things, Lord. I’m willing to serve for a little while, do my time; possibly Lord, but you know, but God what’s the reward going to be? Servants don’t seek reward, they seek to please the Father.
Now listen to me carefully. With all of my heart, God knows my heart. As a servant of God, what else can we do but give back to Him what belongs to Him, and that is our total being. Our eyes, our lips all of our entire body belongs to Him and everything you and I "possess," in quotes, belong to him. What are we to do with it? We’re to serve Him. There’s not a verse in the Bible that gives me the right to act on my own once I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Lord. If He’s my lord, He has full rights over me. If he’s my lord, He has the last word. Whatever he says, what I must do, whether I like it or not. He doesn’t say, I suggest. He doesn’t say would you please do so and so? He doesn’t ask us.
You know what? He’s the Lord. He is Master, He’s God. And you know what? When the church wakes up, when the body of Christ wakes up and realizes that we are millions upon millions upon millions strong as the servants of the living God and begin to step out in life, making an impact by the power of the Holy Spirit, the church of God will wake up. And something will happen to this evil wicked, vile world, when the servants of God begin to be servants rather than sitting and watching the world go by. Well, let me give you one last reason, and that’s simply this. To serve God, listen, to serve God is to be placed in the highest position there is in the eyes of God. It’s to, it’s to take the place of the highest position there is in the eyes of God.
Now let’s go back to Matthew chapter twenty. Matthew chapter twenty and listen again what He said. I want to read these verses again because they’ll slip right by you. Listen to what He said. He said in verse twenty-five. Jesus called them to Himself, and He said to them. "Rulers of the Gentiles," that is the world’s leaders, "lord it over them," control them, "exercise authority over them," over the Gentiles. "Lord it over them and their great men exercise authority over them. That is, those in positions of power and prestige and prominence and all the rest, these are the great men". Listen to what He says. "It is not this way among you. Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your diacanos, your servant. Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave," your doulos, "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many".
Somebody says, Well, I’d like to be a great person. Well, I can tell you the route is not the world’s route. To be great does not mean we climb the ladder to be number one. To be great means that you and I kneel before the Lord Jesus Christ and say, Lord, I humble myself before You as Your servant. I’ll go where You want me to go. I’ll do what You want me to do. I’ll say what You want me to say. I’ll be what You want me to be. I am available twenty-four hours a day to Your divine call. I’m willing to work, I’m willing to labor hard. I’m willing to employ my gifts. I’m willing to suffer. I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to please you, My Master.
Let me ask you a question. Does He deserve anything less than that? So, I want to challenge you. Ask yourself this question. God, can I really claim by my conduct, by my actions, by the way I spend my time, by my labor, do I have any right to claim that I’m one of Your servants? And notice I said by what we do, not by what He said. Secondly, ask yourself this question: Am I really and truly willing to say to the Lord Jesus, Not my will, Thy will be done. "I surrender myself to You as a servant. Your will, Your way, Your timing, Your place, Your manner and whatever You call me to do".
Now here’s what I want you to understand. if I do anything less than that, I am refusing to live out the very life God called me to live. Now remember, it doesn’t make any difference who you are, where you are in life. Doesn’t make any difference about your past. God can fix your past, He’ll give you a new beginning. Has nothing to do with age. God’ll take you right where you are and begin to use you. Has nothing to do with your education.
God can use you wonderfully whether you have one or not. It has to do with my attitude, spirit of my heart, and my willingness to say, I recognize You as the sovereign of this universe, the one who has saved me and kept me and sustained me, and the one to whom I’m gonna give account for my life, and the one with whom I’m gonna spend all eternity as a servant. I don’t believe any of us can say to Him, I’m an exception, not a one of us. Created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works which He foreordained that you and I should walk in them as a lifestyle.
Father, I pray the Holy Spirit will speak to every single one of us. I want You to speak to my heart, God. Every single one of us, we owe You everything. You have honored us with allowing us to be saved and to be your servants. I pray the Holy Spirit would speak to every lost person, those who have refused Jesus Christ up to this point in their life. To acknowledge that to refuse salvation and to refuse service is to rebel against the Most High God. I pray Father for those who have never even thought about it until this very occasion, that You would grant them the wisdom and the courage to say, Lord, here am I, send me, period. For we ask it in Christ’s name, amen.