Monday, July 30, 2007Print This Page.:

THE LOVE OF A SERVANTPrint This Page.

ONE
Every worker of the Lord must have not only a love for the brothers but also a love for all men. Solomon once said, "Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker" (Prov. 17:5). God is the Creator of all men; therefore, every man is worthy of our love. A servant or worker of the Lord is not fit to serve Him if he is lacking in brotherly love or if he only has brotherly love but is lacking in love for all men. He must have a love for all men, a genuine affection for men, before he can serve God. All those who find men to be wearisome, troublesome, or contemptible are unqualified to be God's servants. We must see that in God's eyes man was created by Him. Man certainly has fallen, but he has become the object of the Lord's redemption. Although by nature man is stubborn, the Holy Spirit has chosen to touch man. Even the Lord Jesus became a man when He came to earth—a man like other men, gradually growing from infancy to full maturity. God's intention is to set up a "standard" man, a representative man, in whom all the plans of God are realized. After the Lord Jesus' ascension, the church was brought into being, which is the "one new man." The whole plan of redemption involves the uplifting and glorification of man. When we really come to understand the Word of God, we will realize that the term children of God is not so weighty as the term man, and we also will realize that God's plan, selection, and predestination have a glorified man as their objective. When we see the place that man occupies in the purpose of God, when we see man as the focus of all His plans, and when we see how the Lord humbled Himself to become a man, we will learn to appreciate all men. When our Lord was on earth, He said, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). The Lord's word is clear. The Son of Man came to serve many. Many does not refer to the church or to God's children, but to all men. Furthermore, He did not say that the Son of God came to serve, but the Son of Man. Here we see the Lord's attitude toward man.
A serious problem with many who are engaged in God's work is their total lack of love and respect for man, and their total failure to realize the value of man in God's sight. Today we feel as if we have attained great heights when we begin to love God's children. Formerly we did not love anyone. Now that we can love the brothers a little, we feel as if we have done a tremendous thing. But, brothers and sisters, this is not enough. We need to be enlarged by God; we need to see that all men are precious to God. Whether or not we will build up a good spiritual work depends on how much we love man and how much interest we have in man. What I want to know is not whether we are interested in a few particularly intelligent men, a few who in one way or another are outstanding, but whether we are interested in man in general. This is a matter of great importance. The Son of Man's coming firstly implies that the Lord was intensely interested in man; He was so interested in man that He became a man. The Lord was very interested in man, but what is the extent of our interest? We may not think much of this or that individual. But how does our Lord look on those people? The Lord said that the Son of Man came. This means that He came into the midst of men as the Son of Man. It also means that He is interested in man, that He has a feeling for man, and that He has a high regard for man. He so values man that He took the place of a man in order to serve men. It is amazing that many of God's children have little concern for men. We cannot help but be somewhat indignant about this apathy. Brothers and sisters, do we know the meaning of the phrase the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve? We should ponder these words before the Lord. They tell us that Christ cared for man. Brothers and sisters, it is absolutely wrong for anyone to say, "I am among men, yet I have no interest in them whatsoever."
An interest in man is a basic requirement in the life of every worker. This does not mean that one picks out certain individuals and develops an interest only in them. It does not mean that one can be exclusively interested in and affectionate towards certain men. It means an interest in all men. We must pay attention to the Lord Jesus, whose outstanding characteristic is a feeling and a love for all men. He was so interested in man that He could say, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve." If we go to a certain place and insist on not being served by the men there but instead serve them, we are not far from the attitude we are talking about. This would put us on the right track with the right stand. Brothers and sisters, God's servants cannot reserve their love just for their brothers. A worker of the Lord is a total failure if he selfishly reserves his love for his brothers. Brotherly love is not the first thing on our list. It is something in addition to our love for all men. We have to have a love for all men. John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world." What does the world refer to? It refers to everyone in this world, including unsaved ones and those who have no knowledge of God. God loves the world; He loves everyone in this world. This is the meaning of God so loved the world. If God loves everyone yet you do not, or if you extend your love only after a person has become a brother, your heart is different than the Lord's, and you are not qualified to serve God. Your heart must be broadened to the extent that you love everyone and are interested in every man. As long as someone is a man, you should be interested in him. This is the only way to serve God.
