Christ, the Motive in Service
Two hundred and fifty years ago, the saintly Samuel Rutherford lay on his dying pillow, bright and full of the joy of the Lord, whom he had loved and served amid times of cruel persecution. Four of his fellow-Presbyters came to see him, and to them his farewell words of godly cheer and of weighty exhortation from the glory-gate were, “My Lord and Master is the chiefest of ten thousand. None is comparable to Him, in heaven or on earth. Dear brethren, do all for Christ. Pray for Christ, preach for Christ, feed the flock for Christ; do all for Christ. Beware of men pleasing—there is too much of it among us.”
These words of testimony to the excellency of the glorified Christ, and to Himself as the true motive and spring of all service for His Name, come ringing down the centuries, as a voice to the soul for the present hour. They tell us what a dying saint, looking into the eternal world, estimates the true motive of all service to be. It is Christ Himself, “the chiefest of ten thousand,” with whom none and nothing here is comparable. Himself the object and the motive for all that His servants “do and teach,” in all they seek and say.
What a dignity and holy height this gives to the service of the Lord! “The ministry” is, alas! too often taken up as a pastime by some, and as a means to earn a livelihood by others. And no higher ambition than to be “a good preacher,” and to be “well-spoken of,” may soon become its motive if not its object, if the excellency of Christ and the ambition to exalt His Name alone, ceases to be the driving power of service for His peerless Name.
To preach Christ for Christ’s sake, seeking Christ’s approval alone, is no easy task to flesh and blood. It needs continual self-judgment, habitual heart-searching, with continuous reference to God in the secret of His presence of all, to maintain the right motive, as well as the Scriptural manner of service. And only as the preacher preaches to, and the pastor feeds and leads the flock of Christ, for Christ’s sake, and not to please men, to gain their smile and secure their commendation, is his service acceptable in heaven, or of abiding value in those to whom it is rendered.
“Do ALL for Christ,” said the dying Rutherford. His love the constraining power, His glory the one aim, Himself the supreme Object in it all. There are few who will venture to say they do it. But it ought to be the aim of all, for nothing less and nothing else, gives pleasure to God. And what is any service worth, if it falls short of this? It will be motive rather than measure that will tell, in the day when, before His judgment seat, the living Lord will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart. And then shall every man have praise of God (1 Cor. 4:5), for exactly what he is worth. There will be no “fulsome flattery” then, as too often there is now. Therefore, as the dying patriarch, with the beams of the “glory dwelling in Immanuel’s land” falling on his departing spirit said, “Beware of pleasing men—there is too much of it among us.”
Article series: Our Glorious LordChrist and The Church On His Head, Many Diadems