Summary: Paul’s words to the Roman Christians in his introduction suggest ten marks of true spiritual service. Verse eight showed Paul’s thankful spirit. Verses 9-10a reveal a second mark of true spiritual service and that is a Concerned Spirit. Although he was gr
A Concerned Spirit
Self-righteous service comes through human effort. True service comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ deep inside.
Self-righteous service is impressed with the “big deal.” True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service.
Self-righteous service requires external rewards. True service rests contented in hiddenness.
Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results. True service is free of the need to calculate results.
Self-righteous service picks and chooses whom to serve. True service is indiscriminate in its ministry.
Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims. True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need.
Self-righteous service is temporary. True service is a lifestyle.
Self-righteous service is without sensitivity. It insists on meeting the need even when to do so would be destructive. True service can withhold the service as freely as perform it.
Self-righteous service fractures community. True service, on the other hand, builds community.
(SOURCE: Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, "The Discipline of Service.")
Paul’s words to the Roman Christians in his introduction suggest ten marks of true spiritual service. Verse eight showed Paul’s thankful spirit. Verses 9-10a reveal a second mark of true spiritual service and that is a Concerned Spirit. Although he was grateful for what had been and was being done in the Lord’s work, he was also deeply concerned about balancing those off with what yet needed to be done. True spiritual service requires us to be concerned about the spiritual condition of others.
I. True Spiritual Service Requires an Unreserved Commitment
A. Our service needs to be first and foremost committed to God.
i. Serve – latreuô – always used in NT of religious service, sometimes translated “worship”. Except for two references to pagan idols, the term is used in reference to the worship and service of the one true God.
ii. The greatest worship a believer can offer to God is devoted, pure, heart-felt ministry.
B. How? Surrender everything to Him (Rom. 12:1-2)
i. Such spiritual devotion is accomplished by refusing to “be conformed” to this world, and by being “transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
II. True Spiritual Service Requires us to Have No Confidence in the Flesh
A. Confidence in the flesh breeds pride and lack of concern for others. (Phil. 3:3)
i. “Of all the classical Spiritual Disciplines, service is the most conducive to the growth of humility. When we set out on a consciously chosen course of action that accents the good of other and is for the most part a hidden work, a deep change occurs in our spirit.
Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness. The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition. It will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered. If we stoutly refuse to give in to this lust of the flesh we crucify it. Every time we crucify the flesh we crucify our pride and arrogance” – (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline p.114)
III. True Spiritual Service Requires us to have a Sincere Heart
A. Because Paul served God from a sincere heart, he also could serve with a clear conscience. (2 Tim. 1:3)
i. Paul’s worship and service were inextricably related. His worship was an act of service, and his service was an act of worship.
B. Perhaps because he was a stranger to them, Paul calls upon the Lord as witness to his sincere love and concern for his spiritual brothers and sisters at Rome.
C. Paul considered intercessory prayer important: (2 Thess. 1:11-12; Eph. 6:18; Rom. 15:30)
Our true spiritual service is much more important than any flurry of outward activity. Unreserved, wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ is more pleasing to Him than feeding the world. True service out of a sincere heart is what will make a difference in eternity. Our sincere concern for others will work itself out in our praying for them.
The content of all Paul’s prayers was spiritual. He prayed for individual believers, but he also offered many prayers for groups of believers. He prayed that their hearts would be knit with the heart of God, that their knowledge of His Word would be made complete, and that their obedience to His will would be made perfect. The depth and intensity of prayer measures the depth and intensity of concern.