TWO
The Lord Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:45). In other words, the Lord never asked for anything from men. We should be interested in men, and we should find men lovable. Moreover, we should not take advantage of men or be served by men. We should not embarrass them or hurt them. We should not even accept service from them. Brothers and sisters, years of instruction have accustomed us to address all men as our "fellow men"; however, this is not a matter of words but a matter of feeling. For example, we have a certain feeling for our brothers. We feel that certain ones are our brothers and that we are "fellow brothers" to them. But may I ask if we have the feeling with all men that we are their "fellow men"? Do we have a feeling that they are our fellows? If we do not have such a feeling, we cannot serve God. All servants of the Lord should have a broad heart. Their heart should be so broad that they can include and embrace all men. They should be able to embrace the whole human race into their bosom. The biggest problem among many workers is that they lack this love for men. Their love for the brothers is already short. Their love for all men is almost nonexistent. Perhaps they can pick out one from among a hundred or even from ten thousand that they can love! If this is our condition, we do not have a love for all men. We must remember that God is our Creator and we are all fellow creatures; we are fellow human beings. We must enlarge our heart's capacity to love every person created by God, every fellow human being. We should not allow them to suffer, we should not take advantage of them, and we should not seek for any service from them. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.
Brothers and sisters, we should not take advantage of others in any way. A Christian should realize that it is shameful for him to take advantage of his fellow men while on earth. It is wrong to take advantage of the brothers, but it is equally wrong to take advantage of anyone at all. As far as receiving from others is concerned, our Lord's basic attitude is that He would never allow Himself to be served by men. He did not have the slightest intention of receiving anything from anyone. We must remember that we should never selfishly receive the services and ministration of others at the expense of their sacrifice and loss.
God's children should not take advantage of others, not only because the Lord has forbidden it, but because we are fellow human beings. We should not seek for profit from our fellow men. We must realize that all men are lovable in the eyes of God. If we have no interest in man, our work will be of very limited value in the sight of God, no matter how great it may be outwardly. God wants to see His servants increased in their capacity and interested in all man. This is the only way to become a gracious person; this is the only way to serve the Lord.
THREE
Mark 10:45 says, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many." Luke 19:10 says, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost." John 10:10 says, "I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly." The Lord Jesus came to the earth for man. According to Mark 10, He came to serve men even to the point of giving His life as a ransom. The purpose for His coming was to serve men. In His service to men, there was the need for Him to give His life as a ransom, and that is what He did. His becoming a ransom was the highest and consummate act of His service to men. The Lord did not say that the Son of Man came only to be a ransom. He said that the Son of Man came "to serve." The goal was service. He was interested in man, and He considered man precious and worthy of love and service. He served men to such an extent that He met their need by becoming their Savior. This is why He gave His life as a ransom. If we preach the gospel of the Lord's sacrifice of His life as a ransom without having the Lord's heart of service, we are not qualified to be called His workers. Man is lovable. Because he is lovable, the Lord did not say that it was "the Son of God" who came to serve, but "the Son of Man" who came. The Lord Jesus first loved and served men, and then He gave His life for them. Love comes first; the sacrifice of life comes afterwards. When we work among men, we cannot preach the Lord's sacrifice without first having the proper love. We should not think that we can first preach His sacrifice and then love the listener after he has received the Lord. If we have no interest in man and do not find him precious, and if we have no awareness that we are all fellow creatures of God, we cannot preach about sacrifice. If we have never been touched by the expression God created man or have very little feeling for it, we are unfit to preach Christ's sacrifice. Brothers and sisters, we must first love all men before we can lead them to the Lord. We cannot hold back our love until they receive the Lord or until they become our brothers. Unfortunately, this is a problem with many people; they come short in this matter. Many people hold back their love for a person until he or she has become a brother or a sister. Brothers and sisters, this is not the way our Lord works. He first loved, and then He gave His life. We who preach His redemption also should love first and then preach redemption. Our Lord first served and showed mercy to others before giving His life as a ransom. In the same way, we should be interested in men, counting them worthy of our love and grace, before we present the Lord's redemption to them.
