Updated: May 21
Col 3:23-24 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
I spoke with a man recently who years ago had been convicted of a crime that he said that he did not commit (unfortunately this actually happens more often than we might like to believe). He served a number of years in penitentiary and was released a few years ago. He had become involved in a church who helped him out. He became active in serving at that church. As far as I know his lifestyle and behavior are currently aligned with what most would consider to be consistent with Christian values and morality.
I will not pretend to know all of the details and the ins and outs of the story, and I will not be specific here as to respect the privacy of the individuals involved. My understanding in a nutshell, which is solely based on what this man has told me, is that based some anonymous information provided regarding this man and his criminal record, the concern of some potentially possible legal issues arose, which church leadership was adamant in avoiding. As a result, he was asked to leave the church. In essence what he shared with me about this incidence is that he felt betrayed and forsaken; he felt that he had poured his heart into serving at this church and then he was rejected. He said he was hurt that the church didn’t see him as worth taking a risk over. He said he felt abandoned.
The specifics of what I have shared regarding this situation are only important here in illustrating the principle of why we are to be ultimately focused on serving God, not people; which was the essence of my response and admonition to this gentlemen. Indeed, we can serve God through serving others; the Bible is full of examples, but it is GOD who we as believers of the Gospel, who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4); those who have put our trust in the finished of Christ ALONE for our salvation/eternal life (Hebrews 1:3), are to ultimately serve in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Only the believer can do this, because only the believer has the sinless second birth, which is necessary to truly serve God (Isiah 64:6, Matthew 7:21-23, John 3:3-6).
Man cannot provide eternal rewards; only temporal ones that will perish. God’s rewards are eternal and they will never perish (Matthew 6:19-21).
Man keeps records of wrongs; even of those which God has forgiven you of, as a believer. God is Love (1 John 4:16). Love keeps no record of wrongs (Psalm 103:12). The sins of the believer have been paid for and removed and God remembers them no more (Hebrews 10:17).
Man can never truly know the extent of what is in your heart and any given time. God knows your heart fully and accurately from the day of your birth to the day of your death or that you are raptured, all at the same “time” (1 John 3:20).
Man may forget what you may have done for him; he can also forget to repay you. God will be certain to reward you (1 Corinthians 3:14, Colossians 3:24, Revelation 22:12).
Man may very well abandon you and forsake you. God will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), no matter what you have done, or what you may do (Romans 11:29).
Man’s love, or lack thereof may be based on how he/she perceives your performance, whether that perception be right or wrong; man’s love can come and go; it is imperfect. God’s love for you is always based on who He is and what He has done for you; Both God and His gift of eternal life are perfect, therefore God’s love is perfect.
Man may turn on you or flea from you when there is a risk that associating with you may cost him something. God will not, and He has most certainly demonstrated it (Romans 5:8).
These principles unfortunately do not only apply to unsaved people, but they apply to saved people as well. When we as saved people are not walking in the Spirit, we are fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and are behaving no better than the unsaved person. This unfortunately sometimes happens even in the context of church [dis]functioning; the [dis]functioning of what even I would call good churches, probably more often than we would like to believe. The older I get, the more I see how perfect God is and how imperfect His people are. This is why [imperfect] Paul tells us that everything we do, say think, etc., should all be unto perfect and holy God; not unto imperfect and often very unholy people.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”