THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
SERVING THE LORD
August 13, 2011
Today’s reading: Joshua 24:14-29
Joshua, the successor of Moses,
had led God’s people into the promised land and subdued
it. Now he was on the verge of death, and he gave the people
his final exhortation.
It is striking that in today’s
passage, the phrase “serve the Lord” is said seven
times. Joshua’s whole discourse is basically about serving
the Lord. He starts by averring, “As for me and my household,
we will serve the Lord.” (Jos 24:15b). When the people
said that they too would serve the Lord, Joshua challenged
them, saying it was hard and they might not be able to do
so (Jos 24:19). The people insisted that they would serve
Joshua had already made clear
what God expected of His people. And as the leader, he had
shown the way by strongly stating his own posture of serving
the Lord. Now he wanted to impress the point on the people.
Now he wanted to be sure that the people were truly decided
on what they had to do. So in response to Joshua’s inputs,
the people said they would serve the Lord three times (Jos
24:18,21,24). We are reminded of Jesus asking Peter three
times whether he loved him.
We too are a servant people. We are called to serve the Lord.
Why should we serve the Lord?
First, because of what He
has already done for us. The Israelites acknowledged the mighty
works of God in their midst, from their deliverance from Egypt,
through their sojourn in the desert, to their settling in
the promised land (Jos 24:17-18). God has served us, beyond
what we deserve, and we should serve Him if only out of gratitude.
Second, for our ongoing well-being.
In life we will serve someone or something. We may just serve
ourselves, or we may serve different causes, or we may serve
strange gods, or we may serve God. Since no one can serve
two masters, and God “is a jealous God” (Jos 24:19c),
when we choose to serve someone or something other than God,
we will certainly get into trouble. God is a jealous God because
He cares for us and has the best plan for us. He does not
want us to go astray. If we choose to serve others instead
of God, we will experience evil and destruction (Jos 24:20).
Third, serving God brings
us into a deeper relationship with Him. Serving God is a very
important tool to growing in the Spirit. Since we are God’s
people, since we are called to holiness because our God “is
a holy God” (Jos 24:19b), we need to turn our hearts
to Him. Serving Him and focusing on Him allows us to “put
away the strange gods that are among you and turn your hearts
to the Lord” (Jos 24:23).
How are we called to serve God?
First, we are to serve in
the fear of the Lord (Jos 24:14a). We are to be in awe of
Him. We are to realize who He is, the awesome Almighty, and
who we are, the creatures who owe Him worship. He is the Master
and we are His slaves. We acknowledge Him as Lord. Knowing
what our proper relationship is will naturally lead us to
Second, we serve God completely
(Jos 24:14b). We do not give less than our all. We are not
lukewarm, perhaps serving out of obligation but without passion
and joy. God is everything to us, and we express this by serving
Him with our whole strength.
Third, we serve God sincerely
(Jos 24:14c). We are not functional, doing “just a service.”
Our service ought to be an expression of what we know we are
called to be, and how important we know service to God is.
God has made Himself dependent upon His people to bring His
salvation to the ends of the earth. We sincerely desire to
accomplish God’s will.
Fourth, we cast out other
gods (Jos 24:14d). We have no other priorities than God’s
work. We have no other agenda than His will. We have no attachments
but Him. We give ourselves totally to His plan for our lives.
We deny ourselves and embrace His cross.
The Israelites responded positively to Joshua. “Far
be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other
gods.” (Jos 24:16). When Joshua said that by their words
they were their own witnesses that they had chosen to serve
the Lord (Jos 24:22a), they strongly affirmed it. “We
are, indeed!” (Jos 24:22b).
Unfortunately, we know that
eventually the Israelites served other gods and turned away
from the God of their covenant. The large memorial stone Joshua
set up as witness would eventually fulfill its purpose. “It
shall be a witness against you, should you wish to deny your
God.” (Jos 24:27b).
How about us? God brought us out of our slavery to sin and
Satan, God did great things for us, God intends to use us
to be His servant through whom He will show His glory (Is
We have willingly entered
into a covenant with God. We have promised to serve God by
living as His follower, by dedicating ourselves to the task
of building a strong family for Christ, by committing to be
an active member of our community, and by being a witness
to the world of God’s love (check out your covenant
card). Then we close our covenant commitment by invoking the
Lord Jesus and our blessed Mother Mary to help us faithfully
live out our covenant. That is serious stuff!
Are we faithfully living out
our covenant? Or is our covenant card going to be the memorial
stone that will witness against us?
I pray that we will always
be able to say: “We will serve the Lord, our God, and
obey his voice.” (Jos 24:24).
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Servant Leadership (Part 23) [PDF]