If God opens our heart to see that we are fellow men among all men, our attitude towards them will drastically change. We will find man lovable and precious. Brothers and sisters, it needs to dawn on us that man is precious in God's eyes because He created man in His likeness. Even today, man is still in the likeness of his Creator. Unless man becomes the object of our affection we cannot possibly become a servant of men. We must find man lovable and valuable in the sight of God. Many brothers and sisters have an altogether wrong attitude, temperament, and sentiment toward their fellow men. They consider them a burden, trouble, nuisance, or an annoyance. This is totally wrong. We must learn to see man as God's creation with God's image. Although man has become fallen, his future remains bright. If we regarded man as lovable, we would not feel that man is a burden, trouble, nuisance, or an annoyance to us. The Lord went to the cross for man. Can our love be anything less than this? If a man is touched by the Lord in a genuine way, and if he really sees the Lord's goal in coming to the earth, he will spontaneously conclude that man is lovable. It is impossible for anyone who has a genuine knowledge of the Lord to despise man.
Man is worthy of our love. All sins can be forgiven; we can sympathize with all weaknesses and activities of the flesh. We are sinners, and we know what sinners are like. Yet, at the same time, we know that man is precious. Brothers and sisters, the Lord did not die for men because there was a great number of them. He said that the Good Shepherd forsook all to seek one lost sheep. He did not come to seek to save the lost sheep because there were ninety-nine of them. The Good Shepherd came for one lost sheep. In other words, even if only one person in the whole world were lost, the Lord would still have come to the earth. Of course, historically, all men needed to be saved. But as far as the love in His heart is concerned, He was ready to come for one man, for one lost sheep. The Holy Spirit did not begin searching because ten coins were lost; He searched because one coin was lost. The Father did not wait for His prodigal because all of His sons had become prodigal; He opened His arms to one prodigal who returned. In the parables in Luke 15, we see that in His work of redemption, the Lord was willing to spend Himself freely to meet the need of even one soul. He did not wait for the needs of many to arise before He would work. This shows us the intense love that the Lord has for man.
Brothers and sisters, if we want to serve the Lord in a proper way, we have to cultivate an interest in man. If we cannot cultivate this interest, we will not be able to do much. Even if we do something, our work will be very limited. When we are limited as a person, we will not have the capacity to embrace many people. We will not fathom the full significance of redemption until we become interested in man and our hearts are enlarged to see his worth in God's eyes and in His plan. Without this, it is vain for puny creatures such as we to try to have a share in the great work of God. How can anyone be used to save souls if they do not love souls? How can anyone try to save man without loving man? If this fundamental lack of love for men is removed, many other difficulties in relation to men will vanish. We think that some people are too ignorant and others are too hard, but these problems should not stop us from loving them. If there is love, there will not be any disdain for man, and God will bring us to the point that we take our place as men among our fellow men.
When some Christian workers in urban areas go out into the country to work among farmers, they have an inordinate sense of superiority toward them. This is a despicable attitude. Our Lord did not say that the Son of God would not be served by men. He said that the Son of Man would not be served by men. If we go anywhere to preach the gospel, we have to go as a son of man. Many times, however, workers consider working among some people as a humbling experience! It is right to humble oneself, but it is wrong to consciously think that we are humbling ourselves by walking among certain kinds of people. If we feel that we are humbling ourselves when we walk among less educated ones, this is proof that we are not humble enough. Such humility is manmade; it is unnatural. When our Lord came to earth, men only recognized Him as the son of Mary or as the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon. They only knew Him as a son of man. Brothers and sisters, we have to be real men. When we are among our fellow men, we should not give them the flavor that we are above them in any way. This is not how a Christian should behave. When we are among men, we should be one of them. We should not give others the impression that we are condescending ourselves. If we do, we are not qualified to serve anyone, and our way is totally wrong. We can only serve men by being a man ourselves. We should never give others the impression that we are always humbling ourselves. We should not give others the impression that we are different. If others have that kind of impression about us, it proves that we are not God's servants. In order to serve the Lord, we must be genuinely emptied of self. When we talk with those who have less education than we have and we stand aloof from them, we are telling them that we are not one of them.
Unless we can humble ourselves to the lowest level, we cannot serve God. We must be brought to the lowest point; we must never feel that we are better than others. No brother or sister can despise a man of little knowledge. Such a person has a place in God's creation; he has a place in God's redemption and plan just as you and I have. The only difference between us and an unsaved man is that we know the Lord. Brothers and sisters, we are wrong in our attitude in many ways. We must turn away completely from such an attitude. We must see that all men are equal in the sight of God. Our Lord came to earth for all men. Therefore, we should humble ourselves for them as well. We should never categorize men based on the amount of education they possess.
