The Joy of Committed Service
In her hymn, Come, All Christians, Be Committed, Eva B. Lloyd reminds us that the Christian life is essentially a life of service to others in Jesus’ name. It is, a relatively new hymn set to an old tune. The words are by Eva B. Lloyd who composed the hymn in 1963. The hymn first appeared in the 1975 Baptist Hymnal and was included in the 1991, and in our latest hymnal published in 2008.
The tune that Lloyd set her lyrics to is called Beach Spring, and like many of our hymns, is a tune based on a traditional Shaker folk melody of the day. The music It was written by B. F. White. White was the editor of a popular hymn book entitled The Sacred Harp, which used "shaped notes"—so-called because the musical notation uses note heads in 4 distinct shapes to aid in sight-reading. The term "sacred harp" refers to the human voice—the musical instrument we were all given at birth. There are Sacred Harp Singing Societies all across the nation, (including one up in Columbia), which continue the tradition of using shaped-note hymnals, and no instrumentation. Some of these groups have been meeting in the same location for over 150 years.
The tune first appeared in White's 1844 edition of The Sacred Harp. He named the tune for a Baptist Church in Harris County, Georgia located near two beech trees at a spring. The Beech Spring Baptist Church still exists near Pine Mountain, GA.
This is a hymn that is exceptionally moving to me. Its theology is about the importance of believers being committed to “the service of the Lord.” As the Apostle James instructs us, we must not be merely "hearers of the Word," but "Doers of the Word."
I. FAITHFUL COMMITMENT MEANS BEING COMMITTED TO THE SERVICE OF THE LORD
- "Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!" (Psalm 100:2, ESV)
- Come, all Christians, be committed to the service of the lord; Make your lives for him more fitted, tune your hearts with one accord. Come into His courts with gladness, each his sacred vows renew, Turn away from sin and sadness, be transformed with life anew.
- a lifestyle of service is characterized by several Christ-like attributes ...
- the Christian life is a life of emulated service
- "It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:26-28. ESV)
- we follow Christ by disdaining to be served, but rather desiring to serve as He served
- we see this most clearly in the example that Jesus set for us during the Lord's Supper when He washed the feet of the disciples
- at the end of that event, Jesus said ...
- "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you." (John 13:14-15, ESV)
- we become His hands and His feet
- believers must become Bond Slaves to Christ and a servant to all
- "But if the slave plainly says, 7 love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,' 6then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever." (Exodus 21:5-6, ESV)
- ILLUS. In the Old Testament a Hebrews debt-slave who labored six years for his Jewish master had a choice at the beginning of his or her seventh year of servitude. They could choose freedom or they could choose to remain in bondage. If they chose to remain a slave, an ear was pierced signifying their choice. Those whose ears were pierced became known as "bondservants" because they had bonded themselves to their master for life.
- "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free." (Ephesians 6:5-8, ESV)
- our service is to be with a sincere heart
- we are to serve men as though we were serving Christ, himself
- our service is to be with a sincere effort
- not by way of eye-service—working well only when being watched by the boss
- not by way of being people-pleasers—working only to promote one's self-interests, rather than to honor the Lord, whose servants we really are
- our service is to be with a sincere purpose
- we are to serve with a good will as to the Lord
- our service is to be with a sincere motivation
- our motivation is not recompense and praise from men, but recompense and praise we receive back from the Lord
II. FAITHFUL COMMITMENT MEANS GIVING OUR TIME & TALENTS WHICH ARE FROM GOD ABOVE
- "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;" (Romans 12:3-6, ESV)
- Of your time and talents give ye, they are gifts from God above; To be used by Christians freely, to proclaim His wondrous love. Come again to serve the Savior, tithes and off'rings with you bring. In your work, with Him find favor, and with joy His praises sing.
