“But I just don’t feel like doing it.” How many times have you heard someone speak those words, or even more alarming … you have spoken them? I know I have. It is so patently human NOT to want to do what we should, or even what we know is the best thing to do. “Human”– in the fleshly sense of the word—is a result of our sin nature which must be progressively transformed by the Spirit of God as we surrender our thoughts, motives, attitudes, and actions to His control.
So from where does the motivation for service come? If you, like every other person on the planet, are burdened with self-centered desires yet seek an impetus to do what is right, read on. If you need unction to step up and serve as God has called, read on and let’s explore this further. When all is said and done, it is clear that there is not a lack of information as to what needs to be done. In fact there is always a lot more said than ever is done! God’s leading does not seem to be the problem either; it’s the motivation to act. We need a prod, a push, or a pull that absolutely makes us more uncomfortable to sit still than to serve! But what is our motivation for service?
The Indwelling Holy Spirit’s Promptings
The Word of God clearly states that, at the moment of salvation, the new believer becomes the dwelling place of God (Romans 9:8: “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ”; Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 3:17). As our new life begins, God the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives and controls and leads as we surrender control – not only daily, but moment by moment. The battle of the flesh and the Spirit is that which we experience as our old self (inherited from Adam and our parents by natural birth) wrestles for control with the indwelling Spirit of God. The Spirit within seeks to lead and bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”), giving real life and significance to our existence. The truly amazing part of this process is that the Holy Spirit never forces Himself upon us; rather He prompts and reminds of what is best, right, and pleasing to the Lord. As the believer grows in the Lord, he becomes increasingly sensitive to the voice of God and His promptings, as the indwelling Spirit reminds him of Scripture he has read or heard. The Spirit often prompts through the wise words of Godly friends, or even through circumstances or moments of silence in prayer before the Lord. God is a communicating God, Who is seeking relationship with each of His children. He also speaks daily and often—deepening that relationship through communication as we hear His voice and respond obediently, with full faith.
Have you heard the promptings and whispers of God during the daily execution of your responsibilities as a father, mother, student, or employee? I have found again and again when I’m faithfully in communication with God in the quiet of the early morning, that He continues to prompt clearly and repeatedly throughout the day as to the actions He desires. His Holy Spirit is the voice that is so soft, but yet powerfully impressed upon the heart and mind to say, “Help that person.” “Stop and listen, now.” “Do what’s right!” “Don’t look at this or go there!” “Ask for time to pray about this first.” “Step up.” “You do it!” Have you heard those words or something close to them lately in the midst of a situation? Yes, I imagine you have, but like me, you may not have heeded those words (the Holy Spirit) because other feelings also came at you. “What will others say?” Or, “That would be a lot of work, and no one else is doing it.” Let’s be brutally honest. What was the source of those latter words? The “old man” is never fully eradicated in this life, but the believer makes willful choices as to his master on a daily basis. Who will prevail in the daily fray? The one we listen to, and surrender our thoughts, hearts, and actions to follow (Galatians 5:16: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature”; Galatians 6:8: “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”). The Holy Spirit is the prompter—motivator—to serve. He daily leads us to do our every action for the glory of God – which is our reasonable service.
The Holy Spirit’s Enabling – Spiritual Gifts
The Holy Spirit — Who indwells the believer at the moment of salvation– not only prompts the believer to serve, but enables the believer to effectively serve. The Holy Spirit is the dispenser of Spiritual Gifts. Paul explains this to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 12:
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (12:7-11)
Paul goes on to say that all these parts of the body (members of the Church) have different gifts and are not all the same – as some would desire to practice today. It is absolutely vital to note that the gifts were given “for the common good,” and all given by the Spirit – “to each one, just as He determines.” We can therefore conclude that God desires each of us to have a gift. He gives a supernatural empowerment based on the indwelling Holy Spirit and our submission to His direction and enabling. This “spiritual gift” in Scripture is a grace (‘charis’) or a special enablement from God to minister for the good of others which we could never do in our own abilities. Rather, the gift comes when we deny ourselves and surrender to His control and willingly step out of our comfortable activities and move, with deaf ears to our selfish promptings of the flesh, by the Spirit’s strength into His power to act as he determines. The believer becomes the channel for the grace of God to flow through him to others when he practices his spiritual gift. (1 Peter 4:10). The Holy Spirit alone dictates who is gifted with what gift so that there is proportional gifting for the needed service to God. The whole purpose of Spiritual Gifts is to exercise them in the service of the Lord! To sit idly by without serving is to abuse or waste the gifts for their intended purpose, and to refuse to be Spirit led!
God has extremely important, eternal work to be done. To accomplish this vital work He has called His children, given them the equipment (the Spiritual Gifts), and told them (by prompting from His Word, others, and circumstances) what to do. So when the work of God – in churches, in the world, in the family, or in the marketplace or neighborhood—doesn’t get done…what’s the problem? It certainly does not have anything to do with the desire of God to see His work done. It is not the result of a lack of gifts to carry out God’s work. From my knowledge of Scripture, I refuse to believe God has ceased to communicate to His people what needs to be done (that would be inconsistent with His dealings with man throughout all recorded time). Therefore, we can only surmise that the power, the gifts, the calling, and the communication are falling on the deaf ears of uncommitted believers who willfully disregard the voice of God or the calling and promptings of God! It is in our desire to hoard God’s grace for ourselves that we actually prevent it from working through us towards others.
The Focus of Our Lives to Serve Others
God uses those who surrender to Him with their heart, soul, mind, and strength. In this surrender to the Lord, the Holy Spirit controls and show us a life of dedication to the Lord, is one of service to others. (2 Corinthians 4:5 “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”) God has ordered our lives so that our greatest fulfillment and significance comes from serving. The people of the world are divided into givers and takers. “Takers” go after every activity and skill to improve themselves, and they hope to attain happiness by their use of stuff and others. On the other hand, “givers” (servers) go after every activity and skill to help other people. Difficulties and problems frustrate “takers” and make them resentful because they feel as if they have missed out on something. But when those same difficulties and problems are experienced by “givers,” it gives them a greater resolve to serve and help those who are in greater need. Thus, the joy and fulfillment is intensified in the giver when the task is multiplied! God prompts each one to be a giver, to give himself to God as an instrument of His grace, divinely enabled for every good work. The focus of the believer is what makes the difference. Too many believers get saved, but still live life with the focus on self-fulfillment and satisfaction, not realizing both will elude them until they change their focus. As believers, our focus must be on God’s desire for the significant life – service of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – The Head of the Body.