You may say, "The ignorance of men presents no problem to me; my difficulty arises when I come in contact with men who are deceitful, sinful, and wild. What should be my attitude toward them?" You only need to take a retrospective look at your own life. Were you better than they are now before the grace of God reached out? How much better would you be today but for the grace of God? Who has made you holier than they? When you look at yourself outside the realm of grace, you cannot find any difference between you and them. Except for grace alone, what makes you any different than them? You can only bow before God and say, "I am the same as they are, nothing more than a poor sinner." Only grace can teach you to prostrate yourself in the dust and say, "Lord, You are the One who has saved me." Grace will never cause you to uplift yourself; it will always cause you to see that you are the same as the wicked and the sinners. It is God's grace that sets you apart from them, not you yourself. If what you have is yours through receiving, what is there for you to boast of? If grace is the only thing that makes you different, you have no ground to exalt yourself with such grace. You should give more thanks for grace; you should spend more time thanking the Lord for grace instead of giving glory to yourself. You should realize that you are the same as all other men in the eyes of God. You should love them. Their sins should cause you to recoil, but you should still go out in love for them. With such an enlarged heart, you will bring them to the Lord.
FOUR
In remembering that every servant of God has his own special characteristic and function to God, we should not forget that, no matter how different one's function may be, all true servants of God are alike in this respect: They are interested, intensely interested, in men. If a brother has an enlarged heart and is interested in men, his usefulness in the hand of God will be greatly enhanced. Brothers and sisters, we have to be interested in men. If we are indifferent to and disinterested in men, how can we preach the gospel to them? We are here to deal with men, to gain them, and to save them. If we have no interest in men, how can we accomplish our task? No doctor should shrink away from sick patients, and no teacher should shrink away from students. It is strange indeed for us to be preachers of the gospel and to be afraid of meeting people at the same time! In order to work for the Lord, we must be interested in men. This must not be something out of compulsion. We must have an interest in contacting people, in communicating with them. There should not be the need for anyone to tell us to contact or communicate with men. A worker should feel in his heart that man is lovable and precious. Brothers and sisters, we have to realize that all men were created by God and are loved by Him. God wants them, and He gave His only begotten Son for them with the expectation that they would receive His life through believing into Him. The only difference we have with unbelievers is that we have believed. This is why we have to help them to believe. We must cultivate a great interest in them. If we do this, we will find a boundless field of service opening up to us, and under the mercy of God we will become servants who are of some account to Him.
Brothers and sisters, in order to serve the Lord in a proper way, we have to take the straight pathway. Please remember that in the eyes of God, everyone has a spirit. In this respect everyone is equal. Everyone ranks the same because everyone has a soul and a spirit. As soon as we touch a person with a soul and a spirit, we should love him and strive to serve him. If we do this, our attitude will be different every time we meet a person on the street. When a man is enlightened by God to see that he is begotten by the same Father as his brothers, he develops a special taste for them. A worker similarly has to be enlightened to see that he is created by the same God as his fellow men. This light will cause him to have a different taste every time he meets someone. Among the saints, we do have the feeling that we are brothers and sisters. Now we need a further enlightening to see that among all men, we are fellow men. Everyone is precious and lovable, and everyone is worthy of our service. If we have this attitude, we will touch the things of God while living on earth today, because God's attention is always directed towards man. Men were created by God, and from such God-created men, we can rescue some into His church. God's goal is the church, but God's attention is still on man. He wants to gain man. No worker of the Lord can despise any person with a soul and a spirit. If we despise any man in attitude or in conduct, we are unworthy to be called servants of God. If we want to serve the Lord in a proper way, we must not despise any soul. In fact, we have to learn to be servants to all men. We have to learn to render others service in all things and to serve them with a willing heart.
Many people have the habit of despising those who seemingly are inferior to themselves while flattering those who seemingly are better than themselves. It is shameful for such things to be found among God's workers. We should not despise those who seemingly are under us in any way. We should consider a man's position according to God's worth. If we do not deal with this matter, we cannot serve God. It is a great and joyful thing for us to realize man's worth. If we see how the Lord has died for men, we will echo that very character that led Him to suffer such a death for men; we will feel what the Lord feels and conclude that man does deserve all of our love and interest. Unless we can do this, we will not be able to identify with the Lord's feeling, and we will not be able to work for the Lord.

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