- God didn't save us to sit, but to serve
- we were put on earth to make a contribution to the society in which we reside
- "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)
- a non-serving Christian is simply a contradiction in terms
- Eva B. Lloyd writes in her hymn that our gifts are to be used by Christians freely to proclaim His wondrous love
- sadly, thousands of churches across America are dying because of Christians who are more interested in being served than they are in serving
- they sit on the sidelines as spectators, and the Body of Christ suffers
- it is the heart of the Christian life
- the mature follower of Jesus doesn't ask the question, "Who's going to meet my needs?"
- ILLUS. How many times do we hear some Christian say, "I'm looking for a church that meets my needs and blesses me?”
- ILLUS. Most pastors I know would keel over dead if a prospective member told him, "I'm looking for a place to serve and be a blessing."
- ILLUS. As members of the body of Christ, we can be compared to pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has protrusions and indentations. The protrusions represent our gifts, talents, abilities, and the indentations represent our faults, limitations, and shortcomings. The beautiful thing is that the pieces complement one another and produce a beautiful whole. Just as each piece of a puzzle is important, so each member of the Body of Christ is important and can minister to the other members of the body. Just as, when one piece is missing from the puzzle, its absence is very obvious and damages the picture, so also is the whole weakened when we are absent from the Body of Christ. Just as, when each piece of a puzzle is in place, any one piece is not conspicuous but blends in to form the whole picture, so it should be in the body of Christ.
III. FAITHFUL COMMITMENT MEANS LOVING EACH OTHER WHICH IS REQUIRED
- "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35, ESV)
- God's command to love each other is required of every one; Showing mercy to one another mirrors His redemptive plan. In compassion He has given of His love that is divine; On the cross sins were forgiven; joy and peace are fully thine.
- God wants his family to be known for its love more than anything else
- Jesus said that our love for each other—not our doctrinal beliefs, not our mission statement, not our theological position—is our greatest witness to the world
- Eva Lloyd writes that this love mirrors God's redemptive plan
- to the Apostle Paul, being a member of the church meant being a vital organ of a living body, an indispensable, interconnected part of the Body of Christ
- "For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we. though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." (Romans 12:4-5, ESV)
- when we begin becoming careless about fellowship, everything else in the Christian life begins to slide
- in his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren writes that there are different levels of fellowship
- there is the fellowship of study—that's simply were we weekly come together to study God's Word and to worship
- there is the fellowship of serving—this is where we minister together to the needs of the lost and the saved
- there is the fellowship of suffering—this is where we enter into each other's pain and grief and carry each other's burdens
- "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2, ESV)
IV. FAITHFUL COMMITMENT MEANS ALL WHO NAME CHRIST COME IN PRAISE AND ADORATION
- "Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 41 n his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 60h come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!" (Psalm 95:1-6, ESV)
- Come in praise and adoration, All who in Christ's name believe; Worship Him with consecration, Grace and love you will receive. For His grace give Him the glory, For the Spirit and the Word, And repeat the gospel story Till mankind His name has heard.
- one of the reasons we love to sing hymns so much is that they often verbalize so beautifully what we often feel but cannot find words to express
- for me at least, this is true in regard to the last stanza of this hymn
- in its cadences of praise and adoration, I sing sentiments that mirror the deepest emotions of gratitude in my soul
- He is worth my praise and adoration, my worship and my consecration because of His grace
- ILLUS. Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher, wrote: "Praise is the honey of life which a devout heart extracts from every bloom of providence and grace."
- ILLUS William Law, in his Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life writes, "Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice, but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God willeth, who received everything as an instance of God's goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it."
Freidrich Nietzsche, the 19th century German philosopher and noted atheist, once said to a friend, “Jesus’ disciples will need to look more saved if I am to believe in their Savior.” Nietzsche used the poor witness of some Christians as his excuse for not believing. But he makes a good point. The world is looking for followers of Christ who look more like Jesus.
Meeting the needs of others with love characterized the early church. It was a place where one could serve and be served. When Luke described the early church, he noted that “they sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need” (Acts 2:45). A serving attitude and a giving spirit existed among them. These early church members looked for practical ways they could assist their brothers and sisters in Christ.